“Work to Live, Not Live to Work” – Are your managers ready for Gen Z?
“Digital Natives” – employees reaching adulthood in the second decade of the 21st century – are predicted to make up over 25% of the workforce by 2025. Perceived as being familiar with the internet from a very young age, these individuals may require implementation of a different strategy to attract, manage and retain their talent.
The environment is an individual workspace, with plenty of room and a flexible approach to working hours, working from home and ample time to “unplug” from task. Role hopping is attractive, with a desire to work on projects outside of the designated job description; social interaction, communication and connectivity with other work colleagues is essential for Gen Z to thrive. It is often misconstrued that the employee doesn’t care about money; however, stark recent memories exist of recessions and debt, therefore financial security is crucial in attracting talent.
This is often more complex than a competitive salary; consider health care support, education and training, maternity/paternity policies, rewards and bonuses or even student loan support. Financial security also means offering a clear road map to promotions and success from within the company, far beyond climbing the corporate ladder. The employer has a superb opportunity to breed a loyalty rarely seen previously, with a well thought-out, inclusive succession plan. Although job titles are secondary, the desire to lead is very much alive and kicking. Provision of the security blanket craved will result in employees working harder and longer than ever before.
Managers should encourage communication and collaboration through on-line apps, social media and video conferencing; adequate technology should be supplied to achieve this. Swap the phone call for email, text or message for comms; regular consistent feedback, praise, reprimands and performance reviews are critical for providing the human interaction and connection required. The bond may be reinforced further using team building activities or social events.
The Digital Native is the death knell for the micro-manager; setting the employee up with a project from start to finish will deliver remarkable results through the execution of superior research skills, innovation, creativity, self-learning and development. Access to learning tools, preferably in video format (not documents) will improve the chances of success further; progressive managers should encourage their team to take responsibility and ownership through mentoring and coaching. The workplace will be respectful of ideas and suggestions regardless of age and demonstrates a work culture that promotes diversity and inclusivity.
Pro-active management of stress levels completes the strategy, with plenty of time for the employee to switch off and unwind; the modern manager is effectively trained in identifying and managing mental health and well-being scenarios and can make the necessary interventions and adjustments. A relaxed productive team will achieve the workload in a shorter period, therefore maintaining control over their time and achieving the work-life balance craved.
Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennial managers must work hard to develop their management skills in accommodating Generation Z workers; this will require embracing technology, advanced HR and performance management with higher level coaching techniques, without alienation of existing alternative generation workers. The different competences required of managers are profound, and leadership teams should offer the necessary training required to develop their managers accordingly.
Are your values, systems and employment processes Gen Z friendly? Is your business missing an opportunity to attract and retain the next generation of “super-talent”? What is your current percentage mix of Gen Z workers? Is your management team fluid enough to respect generational differences and adapt their approach? Chadwick Lawrence is here to help with any employment law issues, so please call 01924 379 078 to discuss any points raised in this article.
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