In the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of work, understanding the expectations and aspirations of your employees is a powerful way to increase engagement and retain top talent. However, for many leaders, appreciating generational differences can be challenging. To successfully lead the Gen Z workforce and create a harmonious and productive workplace, it is crucial for leaders to fully understand the Gen Z perspective on careers.
The Gen Z workforce, the generation born between 1997 and 2012, has a deep desire for career success, and wishes their bosses knew the following four things:
1. Authenticity and Empathy Matter
Gen Z employees want more than just a paycheck and a job title. Growing up with a barrage of social media and a lack of face-to-face interactions means this generation craves more authentic connection and empathy from their employers than generations of the past. Traditional hierarchical structures leave them feeling disconnected and uninspired. A collaborative and inclusive environment where Gen Z workers feel seen, heard, and valued as individuals is where levels of engagement soar.
Asking and then taking the time to understand the personal and career expectations of your Gen Z employees goes a long way to creating a positive and engaging work environment.
2. They Are More Than Just Employees
This is the generation of participation ribbons and mental health integrity. They believe in their intrinsic value as individuals, just as much as they believe in working hard in order to achieve success. It’s just that they won’t sacrifice themselves in the name of success the way past generations have. Gen Z employees wish their employers recognized them for who they are, rather than just what they do. Feeling like a mere cog in the corporate machine can lead to disengagement and, ultimately, turnover.
Remember Gen Z employees, and any employee for that matter, who feels valued and understood as an individual is more likely to stay with their company for the long term.
3. Cultivating a Sense of Purpose Makes Work Worthwhile
Gen Z employees are motivated by ideals. In a world they see as being broken, greedy, and divided, finding meaningful work and an employer who aligns with their personal values is paramount. Companies that integrate purpose-driven initiatives into their culture will not only attract top Gen Z talent but will also foster a sense of loyalty and dedication from this cohort.
What can you do to better define and articulate the mission and purpose of your organization?
4. Open and Ongoing Communication is Necessary
In school and in life Gen Z was taught to speak up and was spoken to with candor. It stands to reason that in the workplace they appreciate a higher level of open and ongoing communication than previous generations. Formal channels of communication make no sense to them, when in-the-moment dialogue (text or email please, in person can be awkward and don’t ever leave a voice message) is readily available. Regular feedback, coaching, and mentoring are instrumental in helping Gen Z employees grow both personally and professionally.
Creating an environment that fosters transparent and supportive dialogue will lead to stronger relationships and higher job satisfaction.
Understanding and meeting the expectations of Gen Z employees is essential for businesses and leaders who want to thrive in today’s competitive landscape. Avoiding burnout and retaining valuable talent requires employers to go beyond the standard job description and formalized structures of the past and embrace authenticity, empathy, and purpose. Taking steps to foster open communication and recognize employees as the unique individuals they are, helps leaders and organizations create a work environment that not only attracts and retains Gen Z employees, but brings out the best in this driven and talented generation, unlocking the full potential for all.