Gen Z and the Workplace: Creating a Collaborative Culture

Generations have aired their grievances about one another for centuries. Even Socrates (469-399 B.C.) once lamented, “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” 

These days, Generation (Gen) Z, which consists of those born between 1997 and 2012, has become the target of many of those generation-related complaints. The Wall Street Journal recently noted that a survey of about 1,300 managers found that 74% thought Gen Z coworkers were harder to work with than those of previous generations.

Of course, as time marches on, it’s natural that more Gen Z workers are entering the workforce. And even though some members of older generations will always grumble, their new Gen Z coworkers have more to add to the workforce than they’re given credit for. 

As such, when it comes to hiring, understanding the new generation’s values, priorities, and expectations can help you engage and retain its top talent.

Understanding Gen Z’s Priorities

Broadly speaking, Gen Z has a focus on restoring balance to the workplace and rejecting “hustle culture.” Their priorities boil down to these four values:

  • Mental health
  • Work-life balance
  • Work that is driven by purpose
  • Transparency

Below is a look at how you can embody some or all of these matters to win over Gen Z employees.

Fostering an Inclusive and Flexible Culture

Many Gen Z workers support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. They also value flexibility, most likely because many of them entered the workforce during the past few years, a time in which remote work has become commonplace. As such, they generally appreciate hybrid/remote positions or flexible hours. Offering these can, in turn, make your workplace more appealing and also accessible for those with disabilities.

Providing Meaningful Growth Opportunities

No one wants to feel as though they’re stuck working in a dead-end job, so it makes sense that Gen Z values workplaces that invest in their employees. Whether it’s through continuous learning programs, skill development initiatives, or even illustrating clear paths for career growth, you can support your employees (and your business as a whole) by facilitating professional development. This doesn’t require a large investment in money or time, but the dividends can pay off well, in terms of greater loyalty and increased competency and effectiveness.

Aligning With Gen Z’s Values

Most Gen Z consumers are willing to pay more for products made by companies committed to social and environmental responsibility. It’s fitting, then, that Gen Z members who are entering the workforce tend to be drawn toward businesses that demonstrate their commitment to the environment, social welfare, or both. 

Rethinking Compensation and Benefits

Though you may have seen the sentiment shine through via memes and the like, you’re likely well aware of just how much Gen Z emphasizes the importance of competitive pay. Rising costs of living and student loan debt have left many Gen Z workers strapped for cash, so if they don’t think your workplace will offer fair compensation, they will not be afraid to look elsewhere. Additionally, intangible elements such as unexpected praise, paid time off, recognition, impromptu experiences, etc. can help close the pay gap without having to simply just increase wages in order to compete. 

Leveraging Technology and Innovation

Gen Z practically grew up right alongside modern technology, so they tend to be more comfortable adapting to new innovations. Gen Z employees, therefore, may feel more at home in a workplace that makes use of automation and digital collaboration tools. As a bonus, successfully implementing these features means improving your company’s overall efficiency.

Cultivating a Feedback-Rich Environment

Many Gen Z employees tend to value feedback in the workplace, but you must remember that feedback goes both ways. Many expect frequent feedback from their employers, but they also expect them to actively seek input. Ultimately, Gen Z places more of a premium on open communication than past generations, and that’s often a good thing.

Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing

Some workers habitually work long hours. Others are more focused on their work-life balance. Gen Z workers overwhelmingly fall into the latter category, and they tend to flock to employers that both offer mental health resources and encourage employees to strike a balance between their work lives and personal lives.

There’s a good reason behind that focus. Multiple metrics, from increased suicide rates to greater reports of anxiety and depression to a growing amount of diagnoses of serious mental illnesses, indicate that America’s mental health is worsening. It’s a crisis that can’t be solved by workplaces alone, but cultivating supportive environments can certainly help get the ball rolling.

Need to Rethink Your Hiring Strategies?

The generational shift in the workforce poses a challenge for even the most experienced HR professionals. Avoid getting pulled into the mainstream current of dismissing Gen Z employees as worthless, entitled, and apathetic. If you’re a small business owner looking to adapt your hiring practices or make sure you’re creating a positive company culture, Focus HR can help. Get in touch with us to set up a consultation today.

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