No matter who you are, you’ve no doubt sought the guidance of a leader in your workplace - whether it be the CEO of the company, your immediate manager, or even a fellow team member. Good leaders provide their teams with guidance, additional confidence and constructive feedback. They're essential to ensure workers of all generations feel supported in their careers. And members of Gen Z are no exception to this.
While the ways of Gen Z can seem like a mystery to those of us born before 1997, the fact is, Gen Z makes up 27.68% of the US population, so we undoubtedly need to pay them more attention when it comes to their professional working lives.
With Gen Z beginning to make up the majority of the workforce, it’s important to look at how workplace leaders can best support them throughout their careers so our global industries can continue to thrive.
Let’s investigate exactly what the mysterious Gen Z look for in their leaders and how these desires and demands can benefit members of all generations, not just Gen Z.
We’ve all had those moments during our working lives where we’ve asked a sincere question and had crucial information conveniently left out or just felt like there’s things we weren’t being told that may affect the way we work. This can often lead to feelings of uncertainty or even distrust within workers towards their organisation. Even if the truth hurts, most of us would be willing to admit that it’s better to hear it than to be left in the dark or lied to.
While such transparency and honesty are things that people from all generations value, Gen Z may be the first to actually demand it from their employers. Relationships with career leaders have the potential to improve, even during difficult times for the business, if leaders demonstrate transparency and maintain authenticity with employees.
By creating a culture of transparency within the workplace, it’s easy for that to extend to transparency from the company to its audience/client base. This is something that is highly valued by Gen Z consumers as well. In fact, a Devries Global research study found that a massive “96% of Gen Z respondents indicated that they would be will to pay a premium for brands they deemed transparent.”
Essentially, Gen Z is all about trust. When employees can trust that the company they work for is being transparent and authentic about its operations, it’s far easier to build more positive working relationships. More positive working relationships of course often lead to a happier workplace and happy employees tend to stay with the company for longer.
Whether it be in the form of a diverse team of staff with representation from a variety of communities or an opportunity to freely ask questions and express opinions, the opportunity to have their voice heard is something that is absolutely essential for Gen Z. It can make all the difference for whether members of Gen Z choose to work for a particular company or not. In fact, 83% of Gen Z job candidates think that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer.
Inclusion extends not only to the types of employees that workplaces hire but the way they’re treated once they arrive - and being inclusive is way easier than you may think. An inclusive leader is one that listens to others and gives them regular opportunities to express thoughts and opinions. Gen Z in particular, love being called on by name to speak. It demonstrates to them that their unique perspective is valued and that they’re contributing to the conversation in a meaningful way.
There’s been increasing talk about the idea of being a ‘lifelong learner’ and Gen Z is an entire generation full of them. In truth, they’re quickly becoming the most educated generation so far, with 76% of Gen Z believing that learning is the key to a successful career, which is 15% more than millennials.
So what separates members of Gen Z from their counterparts in other generations? One theory explains that members of Gen Z have grown up during major periods of change; namely the recession of the late 2000s and the COVID-19 pandemic. During these times, they had to watch many family members and friends struggle with the lack of stability. As a result, members of Gen Z learned that the best way to find stability is to learn as much as you can with the goal of becoming an asset to any organisation.
Continual learning not only has the potential to make someone an asset to any organisation in general but more specifically, it can make them an asset to the organisation they’re already a part of. When a company makes continual learning a part of their day to day operation as well as providing adequate opportunities for career progression, it breeds loyalty within Gen Z workers and also reduces the need for external hiring for higher positions by the organisation.
While staying on top of Gen Z trends may continue to elude many of us for now, it’s clear they’ve got the right idea when it comes to asking for what they need from leaders in their workplace and they’re not really asking for much when you think about it. Now that we’re armed with this knowledge, the other generations should follow suit. We all deserve leaders that offer transparency, inclusion and continual learning in the workplace.
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