How And Why Managing Gen Z Employees Can Be Challenging For Companies
Each new generation brings with it its own challenges, preferences and priorities that help shape the workplace and can create management issues for business leaders.
A new report from Thought Exchange, an anti-bias management discussion platform, profiles the latest and youngest generation to join the workforce— those born between 1997 and the early 2000s—known as Gen Z.
Gen Z At Work
According to the Thought Exchange’s Gen Z At Work report that was released this week, ‘… it’s no surprise that members of Generation Z are at the helm of workplace transformation, redefining the 9 to 5 and setting new standards for employee expectations.
‘’Unlike some generations of the past, Gen Z has no plans of quietly entering the workforce—and, with The Great Resignation underway, it’s imperative that employers take note.”
‘’In fact, as the most populous generation, with over 60 million members in the United States alone, Gen Z is well on their way to becoming the most influential group in the workplace.’’
The report found that:
- 96% of respondents said it’s important they feel valued, included, and empowered at work.
- 80% of respondents prefer a job that allows them to explore and grow various skillsets, rather than a job that is focused on a particular set of skills.
- 79% of respondents value having a manager that cares about their personal development as much as their professional development.
Some managers have found it challenging, if not difficult, to manage members of Gen Z.
Max Benz, the founder and CEO at BankingGeek, noted that “One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in managing Gen Z employees is helping them to develop a work ethic. Many of them are used to being rewarded for things like participation and effort, rather than results.
“I’ve found that it’s important to set clear expectations and goals for them, and then hold them accountable to meeting those expectations. Additionally, I try to motivate them by focusing on their strengths and emphasizing how their contributions are helping us achieve our goals,” he said.
Scott Spivack, marketing director at United Medical Credit, said that “As a business leader, I do manage a fair share of Gen Z employees. Gen Z employees demand more freedom and personal space when it comes to working. They’re not really inclined to work with managers that micro-manage, because it kills their much-needed breathing space.
“Plus, each of them has a varied set of motivations, so it’s hard to figure out what exactly drives them. For some, it’s the idea of growth, while for others, it’s a good pay package. So, dealing with Gen Z employees is a constant learning process and you need to adapt to lead them better,” he concluded.
Teri Shern, the cofounder of Conex Boxes, noted that “One of the biggest challenges that I’ve faced with managing Gen Z employees is they can be very impatient when it comes to learning certain things. It seems that Gen Z doesn’t want to waste time with learning something that they don’t think is necessary to them.
“While this can be excellent in terms of cutting down on learning time and focusing only on what they need to focus on, it can also be a challenge when they don’t realize what the bigger picture is,” she concluded.
Jonathan Ben Zvi is the CEO of All Forward, a technology platform that allows freight forwarders to request and receive quotes from around the world in real-time. He pointed out that, “… Gen Z is used to instant gratification and may become easily frustrated if they don’t see results immediately.
Advice For Business Leaders
Find Ways To Connect
Isaac Tebbs, head of growth at the Millions Visa credit card, noted that” “Managing members of this generation can be difficult, but it is definitely worth it if you can find a way to connect with them and keep them engaged. Some tips for others include being understanding of their need for flexibility, keeping communication open and positive, and offering opportunities for growth and development.” ‘
‘Embrace Their Inherent Skills’
Quynh Mai, CEO and founder of Moving Image & Content, observed that “Some Gen X and Millennial leaders find Gen Z staff members terrifying. They live and shop their values. They don’t hesitate on calling you out when you are wrong or culturally tone-deaf. They think they know more than you do—and in this new digital-first world, they do. The fact is, that in today’s world, they are smarter, faster, and better equipped to cope than we are, so we need to embrace their inherent skills and learn from them.”
Remember Their Strengths
Bronislav Gorbachev, Founder and CEO of Amadei, where 50% of their team are from Gen Z. “Try to remember that their main strengths are creativity, imagination, and openness,” he advised. “This is why I take Generation Z exclusively into positions where they can be creative and free to think, unshackled by various frameworks.
“The reason they stand out in these positions is that they will express themselves to the fullest, find non-standard solutions and approaches, and engage with customers in the same language.”
‘Learn From Them’
“Gen Z is changing work, society and culture at a dizzying pace. Fueled by TikTok where ideas go viral on a daily basis, they evolve daily and are hyper-informed. For their managers, it’s a daunting task to keep up with them. But they have a lot to teach us about equality, civic responsibility and digital culture, so my advice is to ask them questions often to learn from them but also to keep them engaged and involved,” Mai recommended.
Burak Ozdemir, the founder of Alarm Journal, said that” Managing employees of any generation can be challenging, but there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Gen Z. First and foremost, they crave feedback. Make sure you give them regular performance updates so they know how they’re doing and where they need to improve.
Lay Out Expectations
“They 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,” Ozdemir counseled.
“Finally, don’t underestimate the power of recognition and reward; even small things like positive reinforcement can go a long way with this generation,” he concluded.
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