Predicted to make 27% of the global workforce by 2025 and surpass millennials as the largest generation, Gen Z is increasingly entering the workforce. Their strong sense of personal beliefs and emphasis on diversity, individuality, and mental health distinguishes Gen Z from previous cohorts. They appreciate employers with similar values and will leave a company with poor Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) policies. Prioritizing DEI initiatives and offering development opportunities for Gen Z will increase their engagement and retention as they grow with the organization.
Understanding the Gen Z workforce
To support Gen Z employees, organizations must understand their goals and characteristics. Gen Z is the most diverse generation ever, with 48% of their population being racial or ethnic minorities and 1 in 6 Gen Z identifying as transgender or queer. There is more support and allyship towards LGBTQ+ members within Gen Z compared to older groups. Gen Z is on track to be the best-educated and most curious generation, as they are more likely to go to college than older cohorts. They want to work for companies with professional development initiatives, as 76% of Gen Z learners believe learning is the key to a successful career.
Events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and social injustice movements instilled a familiarity with resilience and adaptability in Gen Z, even as they simultaneously navigate increasing levels of burnout. A lack of workplace autonomy, financial instability, and the normalization of hustle culture contributed to 46% of Gen Z stating that they feel stressed most or all of the time. Gen Z needs a consistent work environment after experiencing so much instability during their developmental years. Workplace cultures with constant communication, defined expectations, and inclusive feedback will help support their mental health and combat burnout.
Growing up in the height of the digital age, Gen Z is considered digital natives. Although Gen Z has innate technological prowess, they lack relationship-building and interpersonal communication abilities due to their reliance on digital tools. The limited physical interaction in the workplace due to remote/hybrid work also makes it difficult for Gen Z to develop soft skills such as public speaking and collaboration.
Gen Z strongly advocates for marginalized communities, valuing diversity, equity, and inclusion more than previous generations.
A recent poll found 83% of Gen Z consider DEI initiatives a top factor when evaluating potential employers. A work environment with diversity and inclusiveness at all levels is necessary for Gen Z to feel a sense of belonging and an ability to grow their career internally. Company values should align with Gen Zs desire for purposeful and impactful DEI work in the organization and society. Provide opportunities to engage in meaningful projects and social initiatives for Gen Z employees to support themselves and their peers.
Providing growth opportunities and professional development
Training and development opportunities retain and build well-rounded employees that are high performers. Gen Z can easily leverage technology to streamline work processes and embrace remote work and digital tools. To maximize their native skills, organizations must provide training that caters to their needs and wants as employees. Supporting younger employees will create a wave of emerging talent dedicated to a psychologically safe, innovative, and collaborative work environment.
- Communication Skills
Opportunities to develop soft skills in school were limited for Gen Z as education became primarily virtual due to the pandemic and increased technology use. Training on effective communication with coworkers is beneficial and creates an internal network for Gen Z.
Workplace friendships increase employee engagement and foster a sense of belonging. Learning to build virtual connections will improve the work experience for Gen Z. Training that supports relationship-building skills such as empathy, active listening, and allyship are highly effective as Gen Z understands the importance of weaving DEI into their everyday lives.
- Addressing mental health and burnout
High-stress world events and increased media exposure resulted in mental health struggles for Gen Z. They want to work for companies that offer resources to support their mental health and well-being. Companies with an initiative to improve their employee’s well-being and resilience are valued and appreciated. Training on skills such as resilience and mindfulness can help Gen Z navigate their rising levels of burnout and stress.
- Leadership Development
Gen Z will stay at jobs that offer defined growth and advancement opportunities. As Gen Z works to take on higher roles and responsibilities within their organization, it is essential to provide ongoing training to develop the soft skills needed to be a great future leader. Investing in employees early on increases retention and provides opportunities for companies to begin their succession planning and fill their talent pipeline. Implementing mentorship programs fosters personal growth and strengthens multigenerational connections in the workplace.
Gen Z is a generation unlike we have ever seen before. Their unique relationship with technology and adversity makes them an organizational asset. However, many feel unprepared to navigate the workplace and need ongoing training and support. They are seeking employers who invest in their personal and professional development. Implementing policies that support your younger employees will plant roots of inclusivity and productivity that will grow within your company.
When creating a learning program for Gen Z employees, opt for a learning partner with actionable lessons that fit within the flow of work. Blue Ocean Brain has the resources to help you implement the training that Gen Z craves. Our award-winning content library provides just-in-time learning on the soft skills that matter most in today’s workplace. To learn more about how we can support your organizations learning goals, click here to schedule a consultation.