With 2 billion worldwide, Gen Z is set to become the world's largest citizen group
and has the power to influence Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
issues at a global level. This cohort of digital natives has particularly high
expectations of businesses, and they're seeking accountability.
For todays leaders, this passion and influence can present a challenge
but, more importantly, an opportunity to work collaboratively with Gen Z.
Lead with Empathy
Because mental health is so close to Gen Z, to resonate with them, managers will need to lead with empathy, understanding, and transparency.
Because so many Gen Zers are experiencing anxiety, managing in a way that won't add to that will be important for building trust and engagement. For example, it may seem counter intuitive, but talking about any hardships that may come up within the company will actually calm anxieties and build trust. Your employees will grow to learn that they won't be blindsided with bad news, and they're seen as more than just another worker.
Additionally, pay attention to signs of impending burnout. See if you notice employees regularly working through lunch or sending emails in the evening. And although some leaders still believe remote employees don't work as hard, the data shows otherwise.
So, set an example. Company culture is determined from the top down. Be sure you have a healthy work/life balance and encourage others to do the same. Remind your employees to unplug at the end of the day and don't send emails after hours. Be careful about who you promote as well. If chronic over-workers are the ones who are "getting ahead," think about the message that sends to other employees.
Furthermore, consider allowing mental health days, starting a wellness program, and offering free counseling through an Employee Assistance Program. Talking about how you care about mental wellness won't mean much to Gen Z if you don't implement processes to help support mental wellness.
Corporate Social Responsibility
As we've mentioned, Gen Z has faced a range of social, political, and environmental hardships. And many have a sense of responsibility to enact positive change. As teens, this meant spending their money at businesses that align with their values. Now that Gen Z is beginning to enter the workforce, this means working for companies that align with their values.
In a study by Deloitte, nearly half (49%) of Gen Zers said they have made choices over the type of work they are prepared to do and the organizations for which they are willing to work based on their personal ethics.
This means companies who are doing the bare minimum won't cut it for Gen Z.
Furthermore, this generation is also paying attention to who is in leadership positions at your company. And if there's a lack of diversity, they're taking note. As the most diverse generation, at least one in five Gen Zers polled said they feel personally discriminated against "all of the time" or frequently because of an aspect of their backgrounds. And more than half see older generations as standing in the way of progress.
As mentioned, many Gen Zers entered the workforce remotely-and they want to keep it that way.
Remember, this generation is the most tech savvy generation yet. So, where older generations may get frustrated when it comes to dealing with Zoom calls, internet issues, and virtual collaboration, Gen Zers tend to have no qualms. In fact, many simply don't see the value of requiring work to be done in-office all the time.
One of the main reasons Gen Zers prefer remote work is the ability to work the hours they choose. 9 to 5 may be the standard, but this generation is asking why? They want to work when they feel most productive - not to mention save time, money, and the environment by not having to commute.
Remote work does have some downsides, however. Pew research found that while people may want to continue remote work, 60% of employees feel less connected to their coworkers. And while some people may scoff at the importance put on coworker connection, what may be superfluous to the older generations, could be critical for younger workers.
This is why many companies have found a sweet spot in hybrid work. Hybrid models do a great job of bringing the best of both worlds together, while minimizing downsides. A report from Gallup recommends being home three to four days a week and in the office one to two days. However, it will be up to companies to consider all the factors affecting their business and decide which model is best for them.
Give Them A Voice
As the instant gratification generation, it should come as no surprise that Gen Z prefers to share their ideas frequently, immediately, and directly - both positive and negative.
While this may intimidate managers, this "neediness" from Gen Z makes sense.
Research shows this generation is hungry for career growth and development. According to a LinkedIn study, 76% of Gen Zers want more opportunities to move up or increase responsibilities at work. And in order to do so, they need to be able to share information about the organisation to the leaders who must also recognise them.
An online platform helps reach Gen Z where they are already - their phones. A recognition platform with a phone app keeps Gen Z accessible and engaged. Not to mention, it also helps reach deskless employees who aern't always in an office.