Gen Z in the workplace: How you can welcome them and cater to their needs
It may feel like Gen Z just joined the workplace–the first batch of them graduated in 2019–but soon enough they’ll comprise a bigger part of the team than you may have expected.
In ten years, Gen Z will make up about a third of the workforce, so it’s important to recognise and hire them now while they’re still young enough to be trained. As the youngest members in the workforce, the major characteristics many employees in this generation currently possess include inexperience as well as a drive and eagerness to learn.
Hiring inexperienced and young staff members is beneficial for your company because you can mould their ways of working to suit your organisation’s processes, instead of struggling to overwrite the bad habits they would have picked up as they got more experience.
Especially for recent graduates and recruits new to your industry, young staff members are more receptive to being formed with your organisation’s best practices and are more likely to welcome opportunities for continued upskilling, mentorship and professional development.
What sets Gen Z apart from others in the workplace?
Gen Z prioritises stability and diversity in the workplace, so they’re less likely to be swayed by past engagement tactics of flashy recreational benefits if they’re unable to access fulfilling professional development opportunities and training.
Gen Z entered the workforce with a specific perspective shaped by different global events; recessions, a growing wealth gap and rising expenses in housing, healthcare and food.
The recession exposed Gen Z to precarious employment situations, where their parents lost the jobs they had worked for decades and older Millennial siblings had to move back home.
The gap between income groups only continued to grow while Gen Z became conscious of the world around them, as housing, healthcare and food became increasingly less accessible with rising prices. As a result, Gen Z has a few key attitudes towards work that affect their perspective:
- They prefer to work in industries they’re familiar with as consumers in their personal lives,
- They like to work independently, but value social connections with coworkers, and
- They prioritise and stay loyal to employment that gives them diverse opportunities to learn along with stable employment.
Gen Z has certain expectations of what their workplace should look like and do for them to remain affiliated with a particular organisation; digital integration, strong alignment with company and personal values, as well as clear pathways for promotions within the organisation.
Digital integration is a given for Gen Z, as they grew up around technology. Connectivity and the latest innovations in communication, management or industry-specific digital tools are key to their vision of a future office. This digital literacy is thanks to the more widespread use of technology in formal education, which this generation expects to extend to their workplace.
Strong alignment with company and personal values is crucial for a workplace that Gen Z will stay in. More than the financial compensation, Gen Z needs to feel that the organisational culture and core priorities are meaningful and going towards a similar purpose as their own.
Cutting-edge technology and a purposeful set of company core values matter to Gen Z as much as clear pathways for promotion within the organisation. Gen Z is likely to stay in one company longer depending on what journeys are available for their growth within the company.
How can you welcome Gen Z and cater to their needs in the workplace?
Gen Z is coming into the workplace and businesses have to adjust to their entrance; their unique perspective means they are motivated by different aspects than the generations ahead of them, and organisations need to understand that meeting their needs can make a crucial difference in recruiting, maintaining and retaining the youngest generation of staff.
Share information and mentor staff
Gen Z appreciates multiple opportunities to learn and pick up new skills from fellow team members in the pursuit of future development.
Gen Z may appear uninterested in learning something new because they can easily access and find information through digital means, but business leaders are in the best position to provide training and development opportunities that this generation will appreciate.
They need to know what they’re learning isn’t just going to benefit them while they’re in your organisation, but give them valuable information that they’re going to take with them well into the future on their journey of self-development.
Learning opportunities are increasingly a cultural expectation of Gen Z and other recruits joining the workforce. People need to know that their organisation is invested in their growth not only in their specific skill set but also in the areas in which they might not be as well-versed. Gen Z workers may already know their way around the latest digital collaborative tools, but could benefit from additional soft skills training, like self-awareness and coping with stress, effective communication and conflict resolution or critical and creative thinking.
Aside from creating programmes tailored to their needs, assigning a mentor to Gen Z who can provide them with regular feedback and guide them with the perspective of having been in their shoes can help Gen Z stay committed to their professional development. This is a way to address Gen Z’s need for ‘connectedness,’ which is what they seek in the workplace.
Despite all the tools at their disposal to remain in touch with their tasks, connectedness translates to genuine effort on the organisation’s part to link them to members of the team with prior experience or time with the company. They can better communicate concerns about doing specific tasks at the same level, and follow the problem-solving example of their mentor.
Listen to their needs
Gen Z will invest their time, effort and energy in an organisation that invests in them and their welfare, so that’s why leaders have to pay attention to their needs.
Keeping employee welfare in mind often begins with a simple conversation around asking teams what helps them stay productive and what hinders their workflow. When it comes to Gen Z, they may need varied work schedules or training topics that serve their creativity and boost their management or leadership skills.
Personalised employee experiences created to meet Gen Z team members where they are can even include policies like work-from-anywhere or adjusted working hours along with a standardised set of healthcare benefits, like vision, medical and dental options. Depending on the conversation, this can mean personalised training resources or more leadership coaching.
Offer purposeful benefits
Gen Z prioritises stability and flexibility in their lives and workplaces, so benefits need to be responsive to these values and the nature of the work the organisation does.
Working remotely is only one option to offer Gen Z team members in the workplace, as some may require more opportunities for individual training or chances to collaborate with fellow staff. In many cases, catering to Gen Z’s needs coincides with paying attention to the needs of new hires and keeping them engaged.
These will benefit all members of the team, as engagement can be maintained through:
- Scheduling and holding regular check-ins,
- Prioritising health and wellness by providing incentives and other health-focused benefits at the office, and
- Providing staff members flexibility over their work schedules.
Gen Z may have different motivations and a new perspective on work, but they ultimately are willing to learn and want to be part of an organisation that pays attention to their needs. The challenge for business leaders is to nurture their skills and manage them to succeed.
Supporting the youngest members of your team with a positive environment boosts productivity and creates happy, healthy organisations for years to come. Book a tour with us and we’ll find the right space for your company to grow.