by Chris Dyer
Members of Gen Z are people in their early to mid-20s. And now that more are entering the workforce, it’s time to think about how to effectively lead them. The oldest of them are graduating from higher education today and are searching for suitable employment. Their core values have shifted, and their idea of fair business practices may not be one you’re used to. Learning to lead them successfully is determined by understanding their core values and a willingness to adapt as we enter a new era.
Who Is Gen Z?
Learning how to effectively lead Gen Z requires we know who they are by definition.
Gen Z typically refers to the global population born between 1995 and 2010. Or people in their early to mid 20’s
They’re often confused with Millennials, born from 1980 to 1995, as older generations commonly use the term “Millennial” to refer to teens or young people in general.
Gen Z is radically different from their predecessors in that they have never known a world where the internet does not exist. From a young age, this generation enjoyed almost unlimited access to all the information and capabilities the internet offers–including the ability to connect with anyone across the globe almost instantaneously. This generation is more connected than ever while simultaneously experiencing isolation at unprecedented rates.
Recognize How They’re Different
Because of their shared experiences and majorly progressive worldview,
the collective core values of Gen Z bear a stark contrast to the generations before them
The first step to effectively leading this generation is recognizing, and more importantly, accepting, that they are different from your older, more established employees–including the relatively close-in-age Millennials.
Of course, just understanding that they’re different isn’t enough to help you form a leadership strategy unless you first determine exactly what makes them different. Let’s explore a few of Gen Z’s core values:
They Care About More Than Just the End Result.
Though they’re relatively financially minded, employment isn’t all about a salary for a Gen Z worker. Deciding to accept jobs or remain loyal to a company relies heavily on how well employers align with their core values.
Gen Z was raised on the cautionary tales of their parents and older siblings that had firsthand experience with a major recession. Because of this, they value transparency in the workplace.
Many Gen Z-ers desire to find an employer that offers flexibility, whether in their daily or weekly schedule, their ability to expand their role, or whether or not the company provides the ability to work remotely. Being able to adapt their job to fit into their daily lives–not the other way around–is a high priority to Gen Z job seekers. This makes learning how to effectively lead this generation more difficult.
This younger generation also seeks opportunity more voraciously than those before they did. They often have long resumes of short-term experiences. They will seek it elsewhere if they feel they aren’t being offered enough opportunities for education, growth, or expansion.
Gen Z employees also aren’t likely to put up with a toxic workplace.
Protecting their peace of mind outranks stable employment
as they know they can always go somewhere else where they don’t have to worry about their 9-5 taking a toll on their mental health.
They’re also huge on ethics in their consumption and their production. If they don’t believe a company is diverse, sustainable, or progressive, they may not give it a second thought before turning down an offer or moving on.
They Value Unique Work Environments
Gen Z employees highly value an independent work environment where they won’t be micro-managed. These workers just don’t love the office.
They prefer remote work or a more macro-focused management style Learn how to Create a Hybrid Work Policy
Zoomers don’t like someone constantly looking over their shoulder. It’s often more productive in the long run to lay out the expectations, trust that they will get it done, and let them come to you with struggles, suggestions, or a need for support. Learning how to effectively lead Gen Z could mean going by the honor system.
However, at the same time, Gen Z workers are also highly collaborative. They grew up with the ability to talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time, right at their fingertips–and they’ve spent their whole lives taking advantage of it. Though they prefer to work in a more isolated habitat, they mostly rely on reaching out and comparing notes, brainstorming, and soliciting feedback from their colleagues.
They Value Work-Life Balance
Much of Generation Z maintains the personal and professional boundaries that their predecessors dreamed of. They are the least likely to answer an after-hours email or stay past closing time to get ahead on tasks, though there are always exceptions to the rule. The responsibility has been shifted back onto the employer to be prepared by changing their staffing practices to suit the needs of the business. Management’s lack of planning doesn’t constitute an emergency for Gen Z workers.
They Put Values Over Employment
Longevity isn’t as important to Gen Z as it was to previous generations. They prioritize having a mutually beneficial relationship with their employer.
They aren’t too stressed about staying in a role for a long time, which is why we see more and more “job-hopping” among this generation. 10 Reasons Businesses Are Facing Labor Shortages
They’re likely to abandon ship and seek other opportunities if they feel that a company doesn’t align with their core values and make them feel seen, heard, and appreciated. A quarterly pizza party has more potential to offend them than to convince them they’re valued where they’re at.
The Bottom Line
Because they grew up in a world where rapidly developing technology and constant communication are the norm, they are highly adaptable. They are often ahead of the curve when it comes to new trends in business. Listening to them can yield unexpected positive results for your company and you may find your rate of success increases as you embrace change to suit the modern world.
If you’re not prepared to make real changes to entice them to stay, you might be facing a high turnover rate and increased hiring costs.
Chris Dyer is the founder of PeopleG2, where he managed 30 full-time remote employees and 3,000 independent contractors. PeopleG2 is routinely ranked as one of the best places to work and has been listed as one of Inc.’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies. Having made the transition to remote during the recession in 2009 with stunning success, Chris Dyer is now a world-renowned expert on remote leadership and productive company culture.