12 Ways to Support Gen Z Employees in the Workplace

12 Ways to Support Gen Z Employees in the Workplace

Who is Gen Z?

Generation Z, also known as Zoomers, centennials, iGen, or post-millennials, includes individuals born between 1997 and 2012. This generation is the biggest and most diverse generation in American history. These folks have very different qualities compared to previous generations so it is important to recognize their characteristics, understand how they affect the workplace, and learn how leaders can best support them.

Gen Z grew up with technology at their fingertips, meaning they are the first digital natives. They have experienced the 2007-2009 recession and COVID-19 which has shaped who they are and how they navigate the world. 

More Gen Zers are attending college than previous generations and are known to excel more than previous generations in higher education and their careers. They are more likely to graduate high school, more likely to go to college and they are more cautious about career choices. In terms of learning, Gen Z prefers short, digestible content as their attention span is shorter than other generations due to their access to (and substantial use of) the internet and technology.

Generation Z at Work

By 2025, Gen Z will make up 24% of all employees. Gen Z professionals not only make up a fourth of our teams, but the qualities they hold are incredibly valuable to our company culture and team success. 

Gen Z employees tend to be highly collaborative and have a deep sense of empathy for others. This care and collaboration make for great problem-solving, communication with customers, and conflict resolution. However, due to minimal experience, they often lack the confidence to add to discussions, particularly during meetings.

Gen Zers often approach issues and situations pragmatically, meaning they are realistic and sensible in their thought processes and solutions. They value relevance and truth and aim to work efficiently. Gen Z also has an entrepreneurial spirit, meaning they bring consistent innovation and creativity into the workplace.

This generation is self-driven, resourceful, and self-reliant, in part due to the technological tools they grew up utilizing. Similarly, because of their ability to gain more knowledge at an earlier age pertaining to diversity and various cultures, Gen Z has a larger appreciation for diversity, inclusion, equity, and uniqueness in identities. Organizations that showcase all types of diversity through marketing and through their team dynamics will attract Gen Z and continue to diversify talent.

Gen Zers prefer to work for organizations that are interesting and that strive to be positive global citizens and demonstrate their commitment through sustainable processes and other honorable actions.

Shockingly, according to Stanford-affiliated research, the majority of Gen Z prefers in-person communication to email, chat, video call, and other types of communication. Although they prefer face-to-face communication, many Gen Zers feel that they work better alone and would choose to do so when given the choice.

Mental health is a greater concern for Gen Zers, therefore, well-being and self-care are important to them. This plays a role in choosing where to to work or whether or not to stay at an organization depending on the business’s dedication to employee well-being.

Because of their upbringing in a culture saturated by the Internet and technology, Gen Z can be very skilled in tech at work, more so than older generations. This can be a huge plus as Gen Z employees enter the workforce with extensive knowledge of technology and software or they are able to very quickly learn and adapt to new digital tools because of pre-existing knowledge and practice.

Tied to these unique qualities are particular needs that Gen Z employees have in the workplace.

The Needs of Gen Z Employees

Gen Zers desire flexibility more than other generations. They also appreciate authenticity, which suggests honest relationships and communication at work are necessary for job satisfaction.

Questioning and avoiding authority can be an issue for Gen Zers as they are used to discovering answers on their own through the internet, close peers, or other readily available resources. Similarly, it can be difficult for them to know what they need and how to receive what they need.

Most Gen Zers learn best by doing and practicing, therefore hands-on learning opportunities are important to incorporate in training and learning at work. Gen Z is also motivated by healthy competition and enjoys brainstorming when collaborating.

85% of graduates believe social skills are essential to advancing at work, yet 40% of them say that they have not received training or support from management to develop the skills. 

How to Support Gen Z in the Workplace

As a manager or leader, there are steps you can take to support Gen Z employees and colleagues in the workplace so that they can thrive, and produce incredible value and supply unique insights for your organization. Consider the following:

1. Open clear lines of communication

75% of graduates feel their relationship with their manager creates stress at work, meaning uncertainty can create tension and anxiety when not addressed. Therefore, it is important to remind Gen Z employees that you are reachable (during work hours of course), how they can reach you, and that you are there to help or answer any questions. Checking in consistently through chat, email, one-on-one meetings, or in passing can help create a healthy and supportive bond between employee and manager.

2. Ask for feedback (and provide plenty in return)

Gen Z employees are appreciation-driven and like to receive credit for their work, yet they also want a chance for their ideas to be heard. Acknowledging successes and appreciating effort along the way is essential to a satisfied and confident young employee. On the other hand, asking for feedback from employees is just as important so that employees know that they are valued and that their input is taken seriously. Not sure how to properly give or receive feedback? Check out this article.

3. Reward behaviors that are connected to clear goals

Just as Gen Zers need their accomplishments to be acknowledged, they also need to know when they have completed a project or task properly. Because the generation struggles with making decisions without 100% of the information necessary, rewarding goal-oriented behavior helps Gen Z employees gain confidence in their decision-making skills while guiding them toward your organization’s objectives.

4. Remind employees that they can take personal or mental health days off work 

To help normalize some of those feelings of anxiety and overwhelm and to affirm that managers care about employee well-being, communicate to employees often that their well-being is important and that they should take time off if necessary. Depending on your organization’s policies, the specifics will differ, but be sure to clearly define how much time employees can take off and the (as simple as possible) process they must go through to be able to do so.

5. Prioritize team bonding for Gen Z

30% of those aged 18 to 24 report increased stress due to ambiguous relationships at work and 9 out of 10 avoid in-person events due to social anxiety. Because Gen Zers need well-defined and close relationships at work to thrive, team bonding should come before team-building activities. Plan activities and games that allow your team to get to know each other better in a casual manner. Once Gen Z employees feel well integrated into the team, you can work on team building.  According to research “people [who] embrace informal interactions are more creative, perform to a higher standard, and make for better leaders.”

Here’s more information about team building and bonding and how to achieve both.

6. Make meetings more fun

Reduce meeting anxiety and meeting recovery syndrome by putting less pressure on formal meetings and introducing engaging and interactive elements such as videos, ice breakers, polls, and breakout rooms.

GettaMeeting provides comprehensive meeting modules for managers who want fun, educational, and memorable meetings. Complete with a video, games, a playlist, suggested takeaway items, inspirational quotes, and much more, the comprehensive meeting modules take your meetings to the highest level.

7. Encourage communication between different generations

So that everyone can learn and build their skills while strengthening coworker relationships, urge employees to consult older or younger colleagues when they have specific questions, start a project, or collaborate during meetings. You can also have Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers mentor Gen Z to help them to grow their leadership skills and learn the ins and outs of the organization.

8. Be open and receptive 

Rather than being closed-minded, listen to and consider Gen Z perspectives and ideas. The generation tends to have different values and ideas - don’t disregard these but be open to them. It is inevitable that different generations growing up and living in a different society will mean differences in thought. Some Gen Z approaches may be newer, better, and worthy yet we won’t know for sure if we aren’t open to receiving them.

9. Continually update programs to match the evolution of the industry

Because Gen Z enters the workforce with newer tools, processes, and knowledge compared to older generations, they often must adapt to different and older processes in the workplace. To combat this divide while discovering better processes, incorporate programs that have been updated and that are current and relevant to your industry.

10. Define your mission well and ensure it carries through all aspects of work

Because Gen Z is so motivated by missions and considers it incredibly important when choosing careers and jobs, it is important to define your mission thoroughly. With a well-defined mission, you can incorporate it into objectives and help employees solve problems and find success through the guidance of the mission.

11. Create opportunities for healthy competition

We know that Gen Z appreciates and is motivated by competition. Find regular times to play games, participate in icebreakers, or create goals between teams, employees, or departments to keep a sense of friendly competition alive. Meetings are perfect for icebreakers or themed games.

GettaMeeting’s meeting modules come with three games related to the meeting content and icebreakers throughout the educational video. Check them out here.

12. Focus on social skills in training and onboarding

Gen Z values social skills yet they are rarely taught in training at job. Consider adding a curriculum that includes social skills to your training to help Gen Z develop their social skills and give them plenty of opportunities to practice, give feedback, and ultimately grow their talents.