Flipping through social media, I always laugh when I come across an article talking about what Gen Z wants in the workplace because typically it’s written by someone from the Baby Boomer generation. It’s pretty tough to accurately write about a generation that you don’t come from – like a hermit writing about the importance of social events or a mime giving a presentation on public speaking.
So, to help set the record straight, I’ll be speaking on behalf of my generation (like a Gen Z ambassador). As an intern at Bozell, they do a good job working to incorporate some Gen Z aspects into the workplace. Of course, no agency, company or corporation is perfect – there’s constant need for change.
Here are five suggestions to help you better understand the Gen Z workers at your company.
- Trust Your Gen Z: This is a big one. And a tough one. It’s hard to imagine that the kids you babysat or purchased Girl Scout cookies from are now entering the workplace. In your eyes, they’re still those little kids that their parents had to look after, not your employees working on computer code for the company website. Because of this age perception, you tend to not trust them enough to do more challenging tasks believing they lack the experience or the skills. Get that out of your head. Age should not be a factor when assigning tasks and projects – experience should be. Trust your Gen Z workers to do a good job because they are skilled and hard-working, even if they are the youngest one in the office.
- Job Stability > Yummy Snacks: I want to let everyone know that I will never object to free snacks, Massage Fridays or even bring your pet to work day. In an industry known for high burnout, like advertising, I understand why these perks exist. However, at the end of the day, we’re looking for more than a fun culture. Gen Z is looking for job stability, salary and benefits, and professional growth. In a rapidly changing economy, we’re more concerned with how this job will get us to the next, while paying well. We’re less focused on all the fun activities and free food and more on how this job will benefit us in the future. If we don’t see those career perks, Taco Tuesdays won’t mean a thing.
- I Want a Million Tasks: Okay, so maybe not that many … but give us a lot. You have to remember that we grew up in a digital age, constantly switching back and forth from different media platforms. We’re used to multi-tasking in our lives and don’t want our work to be any different. If we’re assigned one task to complete, we will get bored. To employers, this boredom can resemble laziness or being unmotivated. If you see us highly focused and moving at lightning speed, don’t panic. To us, this is more fun and productive. We feel more fulfilled when we can accomplish 20 projects that day than just the one.
- Give Me the Big Picture: Many of us are just getting out of college, meaning for the past 17 years we’ve had several classes full of busy work – those awful worksheets that don’t help us and are just a waste of time. We hated it then and we hate it now. If something starts to smell like busy work, we’ll be pretty unmotivated to do the task. Let your Gen Z employees know the reason for the task. Will it help the company financially? Will it improve the brand? Why is this task relevant? By giving us these answers, we can better understand the importance of the task and can connect it to the career goals we’re hoping to reach.
- Let’s Talk 50% of the Time: This one is definitely different compared to millennials. I think many millennials enjoy an open concept workplace and the chance to constantly be collaborating. Gen Z, on the other hand, does not. This may seem a bit odd since we’re constantly on our phones connecting with the world but, ironically, we’re actually less social than you might think. We need that balance of collaboration and independent work. Be careful though. Too much independence and we’ll get bored and feel left out. Too much collaboration and we’ll start to hide in the office corners during our breaks.
Okay, I lied. I have 6 suggestions. The final one being, ask your Gen Z workers what they want. Everyone is going to be different and want different things in a company. By asking, you’ll get down to what they really want and appreciate in the workplace. Whether that be free popcorn, tons of projects or just employer trust, your Gen Z workers will thank you (trust me, I would know).