By 2025, one-quarter of all employees will be from Gen Z. Throughout the remainder of this decade, their numbers will steadily increase as a growing percentage of the workforce. With this transition, companies must reexamine communication practices and cultural attributes to better align with the values and preferences of this emerging generation. Among the list of priorities, supervisors and managers must develop the skills needed to effectively engage and work with Gen Z direct reports. In this SoS short episode, AEU LEAD's Joe White offers five suggestions for things frontline managers should be doing daily to improve working relations with your junior-most employees.
They're our youngest generation, one of the largest in terms of numbers, and are on track to be the most educated in history. In today's episode, we're talking about Generation Z. Stay with us.
Hello, and thank you for joining us today. My name is Joe White and I'm the host of Supervisor Skills: Secrets of Success. The SOS podcast series was produced to create ongoing development opportunities for mid and frontline managers. With each episode, we take on topics of interest and share insights and perspectives for the benefit of our listeners.
In today's SOS short episode, we're focusing on Generation Z. We're going to be talking about who they are, what they value, and what they expect from employers. Today's podcast is built around a number of questions we routinely get from managers and supervisors. We hope to shed some light on the topic and share some information you'll be able to use right away.
Gen Z, who are they? As previously mentioned, they're the youngest of five generations now in the workplace. Born between 1997 and 2012, their ages now range from the early teens to the mid-20s. In terms of size, the Gen Z population is around 68 million in the US. Globally, Gen Z makes up 32% of the world's population. In numbers, that equates to about 2.4 billion. By 2025, Gen Z employees will make up one-fourth of the workforce.
As for demographics, Gen Z is by a large measure, the most diverse generation ever. According to Pew Research, nearly 50% of those living in the US are ethnic minorities. Diversity and inclusion are top priorities for Gen Z. If it's not a demonstrated cultural trait, you're going to find it very difficult to recruit them, and even more difficult to retain them.
What makes Gen Z unique or different? They're the first generation considered to be digital natives. Whereas millennials were considered digital pioneers, Gen Z was born into a world where advanced digital technology already existed. Access to information for Gen Z has always been instant. More than half spend 10 hours a day or more on electronic devices. They've witnessed rapid innovation and continuous change. And they're uniquely independent by nature and look to social media to network with others that share common values.
Why is this important? While Gen Z is connected and well informed, they have a tendency to feel isolated and often struggle with social or interpersonal skills. On the job, this can result in higher levels of stress and anxiety, something most frontline supervisors aren't prepared to deal with. Mental health is an area of growing concern for most employers. As we further integrate Gen Z into the workforce, the need for enhanced skills in this area will become increasingly important. So what can you do?
How can you work more effectively with Gen Z employees?
- Get to know them, and help them get to know you. While Gen Z routinely communicates electronically, they actually prefer in-person communication. In terms of what Gen Z looks for in a boss, it's honesty and integrity. More than any previous generation, they want to know that you care about them and can relate to issues important to them. Make sure your actions and example demonstrate these things in all that you do, and your credibility with them will soar.
- Treat them as individuals. While this podcast is intended to capture traits and characteristics of an entire generation, it doesn't portray details specific to any one person. Find out what each of your employees values most and look for points to connect with them through common or shared interests. Where differences do exist, respect them and do everything you can to not let them become barriers.
- Check in with them often. You should build time in your calendar to routinely interact with your employees. This is especially true for Gen Z. 40% of Gen Z employees want daily interactions with their boss, and they think something's wrong if they don't get it. As for providing feedback, forget what you know to be true about previous generations. Gen Z wants ongoing feedback on how they're doing, and they're going to ask for it if it's not provided. As for transparency, they value and expect it. Some comments they make may be perceived as blunt or straightforward. It's not a sign of disrespect. Their view of authority is far more relaxed than any of the other four generations.
- Challenge them. Gen Z employees are pragmatic by nature and hungry to learn. They also want to be involved in problem-solving, and prefer having control over decisions impacting them. When and where possible, allow Gen Z employees an opportunity to step up and outside of their roles, in an effort to bring about growth and improvement for the benefit of all.
- Provide support. As previously mentioned, Gen Z has a much higher rate of anxiety and depression than any previous generation. Only 45% feel their mental health is good or excellent. About half feel stress all or most of the time. If you notice a sudden change in demeanor or behavior, ask if everything's okay. For those wanting to talk, simply listen. Where appropriate, provide support by offering referrals to employee assistance programs or other resources your company may have available. If you're not familiar with the process for doing so, ask your human resources department for guidance.
Learning to work with Gen Z more effectively is important for many reasons. Their numbers in the workforce have and will continue to increase for the next decade or more. What they value and prefer most differs from previous generations. To succeed, we must modify our approach and make needed adjustments to align with their values and preferences.
Gen Z employees want to interact with you and they want to do so often. They value collaboration and transparency. They want to know that you care about them and have respect for those things important to them. From time to time, they may need your help, not to solve their problems, but to listen and provide support for their overall wellbeing.
Thank you for joining us today. It's my sincere hope that you found this topic and discussion of value and benefit. We look forward to sharing additional podcasts with you in the months ahead and welcome any suggestions you might have for topics you would like to see us cover.
We're always looking for guests and enjoy sharing insights and success stories from the field. If that's something you would like to be a part of, just let us know. The SOS podcast series is brought to you by AEU LEAD, a consultancy dedicated to the needs of mid and frontline managers. We value and appreciate any feedback, and encourage you to review and rate your experience with this show wherever you access your podcast.
For additional information about AEU LEAD or to follow us on social media, please use the links in the show notes accompanying this episode. That's it for now. Stay safe and thanks for listening.
About Joe White
As Director of AEU LEAD, Joe White focuses on helping members transform operational goals into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS). He joined DSS in 2011 to develop the next generation of safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences he’s compiled over a period of nearly two decades. His efforts resulted in the development of The Risk Factor, which is now the flagship instructor-led offering for the consulting division. Combined, Joe has 26 years of operational safety experience, the majority of which was with DuPont. Joe has been published in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine for his prominent work in safety relative to behavioral and neurosciences and is an event speaker at many leading industry conferences including National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expos, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA). Joe is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a B.S., in Safety and Risk Administration.