8 Tips for Managing Gen Z in the Workplace
Gen Z is composed of individuals who were born between the years 1997 and 2012. Now that it is 2023, many of these individuals have finished their education and are beginning to enter the workforce.
But unlike some of the generations before them, Gen Zers aren’t as motivated by career advancement, and they care much more about social and political issues than any other generation. So how do you manage these individuals in the workplace?
Read on to learn more about the motivations of Gen Z and tips for managing them in the workplace.
Why You Need to Know How to Manage Gen Z
Management is always a delicate balance in the workplace. You need enough oversight to ensure tasks are completed, but not so much that individuals feel micromanaged and are distracted by their managers.
Additionally, as the times have changed, so too have what employees expect of management. And when an employee is managed in a way that they aren’t prepared for or comfortable with, this can increase the turnover rate of your business as well as lower overall productivity.
In one study performed in Ethiopia, leadership styles were found to be one of the most influential aspects of successful output in information technology. While not every business on the market is an information technology business, Gen Z is one of the most tech-savvy generations, meaning they will inevitably end up in information technology positions.
If you don’t know how to manage Gen Z properly, you will quickly find yourself losing your new hires, likely to the competition. This is why it is so important to take the time to learn how to manage Gen Z effectively to keep them on your payroll.
Plus, managing Gen Z in a way they are responsive to will increase morale and productivity.
It’s also important to recognize that generational differences are huge. While Boomers prepare to retire, businesses need to recognize that Gen Zers will be their next hires, and this generation isn’t motivated by the same management style as their predecessors.
If your business is able to coach managers to successfully manage Gen Z, then it is likely that your business will experience success in the changing technological climate.
8 Tips for Managing Gen Z
1. Build Trust in a Way They Understand
Gen Z was a generation that was raised with access to the internet. Unlike Millennials, who can remember a time with a house phone and dial-up, Gen Z has never been without their handy dandy phone.
As a result, much of Gen Z have online friends who they have never met in real life. They find it easy to trust people they have talked to frequently but may have a more difficult time making meaningful in-person connections.
No matter what generation your employees belong to, it’s important to have trust between employees and their managers. With Gen Z, you may have to coach your managers to bond with employees in ways that you wouldn’t consider in previous generations.
For example, when a Gen Xer is ill, they will likely call the manager to report their illness. But for a Gen Zer, they would feel much more comfortable and trusting if they could contact their manager by text or email.
Consider adding information to your employee intake form, such as the preferred method of contact. It is also a good idea to schedule times for your employees and managers to bond, such as a Friday after-work activity or perhaps a weekend luncheon.
2. Think Self-Management Whenever Possible
While Gen X may have benefited from having someone check over their work with frequency, Gen Zers are used to the gig economy. This means they prefer to be able to manage themselves whenever possible.
Watching the rise of Airbnb and Uber, this generation is not about to put up with any micromanagement. They know that if they don’t like their job, they can easily start their own in the gig economy, and they aren’t afraid to either.
Gen Z also prefers to choose their own hours and their work location. If your business has the ability to allow them to do so, you will find these employees very easy to manage.
Because Gen Z saw their parents struggle through the 2008 recession, many of them are self-motivated even though they are still considered young. Even if you can’t give them the freedom to work wherever they want whenever they want, they will value being allowed to manage themselves when possible.
It’s also important to note, from a hiring standpoint, that Gen Z is much more likely to gravitate towards a job where they will be able to manage themself more. This is something your business should highlight in the interview process when trying to attract Gen Z employees.
3. Encourage Work-Life Balance
Like Millennials, Gen Z knows there is more to life than work. While you may have been able to convince Gen X to work longer and harder for a promotion, Gen Z will not respond well to the same tactics.
Instead of using promotions and raises as performance incentives in the workplace, try using incentives that promote a work-life balance. For example, instead of offering a raise or monetary bonus, offer additional paid days off for the year.
It’s also important to direct managers of Gen Z workers to ensure they react positively to life events in the life of their Gen Z employees. Gone are the days when employees are expected to report to work when sick (thanks COVID pandemic), and employees will value when you are thoughtful when one of their family members dies.
Empathy training, especially in the confines of remembering that employees are human, will go a long way toward retaining your Gen Z employees.
4. Respect Worldviews
Over the past decade, the United States has become more politically polarized than ever before. Suddenly, politics and differing world views are powerful enough to split families and stop friendships.
Gen Z has been raised with a “block” button that has allowed them to effectively cancel anyone they feel is against their beliefs.
This can be difficult to deal with in the workplace, and there is no one way to resolve these differences. As a result, many businesses have banned the wearing of political apparel and asked employees to not speak of these topics in the office.
Whether you decide to follow suit and issue a ban or to require that employees attend training about respecting the views of others, you need to acknowledge that this could cause problems in the workplace, especially with Gen X or Millennial managers who aren’t yet aware of how dividing the current political climate is.
5. Allow Technology Access
Millennials, who grew up without mobile phones, often have no problem putting theirs away during working hours. But for Gen Z, who has never been without technology, the phone during work hours has become a huge debate among employers.
Of course, you don’t want your employee to be distracted by their personal device during work hours, but chances are, they will end up using it anyway because Gen Z simply doesn’t know how to live their life without technology. In fact, many Gen Zers report they feel uncomfortable when they don’t have access to technology.
Managing Gen Zers is much easier when they are allowed to use the technology they are familiar with. While it is still a good idea to ask for no mobile phones during meetings etc., allowing Gen Z to use personal technology during work hours can help to keep them happy and comfortable in the workplace.
Take the time to develop a new technology policy for your workplace, one which Gen Z will feel comfortable with. While it doesn’t have to give them free rein on their phones all the time, it should allow them to access technology without feeling guilty about it.
6. Offer a Stake in Projects or Business
As mentioned above, Gen Z isn’t going to want to work crazy hours for a promotion. But this doesn’t mean that Gen Z doesn’t want to further their career. Rather, it means they want to further their career in a way that creates meaning for them and not someone else.
Gen Z takes pride in ownership (which is why they love the gig economy) so offering them partial ownership of a project or a company will go much further with them than a promotion will.
This can also be a great place for businesses to save money, as Gen Z knows the value of investing, therefore, they may accept stock options over the issuing of a raise or bonus.
7. Skip Face to Face Whenever Possible
Gen Zers have lived during the pandemic. Many of them, if they attended college, did so partially online. They also spent time with friends in digital environments like digital game nights and wine tastings, making them very comfortable with digital spaces at work.
Instead of requiring employees to attend face-to-face meetings, experiment with using a digital space like Zoom. Gen Zers will appreciate this much more and will feel more comfortable in this environment than they will in person.
In fact, it’s a good idea to use video interviews to acquire Gen Z employees, as this will show them the tech-savvy aspects of your business and will attract them to your company.
You should also establish a protocol with managers for which meetings can be done virtually versus in person. Your Gen Z employee will appreciate the effort!
8. Allow Gen Z to Work Efficiently
Gen Z loves technology because it is a much easier way to get work done. Many Gen Zers who are already in the workforce express clashing with management over efficiency proposals.
Gen Z wants to do everything as efficiently as possible, even if it means replacing a process with a digital one. This can often cause issues with Gen X and Millenial employees who report they do a process a certain way because “that’s how it’s always been done.”
To keep Gen Z happy, it’s a good idea to implement an open-door policy where they can submit proposals for more efficient processes in the workplace. It is also a good idea to incentivize employees to work more efficiently rather than incentivize them to work for a certain amount of time.
Many companies have instituted a policy that as long as the work is finished, they don’t care what hours their employees work (within reason), which has some far-reaching implications for employees and companies.
On one hand, employees are able to schedule doctor’s appointments, drop their kids off at school, and pick them up without having to worry about getting in trouble at the workplace. For employers, it has also made it easier to complete payroll. Rather than ensuring employees clock in and out at specific times each day and meet hour requirements, they instead look to see if the work was completed.
This has simplified payroll and allowed companies to get rid of their time clock systems. It has also created a better work-life balance in the workplace, which has helped with employee retention.
While this option may not work for every company, it can be beneficial to see if it would work for yours. For example, instead of having set office hours, you can require employees to be in the office just for face-to-face meetings and have milestones with their work they must meet each week to get paid.
You could also ask that employees be available digitally for certain hours (via phone and email) but allow them to work from wherever. This second idea has been implemented by many companies as it allowed them to get rid of their massive office space. Now, they simply have a conference room available for meetings or have managers meet employees digitally.
No matter how you decide to allow Gen Z to work, just ensure it allows them to work efficiently, even if it involves adopting technological processes. They will value you this much more than being told how to do something and are more likely to stay with your company long-term.
Ready to Better Manage Gen Z?
Now that you know a little bit about Gen Z and how to manage them in the workplace, you are prepared for the hiring of this generation. No matter what type of company you own, Gen Z can be a great addition to your workforce from a technological standpoint, and these workers will be necessary as Boomers retire.
Once your company has policies that will be attractive to Gen Z workers, be sure to check out what you need to know about hiring Gen Z before you start your recruiting and hiring process.