Merchant Capital

Understanding Gen Z in the workplace

Managing different generations in the workplace requires you to understand your staff complement to accurately engage them in a way that produces good-quality work. This is no different when we talk about the latest generation to join the workforce; Gen Z. The problem is various perceptions from older generations view Gen Zs as entitled or lazy and risk interacting with them from that lens. But a change in your perception could help you better manage the incoming generation to ensure the longevity of your business.

Understanding Gen Z

To better understand Gen Z, one must understand the kind of world into which they were born. Gen Z have never lived in a world where Google didn’t exist, so the thought of sourcing information from an encyclopaedia instead of from their device makes no sense to them. They’ve spent their childhoods and adolescence with 24-hour news channels, social media and tv programming tailored to be consumed on their time. They’re accustomed to things happening at their convenience. This is why they’re likely to expect things to happen instantly for them with minimal effort, unfortunately, this is also the behaviour that can fuel entitlement.

They’ve experienced this ease of access their entire lives and this is expected to suddenly change once they enter the working world. So, when managing a Gen Z, you will have to strike a balance between managing their expectations of instant gratification while ensuring that work targets are met. You can’t be expected to hold their hand through every task, but setting out expectations from the beginning, will give them a solid foundation that they can build on.

Mental health

Gen Z are the beneficiaries of the world’s advancements. Globalisation and technological progress has made them hyper-aware of the state of the world. In a declining economy, a world with environmental concerns and racial inequalities, their perception of the future seems rather bleak. In Deloitte’s 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey, 50% of South African Gen Zs indicated that they feel anxious or stressed all or most of the time. This heightened state of anxiety is what fuels them to always consider their mental state when making important decisions.

Of course, some do the bare minimum while claiming it’s in the interest of their mental health, but Gen Z must navigate a world with diminishing resources where they have to secure long-term financial stability and still have time to enjoy their lives. That’s why working for a company with a healthy work/life balance will be their top choice. Gen Z will unlikely stay too long at a company that expects them to essentially forsake their private lives to be employed.

So, considering that, as time goes by, you will find more of your staff complement comprising of Gen Zs, looking at your company’s workplace culture is critical for the longevity of your business. You obviously don’t want to create an environment where people take advantage, but it’s worth investigating how the way you operate can change for the betterment of your employees.

The working environment

Deloitte’s survey shows that Gen Zs think that flexibility, creativity, curiosity and a growth mindset are characteristics that are critical for an employee to have, to help the organisation succeed. Knowing this, think about how you can go about making changes in your business to create the type of environment where these characteristics are encouraged and cultivated.

Gen Zs grew up in a world full of innovation, so they’re keen to learn and gain skills that better their career prospects. Assess how your business develops its people, do you send your staff to relevant training courses that go beyond being a box-ticking exercise for your skills development requirements? Does your business truly empower and upskill your staff with skills that will help futureproof their careers and your business?

The bottom line

The longevity of a business relies on its ability to adapt to an ever-changing world. Understanding the experience of your Gen Z staff could assist you in creating the type of environment your current and future workforce to thrive in.

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