10 Tips on How to Manage Gen Z in the Workplace

The future is now old man

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Millennials, you’re time is up. You’re old now, you’ve been in the workforce for at least 5 years at this point. Old news. Your managers know how to work with your desire to work remotely, your job-hopping, your constant need for validation from supervisors.

But what about Gen Z? Millennials may be killing Applebee’s and Chili’s, but Gen Z is going straight for the jugular and killing malls, football, and cold hard cash. Sksksksk-ing over their charred remains. Marketers don’t know how to attract Gen Z clients. Businesses can’t adapt to align with Gen Z’s beliefs and desires.

How do you manage a generation that is difficult to understand what exactly makes them tick?

1. Understand that Gen Z Doesn’t Understand You

As a manager, you first need to understand that Gen Z doesn’t understand you. If you are a Gen Xer or a Baby Boomer, you may as well be from the dark ages in Gen Z’s eyes. Their beliefs have been built from their birth in a hyper-connected global world. Their beliefs are different to every one of them with only a few shared characteristics resulting from that interconnectedness, not due to it. Whereas Gen X and Boomer’s beliefs are framed from specific local influences and familial influence.

2. Prepare to be Uncomfortably Open and Honest

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Gen Z is colloquially known as the True Gen. They adamantly search for the truth and openness. They’re not afraid to start a dialogue on topics that can be difficult to tackle. They value honesty and integrity to a higher regard than other generations. Their decisions are based on their effect to better the world around them (not just for their own good), and take pragmatic approaches to do so.

If you want Gen Z to understand your goals and to fight the good fight for what you as a manager are looking to accomplish, be open with them about your goals. And be honest with them about issues that arise.

Gen Z wants to be a part of that conversation.

3. Ensure your Goals are Ethical on a Global Scale

Alongside that global connectedness that Gen Z was raised on, they see the scale of global issues and are beginning to understand the ethical ramifications of companies on a local and global scale.

If your goals do not line up with their ethical viewpoints, they will not want to work with you, and will not be longterm employees. If that happens, prepare for your companies ethical shortcomings (and probably yours personally as well) to be shared across social media.

4. Embrace Diversity in All Ways

While strides are being made to increase diversity in the workforce, Gen Z embraces and desires diversity beyond gender and race (which seem to be the two top diversity drivers at this time). Gen Z desires diversity in viewpoints, in social standing, in income levels, in all ways imaginable. This is again tied in with their global consciousness.

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

What better way to ensure an ethical understanding of the world than to ensure viewpoints from all walks of life are heard and involved within those choices?

5. Don’t be Afraid of Technology

It should come without saying that Gen Z is incredibly comfortable with technology and adaptable to new technologies with little to no oversight. Don’t expect a Gen Zer to be ready to start all communication over the phone or via email, both are considered antiquated and out-of-date forms of communication. Email takes too long and has this stuffy formality attached to it. Phone calls are disruptive time-wasters.

Embrace chatbots for customer-facing communication on your website, rather than email or phone calls for information. Within your office, embrace chat programs like Slack. For project tracking, incorporate Trello, Asana, or Monday.

Give Gen Z the tools they are comfortable with and they’ll succeed beyond your expectations. Allow them constant and updated access to project status with those tracking apps. Rather than sending an overly formal email and waiting hours for a response.

6. Foster Upward and Outward Growth

Gen Z as a generation is one of the most entrepreneurial generations with 72% of them wanting to start their own company. Their access to technology has exposed them to websites dedicated to learning and skills, like Codecademy and Udemy. They are always looking to build their toolkit with skills that they believe can help them achieve this entrepreneurial dream.

Foster this desire with mentorship programs within your company, pairing a new employee with a more seasoned long-running employee. Allow for a few days out of the year dedicated to your employees for them to do something they want to do, whether or not it has any direct relation to your company’s mission. That’s how Apple TV came to be.

What your employees do with this time will surprise you, and your employees are thankful to be given time to better themselves for their future.

8. Kill the 9 to 5

The 9 to 5 workplace is slowly dying. You know it, I know it, consumers know it. Gen Z is the always-on generation, they’re used to doing what they need to do on their own time. They have an acutely tuned filter for unnecessary information, but their attention span sits around 8 seconds. They are go, go, go and are ready to move onto something new.

Rather than basing performance on how often your employees stick with the 9–5 schedule, allow flexibility and move to a results-based performance metric.

Don’t force an employee to sit at their desk for 3 hours because they’ll be fired if they leave early even though they completed their work. Set the expectations, then send them off. As long as those expectations are met then you’re golden! Don’t hover over them, but do ensure you are congratulating them and recognizing them often.

9. Fight the Stress

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Stress is, unfortunately, part of life. You cannot entirely get rid of stress in the workplace. But stress causes billions of dollars of lost money to American businesses, and 52% of workers have called in sick due to stress, and 80% of job accidents are due to stress.

Introduce a flexible workplace to help alleviate and allow employees the ability to control their stress on their own time and terms. More vacation days, flex time and longer breaks are inexpensive and indispensable tools to alleviate stress.

75% of employees call a flexible workplace their top priority when looking for a new job.

10. Embrace Competition

While Millennials prefer collaboration among coworkers, Gen Z is cutthroat competitive. Growing up in the recession they have been raised to understand that they must have diverse skill sets and be incredibly hard-working to make it in the workforce.

They make sure their skills are refined, their work is perfect, and they are exceeding expectations. They do expect to be recognized for these achievements.

If your organization is heavy in the team environment, ensure that you praise the team for their collective goal, but do not forget to praise the individual for their accomplishments. Failure to recognize the competitive nature of a Gen Z’er can result in them feeling unappreciated and unwanted within the company and your turnover rate will show that.

Gen Z is highly competitive, highly connected, and desire purpose and ethicality among all else in what they do. Ensure your company and you can cater to these needs to attract highly-skilled Gen Z’ers who can make invaluable additions to any team.

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