How Do You Manage Generation Z in the Workplace?

How Do You Manage Generation Z in the Workplace?

Managing Generation Z in the workplace can be a unique challenge. To help you navigate this, we’ve gathered eight insightful tips from professionals ranging from HR to CEOs. From understanding and setting clear expectations to adapting leadership styles while upholding core principles, discover the best strategies for managing the Gen Z workforce.

  • Understand and Set Clear Expectations
  • Incentivize With Perks and Training
  • Exercise Patience and Educate on Norms
  • Adopt Coaching and Transformational Leadership
  • Respect Gen Z’s Values and Autonomy
  • Offer Immediate Benefits to Individualistic Gen Z
  • Maintain Authenticity in Office Culture
  • Adapt Leadership Styles, Uphold Core Principles

Understand and Set Clear Expectations

I believe good management is agnostic to generational divisions. However, Gen Z has grown up in a personalized world. Recommendations and playlists arrive continuously, built by finely-tuned algorithms to deliver perceived personalization. Why should work be any different?

With this mindset, your Gen Z employees likely have very different expectations of the workplace than prior generations. Acknowledge your expectations when you entered the workforce, how they differed from those of your first manager, and how they’ve changed over time.

Understanding any employee’s expectations, needs, and desires is the perfect way to start building a solid and authentic working relationship. Be honest about how the company can support them and how you will develop them—and where limitations exist. Discussing and agreeing upon expectations, your own and your employees’, is where excellent performance begins.

Jimmy RoseJimmy Rose
Employee Experience, Culture, and Talent Development

Incentivize With Perks and Training

Coming at this more from the recruitment and onboarding side of things (and also once onboarded), it’s crucial that you ensure that you give them plenty of perks and training.

Perks like extra holidays, free giveaways, and potential bonuses will ensure they feel valid within the workforce and will help motivate them to do better and work harder.

Ongoing incentives will prompt them to stay with your company, especially if they can gain extra knowledge and perks all at the same place.

Tracey BeveridgeTracey Beveridge
HR Director, Personnel Checks

Exercise Patience and Educate on Norms

I still remember a time when I couldn’t wear jeans to the office. While it varies from industry to industry, many members of Generation Z do not know about the decades of norms preceding the post-2020 remote and hybrid work boom.

If you’re in the position to confront a member of the generation unaware of this prior expectation, use patience. They may not be aware of the norm, so provide detail and background and an explanation about why it’s important for the occasion.

Trevor EwenTrevor Ewen
COO, QBench

Adopt Coaching and Transformational Leadership

Members of Gen Z are still in the early stages of their careers, and that means a ton of potential to encourage them to grow with your organization. They also embrace change and growth more fully than workers from past generations and are more passionate about enacting positive changes both within their workplace and in the broader world.

They don’t want to be in a role as a “cog” who just moves the machine forward in the usual old way—they want to make a transformative impact and will get frustrated if they see problems going unaddressed despite potential solutions for them.

This is why a more one-on-one, individualized approach tends to work best with this generation. Honestly, that’s a better approach for older employees, too, but Gen Z especially responds well to managers who lead through coaching and transformational styles rather than authoritarian or transactional styles.

Matt ErhardMatt Erhard
Managing Partner, Summit Search Group

Respect Gen Z’s Values and Autonomy

There are certain things that Gen Z as a generation values in their workplace. I keep that in mind when it comes to managing them.  

Gen Z thrives with independence and autonomy and they are technological natives. So, I lean into the freedom they receive as a member of a hybrid or remote work environment. I trust they will complete their work and I promise to evaluate them based on deliverables, not on presence. And since they are used to using technology to work asynchronously, they are more adept at using technology to be successful—and they don’t require being across from me in a conference room to collaborate and be successful.  

Gen Z also values work-life balance. Although I don’t think there will ever be true balance, by advocating for flexible work scheduling, I show support for Gen Z employees by letting them know that they can successfully integrate their work and non-work into a schedule that works for them and for the company.

Eric MochnaczEric Mochnacz
Director of Operations, Red Clover

Offer Immediate Benefits to Individualistic Gen Z

As a recruiter in the tech sphere, I’ve placed a lot of Gen Z workers and helped companies manage them too.

The most significant thing to note about Gen Z employees is that they see themselves as individuals. This can sometimes be misconstrued as a lack of loyalty, but that’s an unfair characterization. Remember, they’re the gig work generation, growing up without an expectation of spending their work life at a single company.

So don’t try and convince them that your workplace is a family—they don’t buy into that rhetoric.

Instead, focus on what you can offer them now. Bonuses are good, as are flexible work policies.

Promises of future advancements, on the other hand, might be ignored.

Tim WalshTim Walsh
Founder, Vetted

Maintain Authenticity in Office Culture

Gen Z is incredibly sensitive to office culture hypocrisy, so if you want to get them on your side, you are going to need to walk the talk. This is more than just one action or set of actions, this is a fundamental way of approaching your corporate identity—if you say something, you had best do it, in a nutshell.

The easiest way to look at this is with something like diversity and inclusion. You can have all of the communications about what you’re doing in the organization when it comes to D&I, but if your Gen Z employees find that the actual experience of that differs on the ground then you are going to have a massive problem. Set cultural initiatives and actually follow through, as Gen Z is extremely sensitive to tokenism in the work setting.

Dragos BadeaDragos Badea
CEO, Yarooms

Adapt Leadership Styles and Uphold Core Principles

You need to consider how your leadership styles need to adapt, develop, or even potentially completely change based on the age and experience of your workforce.

The most important management aspect is still leading by example, so whether you’re dealing with a Gen Z or a Gen X team, your core principles of proper management cannot change.

Wendy MakinsonWendy Makinson
HR Manager, Joloda Hydraroll

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