How to Manage Gen Z Employees – Reach Your Workforce

To once again find yourself shaking a weather-beaten fist, leathery and brazen, at the thought of those pesky rapscallions working around you. To question how to get through to those that fawn over technology trends you can’t quite grasp. To find yourself attempting a new TikTok dance under the humility-hiding lights of your workplace bathroom, florescent and judgmental. To try and manage your Gen Z employees with tactile and ‘cool’ resonance.

To put it colloquially: we are getting old. Just the other day, I found myself complaining about a bad back and rickety knees. But as both employers and staffing agencies, we have to keep up with the influx of new and young professionals. Therefore, you have to learn how to manage your Gen Z employees in a way that is respectful to them as employees and forward-thinkers of the next generation.

Overall, this may be the ‘oldest’ article we ever submit. How do you go about managing your Gen Z Employees? How do you speak to the ideals and cultural aura of your younger professionals?

Ancient age aside, we must delve into it, giving readers a glimpse at how to both expand their communication skills and create a culture that is accommodating to the progressive movements mastheaded by the current generation.

What Is Generation Z? Who Are They?

Don’t find yourself staring at a group of ‘youngsters’ with confusion. They are not aliens, after all. They are the professionals moving into administration.

Generations can become a bit boggy over time. Many crotchety older souls tend to drawl on about Millenials, but by standard definition, the Millenial Generation isn’t the age range most think of it as. The same goes for Generation Z.

Technically, Gen Z is anyone born from 1997 to 2012. At the moment, that means they are between the ages of 10 and 25 (26-ish). According to the World Economic Forum, the generation makes up 30% of the world’s population. Therefore, they are expected to make up 27 percent of the world workforce by 2025.

So, managing and reaching your Gen Z employees will become more than just an extra activity. Within a few years, you are likely to have at least a few on your team.

Difference Between Millenials and Gen Z

Millennial is a term for Generation Y, which falls roughly between 1981 and 1996. Therefore, even the youngest of the Millennials is turning 27 this year. They aren’t the young whippersnappers anymore.

With the exponential growth in both overarching technology and the internet’s usage, Millenials and Gen Z have a drastic difference in values and working habits. While not psychiatrists, it’s easy to note the catalyst for the differences. Millennials grew up with Boomer parents, optimistic about the future of the world and the economic stabilization of the past. Gen Z grew up during a significant economic recession and has seen inflation crush the housing market, college degrees become nothing more than paper, and the need for environmental mindfulness become a necessity.

Gen Zers find themselves in a strange gray area. They are pessimistic due to the world we created for them, but they are optimistic that social change is going to continue, creating an inclusive and congealed world. They are hesitant about sharing information online but prefer to work with technology and avoid the cell of office space.

All in all, they want a better world for both themselves and the generations around them. This greatly applies to the employer-employee relationship, too.

According to a 2022 survey by Deloitte, the main reasons that Gen Z employees chose to work with their current employer were:

  • Good Work/Life Balance – 32%
  • Learning Opportunites – 29%
  • High Salary – 24%
  • Positive Workplace Culture – 23%
  • Opportunities to Grow in Career or Take On Leadership Roles – 23%
  • Derives a Sense of Meaning – 21%
  • Flexible Working Model – 20%

1. Inclusivity and Culture Are Required

According to Monster, 83% of Gen Z employees say that a company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the top priorities when choosing an employer.

“They care a lot about the values of an organization,” Farah Mohiuddin, Forage customer success manager, and early talent expert, said. “They want them to walk the walk and not just say they care about diversity. They’re really holding employers accountable.”  

While this tip isn’t specifically about managing tools, it’s important to remember during anything you do with Gen Z employees (whether managing, hiring, firing, or bonding). Culture and inclusivity are necessary. Younger employees want to see a company that stands behind what they say they stand for. If your company culture is based around inclusivity, it better actually be inclusive.

If your managing staff or supervisors don’t adhere to the mindset of equality, any other managing tip will fall on deaf ears. You will have lost your Gen Z employees before you even began.

2. Provide Remote Working Opportunities, if Possible

Firstly, we must note: remote working opportunities may not apply to every industry. If your business requires hands-on work at all times, then you may just skip over this tip entirely.

With the recent, and rightfully scarring, pandemic crushing the nation, younger workers have grasped onto the workplace trends forced by the tragedy. The biggest of which being the needlessness for in-person gigs.

According to a study from GOBankingRates, 29% of Gen Z say they prefer to work remotely (the lowest of all generations), and 27% say remote working is a necessity (the highest of all generations). Though conflicting information on paper, the idea is clear: Gen Z doesn’t like to work from home, but they understand the importance of it for both mental and physical health.

Simply put: younger workers appreciate the opportunity to work remotely or hybrid if applicable. If your business has found that it is a possible avenue, allowing it can help increase the work ethic and morale of your younger teammates.

Training May Be Better off In-House

Ironically, it seems as if younger employees prefer training to be done in person, though.

A study by the NSHSS found that 63% of younger workers said they’d prefer in-person training from their employers, while 13% prefer online.

Overall, a hybrid work situation seems to hit the mark on both sides. Workers can go to the office to train and be managed but can stay home if they find it necessary. But important meetings and training scenarios should be done in person.

3. Collaboration Is Good for All

Ever find that the end product of a task is better quality when your workforce is in-step together? Teamwork makes the dream work, after all. Right?

Gen Z employees tend to agree. Collaboration and communication are key to creating a positive and effective work culture. So much so that a study by Yello found that 51% of Generation Z would rather have face-to-face conversations than text and email.

Communication and socialization are huge for the generation, so make sure that it’s an integral part of your work community. Henceforth:

  • Opt for in-person meetings (or video meetings if needed) rather than phone calls and emails.
  • Check-in with your employees often, even if just a quick daily message.
  • Provide feedback regularly. The employee needs to know where they stand and how you think they are performing.
  • Hold teambuilding meetings or activities when possible.
  • Always be available for calls or messages from your employees.

To harp on the prefacing tips, Burak Ozdemir, the founder of Alarm Journal, told Forbes, “[Gen Z] also appreciate clear communication and structure, so laying out expectations from the start is key. Additionally, being open to new ideas and flexible with work schedules is important—remember that this generation is used to having constant access to information and technology, so they’re often more comfortable working on their own terms.”

4. Opportunity for Growth Isn’t Straightforward

We will restate our point regarding the psychological upbringing of the Z generation. Most of the children raised within that time period were faced with the struggles of surviving the 2008 recession. They had to watch as their parents fumbled for financial survival.

As someone that was in my early teens in 2008,
I can note just how much of an impact seeing the struggle had on my career outlook as an adult.

Furthermore, the aforementioned generation has seen the introduction and success of the start-up revolution. They’ve seen people get rich off of social media, make a living off of Uber, and sell their art on applications like Etsy. Therefore, their vision of what modern employment looks like is very skewed from what you may see.

Gen Z employees want the ability to grow in their place of employment (as do all ages and generations), but they do not see the employment ladder as vertically as those before them. Moving up to a managerial role with the opportunity to lead, but still be led from above, is not as much of a win as it used to be. Younger workers want the opportunity to be creative, be a leader, and collaborate on something that matters.

Ownership Is It

What does all that mean? It means that managing a young employee should involve giving them the opportunity to grow with the company, not just climb up the corporate ladder.

For example, give the employee a chance to learn multiple roles as promotion, not just growing responsibility in one role. Instead of going from associate designer to senior designer, allow the employee’s role to expand, picking up other responsibilities from other sectors. They want to be role-hoppers and work with the company, not for the company. They aren’t cogs in a machine.

Jumping back to the NSHSS study, it found that 67% of Gen Zers want to work at companies where they can learn skills to advance their careers. They are willing to job-hop with the intention of learning new skills, helping them amalgamate a large tree of attributes and abilities for future roles.

Another example: if you have a copywriter, allow them to grow in the role by learning other abilities. Maybe they can learn part of marketing, SEO, or advertising, helping them go from copywriter to content creation specialist. They got a promotion, but it wasn’t from copywriter to managing copywriter. They learned new abilities to expand the role to other areas.

Furthermore, give them the room to express their ideas, be heard, and see projects from start to finish. You will greatly increase production and effort if you let the employee take on a project as their own, not just do one part and pass it on. Allow them to own a project.

5. If One Stands By Individuality, So Should You

If the Z generation is so firm on the concept of being an individual and being respected as one, you should treat them all individually.

Everyone should be treated differently in order to create a congealed and amalgamated team, after all. One form of managing does not fit all. Regardless of whether you’re working with all Gen Z employees or a mixed staff, knowing how each member clicks will allow you to keep them motivated in their own ways.

Employee A works better if I set weekly goals while Employee B is more efficient if I let them work autonomously. Employee A needs more feedback while Employee B does not do well with stern criticism.

Take the time to analyze all of your workers individually. Find out what makes them tick. Be attentive. Not only does this allow you to create motivation techniques that attribute to each of them, but it also shows that you respect all of them equally. Knowing every employee shows respect, therefore employees are more likely to be motivated to work for you and the company.

After all, you are the figurehead of your company in your department. Show them you care by knowing how to work with them. Everyone is different, and that is the beauty of human nature. Get to know each of your employees through trial and error and personal conversations (when the time permits).

6. Perks Are Always Pleasant

The working culture reset that is the Great Resignation has changed the way younger employees see the power dynamics. Candidates are more choosy about what jobs they choose (rightfully so). They see their value as employees and are willing to hold out for a job that treats them with respect and appreciation.

Consequently, workers want to see significant perks when working for your company. They want to have benefits, the option to choose where they work, significant room to grow, and mental health days (to name a few).

58% of Gen Z report they have two or more unmet social needs, such as “income, employment, education, food, housing, transportation, social support, and safety,” according to McKinsey.

Like the individuality of the last tip, don’t believe that throwing money at an employee suffices for a perk. Find out what they desire and need and see if accommodations can be met.

7. Mental Health Forefront

For almost two years, an entire country was locked inside their houses. A swallowing fear of both the unknown and a health-slicing illness lingered above every citizen, especially those with a significantly less backlog of life experiences. Two years for someone that has only lived 20 is significantly more impactful than older humans.

Gen Z focusing on mental health after a depression-and-anxiety-spiking pandemic is not only understandable but honorable.

In 2022, McKinsey found that 25% of Gen Z respondents reported feeling more emotionally distressed. This response was almost double the levels reported by millennial and Gen X respondents (13% each), and more than triple the levels reported by baby boomer respondents (8%). Furthermore, the generation wants their place of employment to both understand and empathize with the ever-growing need for mental and emotional health.

When dealing with an employee, make sure to take their mental well-being into consideration. This does not mean you must sugarcoat every possible outcome or discussion, but make sure to find out how they are doing. How they are actually doing. Provide assistance and time for recuperation if possible (and necessary).

Sure; this doesn’t mean that everything can be chalked up to emotional situations, but it’s important to remember that we are all individuals and are all going through our own issues. Take it into account before moving to your next managerial action. They will respect this decision, at least.

8. Stay Up-to-Date

This tip goes for more than just managing Gen Z employees. It’s also an aspect that can help you succeed as a business.

Furthermore, this isn’t to create some stigma around Gen Z being technological whizzes, but more so to play off their age. They are younger, so in general, they care about and understand new technology.

Make sure to be willing to grow and adhere to new tech. Ask your employees if they have any ideas on new tech regarding a problem and solution. For example, if companies were not willing to bend to the addition and cohesion of video chatting applications like Zoom during the pandemic, they probably didn’t make it out of said pandemic. It’s that simple.

You need to grow with technology. No one knows more about it than your younger employees. Get their takes on things. Adhere to their needs and ideas.

9. No Ageism, Ever

Our last tip circles back to the jokes we made at the beginning of the article.

Don’t be the stereotypical grouch calling a Gen Z employee a nuisance. Don’t say you ‘just don’t get it’. Don’t say you can’t keep up with the time.

The last way to lose a younger employee as a manager is to act under ageism. It’s your responsibility, as a manager, to keep up with the social norms of your team. That’s your job, not theirs. You have to adapt and grow to what’s important to your employees, not the other way around. You can’t pass differences off as an age gap situation and move on. That’s ageism.

Be willing to grow and adapt. Be willing to learn from your Gen Z employees and help introduce their concepts and cultural ideals into your managing style.

This isn’t to say you must bow to your employees. That isn’t leadership. But collaboration is always the best way to improve both parties.