Gen Z is Here: What You Need to Know to Bridge Generational Divides

managing Gen Z

No, Millennials likely aren’t the youngest demographic in your workplace anymore. As of 2021, Gen Z – the largest generation alive today – made up 40 percent of the workforce and the consumer population. Gen Z’ers, or Zoomers, have unique expectations and differing work preferences than their slightly-older colleagues.

If you’re managing a Gen Z employee, it’s a good idea to understand what they expect from work and what motivates them to be successful on your team. Here, we’ll provide an overview of Zoomers in the workplace so you can avoid intergenerational conflict, increase productivity, and build successful teams comprised of all the generations you manage.

Who Is Considered Part of Gen Z?

For years, “Millennial” has been synonymous with “young person,” but no Millennial is a traditionally-aged college student anymore. Millennials were born from 1981 to around 1994, so the oldest among them are turning 40 this year!

Gen Z, on the other hand, was born in around 1996 and into the early 2000s so they’ve been entering the workforce after college for several years now. More Gen Z’ers will continue moving in and up at companies in years to come.

What Does Gen Z Want at Work?

Social change.

Gen Z’ers are committed to social justice as part of their mindset and want to work at companies that care about changing the social fabric for the better. Deloitte says that Zoomers are driven by tackling “societal challenges such as sustainability, climate change, and hunger.”

If your team is already committed to this socially-oriented work, your Gen Z colleagues may be interested in contributing to this effort. If you’re planning on increasing your commitment to social causes, perhaps you can assign your Gen Z employee to helm or work closely with this type of project. This connects to another pillar that motivates Gen Z in the workplace: interesting work.

Interesting work.

Gen Z still cares about salary more than any other factor when taking a position. However, they value salary less than other generations do. If some Gen Z’ers had to choose between taking a higher-Gen Z at workpaying, dull job, they would choose a job that paid less but offered them compelling work.

This demonstrates that many Zoomers are motivated by work that drives their ambition and passion, and that more attention-grabbing work may motivate them more than a bonus or a pay increase. With this goal in mind, it’s a good idea to ask your Gen Z employee – and all employees for that matter – what interests them most. While it’s likely not possible to let every employee complete stimulating work all the time, it’s a good idea to give them a steady stream of appealing projects to keep them dedicated to their position.

Work-Life balance.

More than any other generation, Gen Z wants to develop a strong balance between their employment and their time outside of the office. In a study by Dynamic Signal, 39 percent of Gen Z’ers say they would prefer a company that let them create a healthy work-life balance and demonstrated its commitment to its employees’ health by offering paid time off and mental health days. What’s more, Gen Z values activities that develop a sense of community in the office.

With this goal in mind, Gen Z’ers are not only driven by interesting work but also by rewards that involve more flexibility and boost their mental health. You might consider offering your Gen Z opportunities to work from home or to decide when and how they want to do their work. Also, make sure to build in opportunities for team building and bonding; this isn’t just a “fluffy” activity but can improve communication and productivity within teams.

Clear guidelines and expectations.

Gen Z’ers expect to know exactly what their role in a team entails, and what senior leadership expects from them. They spot ambiguity and insincerity from a mile away, so don’t aim to implement guiding gen zinauthentic praise or vague guidelines in place of transparency.

To develop this sense of transparency that Gen Z thrives on, Connecteam advises “initiating practices that deliver the company’s mission, catering programs that help your team achieve their goals, and making it easy for your employees to share their options, ideas and feedback.”

Integrating a Zoomer Onto Your Team

Ultimately, Gen Z wants seeks healthy workplace practices that benefit all generations. Building community, promoting work/life balance, and articulating clear expectations can make all of your team members more satisfied. After all, Gallup’s recent study discovered that only six in 10 employees of any age fully understood the roles they played in their organizations.

So, instead of worrying about adding a Zoomer to your team, understanding their workplace expectations will make them more successful team members, as well as incentivizing you to adopt worthwhile habits and practices that advance your workplace culture.

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