The Phenomena of Gen Z and How to Attract and Retain Young Employees
The influx of Generation Z workers – which generally entails young adults born after the year 1997 – opened the floodgates to an entirely new set of lifestyle and workplace values. With the surge of movements such as the technology boom and mental health awareness accompanying the childhood of such impressionable minds, this leaves older employees (and employers) with older values baffled by the sudden decomposition and ineffectiveness of their workplace structure.
In reality, these conflicts are often due to incentivization. Gartner hypothesizes that the Gen Z mentality regarding work views it more as a subset of life, not apart from it. This is why we see a surge in unconventional employment among young adults, such as social media influencers, content creators, and travel bloggers. Their work compliments their life as opposed to it feeling like a chore.
Of course, not everybody gets to live out such an glamorous occupation, so the question then becomes: How can I make my company more attractive to younger employees, and the right ones, at that?
I’m a Gen Z myself, having been born in 2001, and I’ve been with my current job for five years – meaning I started this job in high school, and have now graduated college, still having the same occupation. What kept me around, you might ask?
1. I was respected, seen, and heard
It’s a fairly dated mindset in the opinion of Gen Z to believe that respect is owed. Rather, Gen Z thoroughly believes that respect is earned, as opposed to owed; for example, just because someone is your senior, doesn’t mean he or she deserves more respect than you do. Generally, if you treat someone one way, he or she is going to reciprocate that same energy.
Gen Z doesn’t want to be looked down upon, they don’t want to be humbled, and they certainly don’t want to be presumed as incapable, despite the fact that this is inevitably a rite of passage into corporate employment. If you make it worth their while, they will handle the responsibilities you give them. They will learn, and it will broaden their skill set, making them more of an asset to your company and sparking a curiosity for them to learn more. It is a known fact that younger generations tend to be more adventurous and curious, and Gen Z is currently the youngest generation in the workplace.
This in turn benefits your organization by bringing new ideas to the table, so long as you provide an open environment for them to provide such feedback and enable them to offer their ideas. However, this cannot happen if they don’t become more familiar with the dynamic of your organization – and in order for that to happen, you have to open those doors for them. This all requires actionable respect. For Premier Aquatics, the OneTeam360 app was what opened those doors for feedback.
How this presented itself to me was that near the beginning of my employment, I was assigned completely foreign contracts that I was not familiar with. However, my regional manager had full faith in me that I could handle it, and she made sure I knew that she was a resource for me. By handing me responsibility, she made me feel like I’m an important and valued asset. Now I’m a manager too, and I have my influence in four different departments in the organization because of how motivating my higher-ups were. Which leads me to my next point…
2. I was given the opportunity to adapt, grow, and learn.
I was challenged and handed opportunities for me to learn how to be better at my job. The four departments that I’m involved in include swim programs, lifeguarding services, marketing, and human resources. They’re all pretty different areas, but I did well enough in one position, as shown in my progress tracked by OneTeam360, that my higher-ups figured that I would also perform well in other areas. So they offered me the opportunity and equipped me to do so.
Did I get it all right away? Of course not. But mistakes are the best way for people to learn, and handling the resulting situations improves problem solving and makes employees wiser, particularly regarding the nuanced areas of your specific organization. What’s most important about this point is communication.
As it goes for every single human relationship, humans aren’t mind readers; how can one possibly realize they’re being put lower on the ladder if they aren’t made clear on not just what they’re doing wrong, but how to be better at it and being offered the time to do so? It takes so much less time to teach an experienced employee a lesson than it does to train an entirely new one.
People mess up. It’s human nature. And on the topic of human nature…
3. I was seen as human.
This is incredibly important. We know that at the end of the day, you want to like who you work with. After all, one of the biggest reasons people don’t like their jobs is because they can’t stand their boss / colleagues. Allow us to be ourselves without fear, within reasonable boundaries. Allow us to be human. It brings out the best ideas.
In a world where technology and image are both so important, it is easy to get sucked into the pre-labeled identities of numbers and metrics. Humans crave human interaction; in fact, the most effective marketing initiatives are motivated by human emotion. This might not have anything to do with the corporate environment, but it does have correspondence with the effectiveness of being willing to tap into humanity a bit more instead of being so focused on the image of professionalism.
Studies show that the happiest workers are the most productive. Don’t make people afraid to be themselves, and certainly don’t shame them for loosening up if it makes people more comfortable as opposed to less. The office can be sterile enough.
4. I found my job rewarding and fulfilling.
Now this one is a bit tricky, because many people have different ideas on what fulfills them. You can be the sweetest peach on the tree, but some people just don’t like peaches. That being said, how can you attract the most peach-lovers?
This goes back to my introduction: incentivization and being a part of their lives instead of apart from it.
Come up with opportunities to connect (on a human level), both inside and inside of the company. Honor those who helped make company-wide milestones and celebrate accordingly. Most of all, let employees see how their work is making a beneficial difference!
If you honor people who work hard, they’re going to want to do it more. This doesn’t particularly apply specifically to Gen Z, but rather everyone. This doesn’t have to be a raise or a promotion. It could look like a small gift, a day off, or some other token of recognition. Be human. We’re sick of being machines.
Every single one of these points is something that OneTeam360 can help streamline. It is designed to be an efficient communication liaison between every single position within the company. Motivate your team members and efficiently increase retention by employing OneTeam360, the employee management that levels up your workforce.