The newest generational wave, Generation Z or “Gen Z,” has now entered the workplace, and according to NPR, they are on track to be one of the most diverse generations in U.S. history. While Gen Zs share many traits with Millennials, they also bring with them unique characteristics, needs, attributes, and work style. For example, many Gen Zs entered into the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic and experienced their formative years in the workplace via remote work, unlike previous generations that thrived in vastly different work environments than what we have today. These differences may create some new challenges, and employers can anticipate a shift in workplace culture and needs as more Gen Zs enter the workforce. The following tips can help employers understand this new generation, and how to effectively integrate and retain Gen Zs in their workplace.
Who is Gen Z?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Gen Z as “the generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.” According to U.S. Census estimates for 2022, Gen Z currently makes up 20.2% of the U.S. population, and is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in history. Gen Zs were also born and raised in a time where technology and social media have become an integral part of day-to-day life. This is part of what distinguishes Gen Zs from their previous generations.
Additionally, according to a study conducted by Deloitte, Gen Zs prefer to work in environments that cultivate career development, provide learning and development opportunities, and value diversity and inclusion. For example, in a study conducted by LinkedIn, 80% of Gen Z workers reported they are looking to work for employers who are better aligned with their personal interests or values, 76% reported they are looking for more opportunities to learn or practice new skills, and 61% seek more opportunities to move up or increase their responsibilities.
Tips for Integrating Gen Z into the Workplace
Among the top concerns for why Gen Zs left their workplaces over the last two years included pay, feeling the workplace was detrimental to their mental health, and burnout. Beyond better compensation, good work/life balance, flexibility, and learning and development opportunities, Gen Zs also want to derive a sense of meaning from their work, and to work for organizations that have a positive societal impact. To attract and retain talent, employers should emphasize the significance of the individual’s role in the organization, and how their contributions make an impact or serve the organization’s mission.
Employers should also listen to their employees and empower them to drive change. They can do so through initiatives like reverse mentoring, where newer employees are paired to mentor established leaders, and through this relationship, new employees can share a fresh perspective on the way things are run. Rather than the traditional model of mentoring, where a senior employee takes a newer employee under their wing and teaches them how the organization is run, this allows for frank discussions regarding issues that affect the organization and provides opportunities to solicit feedback on what newer employees truly want and need from management. Employers should be also be transparent about what opportunities for leadership and development are available within the organization, so as to encourage employees to grow and explore their potential. It is also important to set aside time to answer questions, accept feedback, and address any concerns that may arise. Where possible, employers should also consider more personalization and flexibility when it comes to certain roles, rather than trying to fill cookie-cutter positions.
By keeping some of these tips in mind, employers will hopefully “pass the vibe check” for Gen Z employees, and be better suited in recruiting and retaining members of the newest generation.