Are the younger generation really that difficult?

Last week I attended an interesting day seminar, where the subject of younger employees (Gen Z born from approximately from 1995 onwards) was brought up. Some believe that they are difficult to handle as they are not used to being given orders and they just have them executed without asking questions. However, I wonder if that is so bad. Is it true that Gen Z employees are difficult or is it that they are expecting businesses to up their ante and provide them more than work and a wage?

Research clearly indicates that Gen Z employees show a deep desire for transparency around recognition and rewards at work and when these are missing that end up finding it very difficult to get truly engaged at work. Obviously it is essential for managers to support their Gen Z employees and earn their full engagement. Here are some pointers at how you can work to achieve that.

  • Increase information sharing: Gen Z are the the first fully digital generation, having grown up with extensive access to information in real-time. Thus, to build trust and a stronger connection with this generation, you must prioritise transparency and shift your managing and communication style from a “need-to-know” policy to an “open-access” one. This is true even if the news or information you are holding back is meant to “protect,” such as when business performance is not meeting targets, supply chain issues are on the rise, or you may need to cut their budget. Access to information will alleviate Gen Z’s anxieties and allow them to process and feel in control. This means it is important to have a two-way dialogue with younger team members, with enough space to share and discuss matters.
  • Show them paths to career progression to incentivise them: Younger generations are more concerned with job security and advancement. They want to know what is expected of them to advance and how they can be in control of their future. Thus, be sure to explain to them what it means to succeed as an individual contributor and future leader.
  • They need a sense of Purpose: Younger employees need to know how their individual contributions matter. Research confirms that Gen Z is a purpose-driven generation. Their desire to know how their individual contributions and role in the team help support the organisation’s mission differentiates them. They make career choices and purchasing choices driven by the impact these make in the world. Thus, managers should consider setting up sessions to speak about the team’s vision and impact on the organisation. We all need to understand our roles and responsibilities to do our jobs, but Gen Z needs to understand how and why their role matters.
  • They need room for autonomy to remain motivated. Having grown up with unfettered access to information, younger generations seek to make informed decisions on their own. They need room for experimentation to prove themselves. Thus, in order to keep them motivated, flex your management style and give them greater room and autonomy to explore and figure out improvements in work processes. They might surprise you with a better outcome.
  • They need specific, constructive feedback, not judgement. You need to demonstrate that you are invested in their success. Younger generations need to feel that your interest is to carve opportunities for them to learn and help them make an impact on the outcome in real time. So make sure to provide continuous, clear feedback with real-life examples of what is working or not working, and action steps that increase your Gen Z team’s self-awareness. Take this as a coaching opportunity and provide them with prompt questions that allow them to reflect and explore different outcomes.
  • Push the team element. Many Gen Z employees are addicted to technology. They also have an inclination to prefer remote or hybrid way of life. This means that they have likely haven’t had as many opportunities to forge deep professional relationships that are often created in person over a period of time, like previous generations. Thus as a manager you must also create opportunities for in-person interactions that will create connections and camaraderie such as team building activities, project kickoffs, team celebrations and team discussions. Creating shared team experiences like these will help develop stronger bonds…and while in-person interactions are ideal for team building, intentional remote activities will also help.
    • Prioritise wellness and mental health to show you care. The need for employees to feel that they are being cared for as a human being is there across all ages. However research clearly shows that Gen Z’s top wish from their leadership is that they feel care about their well-being and mental health. As a leader, it is your shared responsibility not just to elevate the team’s performance but also support their well-being to perform at their best. Thus, organizations and leaders must create a culture, practices and resources that support Gen Z’s mental wellness.Empathy goes a long way to create a shared connection and open up avenues of communication and deeper conversation. Then, work to create a team culture that allows for vulnerability, open communication, and makes time for mental recovery. Addressing what impacts the team will improve their overall effectiveness and allow you to manage timelines and priorities around mental wellness just as you would for physical illness.

    IN A RECENT STUDY AMONGST FAMILY BUSINESSES HELD BY THE FAMILY BUSINESS COMMITTEE WITHIN THE MALTA CHAMBER AND THE FAMILY BUSINESS OFFICE, IT IS CLEAR THAT THE TOP PRIORITY FOR FAMILY BUSINESSES IS THAT OF “RETAINING THEIR EMPLOYEES”. THE RESULTS AND INSIGHTS THAT EMERGE FROM THIS RESEARCH AMONGST FAMILY BUSINESSES, WILL BE PRESENTED DURING AN EVENT TO BE HELD ON THE 1st FEBUARY, 2023 AT 9AM AT THE MALTA CHAMBER.

    CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

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