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Gen Z at Work: 4 Tips for Managing Your Youngest Team Members

Posted on January 19th, 2018 with No comments

Employment SolutionsWant to hear something that will make you feel old? From this year on, everyone crossing that magic 18-year-old threshold into adulthood will have been born in the new millennium. 

But these individuals aren’t the much-maligned Millennials; they’re Generation Z. Gen Z represents anyone born after 1995 — or, according to some sources, after 1998. They may not be a part of your team yet, but as the single biggest slice of U.S. adults, they soon will be.
Here at IES, nearly a third of our staff belongs to Gen Z. At risk of showing my age, I’ll admit that I was surprised by how much they value in-person communication. Given that they grew up with modern technology, I expected that they would favor telecommuting and video-conferencing.

I’m not complaining, though. In fact, through face time with our Gen Zers, I’ve learned some important lessons about managing the youngest members of our workforce:

 

1. Give them the wheel when it comes to workplace technologies.

The internet, social media, and smartphones all came of age in Gen Z’s formative years. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Gen Zers turn to technology at work to improve their personal productivity and company processes. 

With that said, don’t be afraid to push Gen Zers out of their technological comfort zones. When one of our Gen Z employees switched from an onboarding role to an HR generalist position, she started using SQL reporting services for data analysis. So we challenged her to help implement our new ERP system. It was a new experience for her, but she knocked it out of the park. 

 

2. Put them on a diverse team.

Having grown up in a connected world, Gen Zers are accustomed to interacting with people of all races, ethnicities, religions, national origins, and more. In fact, a recent EY survey showed that 84 percent of Gen Zers view their ability to work with people of different mindsets and backgrounds as a skill that sets them apart from older candidates. 

Especially in a team setting, the ability to work with people of all backgrounds is an invaluable skill. Build diversity promotion into your company’s core values, and be sure to mention it regularly on your social media. Gen Z candidates will count it as a point in your favor when they’re researching companies to work for. 

 

3. Pair them with a younger manager.
Two-thirds of Gen Z respondents to the aforementioned EY survey said that they’d prefer a Millennial manager over a Gen Xer or Baby Boomer. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. 

First, Gen Zers share communication habits with Millennials much more than they do other generations. Think about all the new abbreviations, slang, and emojis that make people over 40 say “LOLWUT.” 

Part of this also has to do with work culture. In my experience, Gen Z employees easily accomplish their work remotely, and Millennials are much more comfortable with remote work than members of older generations. Just be sure that their managers set clear expectations regarding behaviors and goals without micromanaging. 

 

4. Ask them how well you’re meeting their expectations.

Gen Z has little patience for employers that don’t understand their needs. Roughly a third of the EY survey respondents said that they expect employers to do better in this regard than they did with prior generations. 

To keep members of Gen Z satisfied, provide flexibility through remote work arrangements, ample paid time off, and flex hours. My wife, who manages Gen Zers in an office environment, told me it’s not uncommon for a manager to get a text that says, “I’m working from home today.” That wouldn’t have flown when I was in my 20s, but Gen Z expects that sort of flexibility, with 27 percent of EY respondents citing it as a top priority. 

 

Don’t be afraid to embrace the youth, energy, and tech-savviness of Gen Z. What some may lack in formal education — tuition is getting less and less affordable, after all — they make up for in on-the-job experience. Internship programs can help them test the waters of your company, and tuition repayment can convince them to stay.

 

Above all, realize that Gen Z is rewriting the rules of work. They’re not content to choose between moving up the corporate ladder and developing skills that make them happy. Gen Zers expect to have both. If you can offer them that, you’ll have a smart, diverse, and tech-savvy workforce waiting at your door.

 

Peter Limone is the president and CFO of Innovative Employee Solutions, a leading nationwide employer of record that specializes in human relations and payroll services. Founded in 1974 in San Diego, IES has grown into one of the city’s largest women-owned businesses and been named one of its “Best Places to Work” for 10 years in a row.

Peter joined IES in 2011 as the company’s corporate controller. He was promoted to CFO the following year, and in 2013, he was also named company president. Prior to his work at IES, Peter worked for 3E Company, where he oversaw integration of the company’s accounting, financial, and tax systems. He has also served as division vice president of finance and information systems at Follett Software Company.



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