How To lead Gen Z in the workplace

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Helen Day, Director of Positive Leaders and a generational researcher, has some ideas that will help when it comes to managing Gen Z in the workplace.

In this post-pandemic world, leaders face several challenges in increasing engagement in the workplace. Not least is finding ways of engaging the newest generation to enter the workforce, Generation Z. Two billion are coming into the workforce, and they will bring about the most significant generational shift the workplace has ever seen. We need to recognise their unique characteristics to differentiate our approach so that we not only acquire but retain this newest talent.

Many Gen Z’s coming into the workplace have little or no work experience. Alongside the rise of technology and social media, this is also the generation who has spent less time face to face with their peers. This generation wants but may not know how to build positive relationships necessary for a flourishing work environment. We need to provide relevant training and development for this to occur whilst role modelling the behaviours we want to see in the Gen Z.

Gen Z has a voice and they want to use it

Gen Z is turning up on day one, wanting to use their voice irrespective of age or experience, which many find pretty aggravating. However, it’s worth noting that Gen Z has come from a cultural background both at home and within educational settings where they have been encouraged to use their voice. So, do we try to silence them? Far from it. We need to manage it. Despite a lack of work experience, this cohort has a lot to offer. An opportunity to reverse mentor, or to lead on a social initiative at work, may well be the key here to engaging this cohort whilst giving them the voice that they want in the workplace.

Despite lack of experience this cohort has a lot to offer

When managing Gen Z in the workplace is important to establish right form the start that feedback is crucial to this cohort. Long gone are the days of waiting for a yearly performance management review. Our latest cohort is looking for a daily dose of feedback. This is the cohort that will respond well to coaching conversations. Leaders could implement regular coaching questions into their everyday vernacular and offer real-time feedback, which will help support the growth of individuals, teams, and organisations.

Gen Z perhaps has more reason than previous generations to experience psychological concerns (e.g. climate change, global pandemic, environmental issues, wars, exposure to harmful content on social media, lack of face to face connection leading to feelings of isolation, to name but a few). They are looking for companies that take wellbeing seriously. Prioritising mental health and embedding a positive workplace culture is essential if you want Gen Z to thrive at work.

Above all, when it comes to managing Gen Z – be curious, be human, be kind, and be the difference that makes the difference.

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