Ultimate Guide to Gen Z in the Workplace

As the years pass, there are more and more members of Gen Z in the workplace. The oldest are in their mid to late 20s, have been out of school (secondary or postsecondary) for years, and are now finding and settling into their careers.

Like every generation before them, they bring new ideas and expectations to the workplace. While many claim that Gen Z are an employer’s nightmare, working with Gen Z is no more or less difficult than any other generation; it just requires a different approach.

As the number of Gen Z employees continues to grow, companies need to start catering to their expectations to stay competitive. So today, we’re going to take a closer look at Gen Z in the workplace.

Defining Gen Z Employees

There are a lot of misconceptions about Gen Z, and many still think of them as high school age. It’s important to understand who and what Gen Z employees actually are if you want to effectively cater to them.

The birth years for Gen Z are 1997 to 2012, though this can vary by a few years depending on the source. That means they are somewhere between the ages of 12 and 27. Though there are some overlaps with millenials in the workplace, Gen Z has their own unique key characteristics that set them apart from other generations.

Most of Gen Z are digital natives. They grew up using computers, smartphones, and social media. That comes with pros and cons, but it’s something that sets them apart from previous generations like Gen X. They have a strong desire for flexibility and want the ability to make decisions for themselves in the workplace, such as when and where to work. They don’t feel they need someone to manage their time and processes constantly.

There’s less of an emphasis on loyalty too. This is partially due to businesses today rewarding loyalty less, and it’s also tied to their stronger want for things flexibility and work-life balance. They are also more socially and environmentally conscious. Compared to other generations, they tend to place a higher value on these things and are more willing to make big decisions based on that.

Many members of Gen Z in the workforce are willing to change their shopping habits, switch jobs, etc, if a company isn’t being socially or environmentally responsible. While some might think that’s going too far, this is something they are passionate about and willing to prioritize.

Generation Z Values

Values are incredibly important to Gen Z, and companies not being aware of them can lead to problems with Gen Z in the workplace. Let’s go over some of their core values.

Work-Life Balance

More than any previous generation, Gen Z greatly values having a healthy work-life balance. They do not want to feel like they live to work, and they want to have fulfilling lives outside of work.

Having a good balance between work and personal life leads to happier, healthier, more satisfied, more engaged, and more productive employees. It may seem counterintuitive to some, but maintaining a good balance is key to a strong workforce.

Transparency

Members of Gen Z in the workplace also emphasize transparency. They don’t like secrecy, hidden agendas, and a lack of open and honest communication. They want to be treated like responsible adults who are kept in the loop.

Again, this is something that benefits everyone. A lack of transparency can create trust issues, lead to toxicity, increase turnover, and create conflicts in the workplace. That’s not to say every employee needs to know every single thing going on, but transparency is important.

Career Growth

Professional development is important to Gen Z as well, and this ties into their lesser emphasis on loyalty. Many companies have stopped providing avenues for growth, and members of Gen Z have responded by being willing to change jobs when they feel they are ready to move up the ladder.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are some of the more talked about values of Gen Z, and people heavily associate this with them. Gen Z values diversity and inclusion strongly, and they want to be in workplaces that prioritize those values.

They are much more aware of social issues than previous generations. On top of that, they are willing to walk the walk and change jobs if they feel a company is disregarding those values.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Like diversity and inclusion, Gen Z in the workplace also values corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. They are aware of the power businesses have when it comes to social and environmental issues, and they expect businesses to use that power for the greater good.

As with all of these values though, this also benefits companies. The bottom line of CSR is that it makes a difference in communities, brings teams together, makes work more meaningful, and can help businesses from a financial standpoint.

Gen Z Workplace Trends

You’ve likely realized by now that Gen Z is a unique generation, just like those before them. They are changing the traditional workplace culture, and there are many new trends emerging as a result. Let’s look at a few of those trends.

What is #WorkTok?

One current trend with Gen Z workers is worktok. TikTok is popular with Gen Z, and they are talking about their work lives—good, bad, and ugly—on the platform. People have always talked about their work lives, but social media allows for much greater reach.

@notkaityfuqua cc’d my boss? all good, i’ll cc the whole company #corporate #corporatelife #corporatehumor #corporatetiktok #millennial #9to5 #work #worktok #job ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

This has given Gen Z a sense of solidarity. They don’t feel alone with the struggles they face in the workplace, such as poor work-life balance, a lack of meaningful work, not being given autonomy, and not being invested in. Like many of the things talked about here, it’s easy to see this as Gen Z being entitled or spoiled. However, these concerns are typically genuine issues, and addressing them can help employees and businesses.

What Motivates Gen Z?

A common complaint about Gen Z is that they aren’t motivated. That’s not true though. The issue is employers and older management not understanding what motivates Gen Z in the workplace, as their motivations differ from previous generations. Gen Z employees are motivated by things like companies with values that align with theirs, doing meaningful work that’s appreciated, and working for companies that respect their mental health and identities.

They are also motivated by having flexibility and autonomy, as well as being mentored and invested in. Ultimately, they are motivated by companies that value them, their values, and are committed to creating a positive and welcoming workplace. And as usual, providing these factors can benefit the business as a whole. Providing meaningful work can help prevent boreout, and mentoring employees can help create a more talented workforce with lower turnover.

How to Communicate with Gen Z

If you want to provide a good environment for Gen Z, you need to know how to communicate with Gen Z in the workplace. While communicating with them isn’t that different in the grand scheme, you do need to be aware of the differences in preference.

Gen Z prefers things to be as brief and concise as possible, and they like written communication. It’s usually better to send them an email or text instead of scheduling a Zoom call or in-person meeting. Visual communication is important too. They want to avoid blocks of text if possible, and visual aids like images and videos can help break up text and communicate ideas more quickly.

That said, they also like in-person communication. Most of Gen Z prefers having an in-person meeting vs a Zoom call when there’s a topic that requires serious discussion. And in general, Gen Z has a preference for more informal communication. Be friendly, use emojis, and drop the overly formal work talk. You still need to be aware of boundaries, however.

Bridging the Intergenerational Gap

To wrap things up, let’s talk about ways to bridge the intergenerational gap with Gen Z in the workplace. This is key when it comes to integrating Gen Z with other generations at work.

Open communication is a great start. It helps break down barriers, fosters understanding of differences, and creates a more positive environment at work. Mentorship programs are another good option. Helping employees grow, learn new skills, and develop their abilities with programs like Leadership Stories shows you value them and their contributions.

Beat the Box

Shared learning experiences are also a great way to build bridges across generations. An event like Beat the Box helps bring teams together and increase understanding through shared experiences. Inclusive environments are important too. Putting an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) goes a long way when it comes to Gen Z in the workplace, and it helps other generations see their perspective as well.

Try to recognize their contribution as well. Rewards like team bonding events, such as The Mystery Bus, can help bring teams together while showing you value their efforts. Lastly, facilitating collaboration between generations is essential. Events and activities like Squad Games can be an incredibly effective way to encourage collaboration between older and younger team members.

Start Connecting with Your Gen Z Employees

Members of Gen Z are rapidly entering the workforce, and they are slowly becoming a majority. It will pay in the long run for employers to understand and support them. Unlike previous generations, Gen Z strongly values things like work-life balance, CSR, meaningful work, flexibility, transparency, diversity, and career growth. By meeting these expectations, employers can effectively accommodate Gen Z in the workplace.

Bridging the gap between generations can be more difficult than it seems, and that’s why TeamBonding is here to help. We have years of experience bridging generational gaps. We also have a strong knowledge of Gen Z specifically, allowing us to bridge those gaps successfully.

Start connecting with your Gen Z employees and prepare your company for the future with TeamBonding. We have a wide range of events that can bring employees together across generations, so get in touch with us today.

Camille VanBuskirk

Team Contributor

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