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How well do you understand Generation Z? A primer on leading the youngest generation in the workforce

Posted by Neha De

March 14, 2022    |     4-minute read (707 words)

Generation Z (people born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s) is “more aware, self-reliant, pragmatic and driven, they are savvy and demanding customers with tastes and preferences unlike those of any other generation,” shows research from Ernst & Young. In fact, by 2024, they will make up roughly 25% of the workforce around the world. 

Gen Z was born into the age of social media and mobile phones. They are the first to grow up with easy access to a world of information and instant social connection.

During this generation's time, the economy was hard, the Great Recession hit hard and schools were subjected to lockdown drills on a routine basis.This has led them to become much more industrious and pragmatic than their predecessors.

Gen Z has an entirely different perspective on careers and how to define success in the workforce and in life. They are digital natives and don’t know of — or can’t imagine — a world without the internet. They are set to bring both their technological experience as well as their technological expectations to the workplace. This makes business leaders and managers wonder and question how to motivate and engage this generation and create a higher employee lifetime value. 

Keep reading to know how you can understand, motivate and lead Gen Zers for the success of your business. In order to develop and succeed as a leader, it is important to focus on the following four areas. 

1. Inclusion – Gen Z is America’s most racially and ethnically diverse generation and is set to become the best educated generation yet, according to a Pew Research Center report. Therefore, organizations need to build an environment where everyone gets a sense of belongingness. This necessitates a shift away from diversity, equity and inclusion being just a compliance requirement. Instead, DE&I require focus on developing a business mindset that values and accepts the differences of every employee.

Inclusion revolves around respect and, hence, you need to be aware of how to communicate with workers from different backgrounds and with different perspectives in a respectful way.

2. Communication – Being a great communicator requires understanding as well as knowing your audience. And when it comes to communicating with Gen Zers, you may need to use language and techniques that these workers are comfortable with.

Despite being digital natives, research shows that Gen Zers “recognize the promise of technology to improve work experiences, prefer face to face interactions with managers, and are not only eager to learn from other generations, but also believe they can help older generations be more open minded.”

This generation also prefers to have regular and structured communication and constant feedback. In fact, research reveals that 66% of Gen Zers need feedback from their managers every few weeks or more to stay at their job. Hence, it would be best if you were confident and comfortable with providing regular feedback and career guidance and having tough conversations when needed.


3. Career conversations – Gen Zers have an innate need to grow and develop themselves, and they are excited and curious about how their careers will evolve. As such, you need to have positive career conversations and provide Gen Zers with the required steps to grow within the organization.

One way to do so is to collaborate with them on building a comprehensive development plan that includes receiving training on crucial leadership and managerial skills. Gen Z workers may lack essential soft skills and the experience needed for effective leadership, so you need to incorporate such training into their development program.

Additionally, mentoring and coaching also can play a crucial role in their development. Since Gen Zers look forward to regular feedback, you must ensure that you are committed to providing this feedback and helping Gen Z employees grow.


4. Recruitment – With Gen Zers, hiring decisions may be more critical than ever before. So, it would be prudent for you to use company values instead of your personal ones to choose the right people by developing tools, questions and activities that can be used in an interview. When it comes to Gen Zers, it is vital to check for cultural fit and then conduct interviews to take out any inherent personal preferences or biases.

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