You might not need to read this article about Gen Z. Also referred to as Zoomers, this is the generation currently entering the workforce, born between the mid 1990’s - mid 2000’s. If you are already doing the following with all of your employees, regardless of generation, you might luck out with recruiting and retaining them:
- Building an authentic, trusting relationship with them by caring about them and showing it
- Being real and vulnerable about who you are (think “share, don’t scare”)
- Making sure they have opportunities to use their strengths and to shine
- Appreciating them genuinely, in the way they want to be appreciated (not how YOU want to be recognized, or how you are told you are supposed to acknowledge people)
- Treating people as individuals and staying curious about them, not seeing any one person as a spokesperson for their generation
- Recognizing and actively working on removing your bias that your generation is best, or that you know best (it isn’t, and you don’t)
- Coaching effectively for high performance and growth by letting people know when they hit the mark, and helping them to understand when they miss it and how to fix it
- Always being open to learning
- Walking your talk with behaviors that demonstrate your values
- Paying people fairly
I’ve heard it said that people “resemble their generation more than their parents.” The cultural, technological and significant events that one grows up with definitely make an impact on world view and the view of work. No one wants to be lumped into a box though, so work at seeking to understand each generation’s world view broadly for context, but interact and relate with people individually.
Consider just a few things Gen Z has experienced in their formative years that likely impact how they show up at work:
Recession. Z grew up with their parents dealing with the 2008 recession with job, home and financial losses. Why wouldn’t they be concerned about financial security? It’s understandable that they have high salary expectations right out of the gate. Excessive student loans, not enough affordable housing, inflation, high interest rates, and tight labor market all contribute to, and underscore the rationale for their salary expectations. Gen Z can expect to pay double what it cost in the early 90’s for a four-year education, but salaries have not doubled. Older workers might not know how to find more money to pay people, but we must understand that the people asking for more have legitimate reasons for doing so.
Blending of work and home. The construct of the “workday” across the world has changed and as a result, Gen Z is not automatically buying in to the artificially created set of rules about what a work day must look like. The pandemic has contributed to this blurring of work and free time boundaries even more, opening up a new way of looking at what constitutes a day’s pay. Where can you find ways to adapt and be flexible?
Evolution of a gig economy (think Uber). New ways of approaching careers set Zoomers up to have much more of an entrepreneurial mindset as they think about what a career means. Like millennials and Gen X, Zoomers want to work where and when it suits them, whereas Boomers were big on face time. Their work agreement is more likely to be about their merit, not the number of hours put in or just one “gig.” How might you let them help you create variations on the way work gets done?
All that said, how do you lead this generation? One person, one relationship, at a time, engaging them to participate in creating the vision of the future they will be leading. And why does it matter that you commit to their success? Time will tell the impact of the ubiquitous technology and social media influence, but there are signs of higher rates of mental health concerns among this generation, and it makes sense. We need young people to do great things to combat the myriad of crises: workforce, climate, political, etc. Let’s support and care about them every way we can.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
||In Jo Anne's current role as Organizational and Workforce Development Senior Manager at the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC) her aim is to offer to leaders straightforward tools and inspire the courage to use them.
Lead the Way in Five Minutes A Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team, by Jo Anne Preston is currently available for purchase.