Connecting with your Gen Z and Millennial employees

  • Paul Eccher

    Paul Eccher

 
 
Updated 8/10/2022 12:22 PM

By 2025 the Gen Z and Millennial generations will make up more than 63% of the workforce, according to United Nations data.

Attracting and retaining younger generations of employees is vital to any business. Leaders should be clear on what these generations value and then decide how to incorporate those values into their existing company culture in order to create a harmonious workplace across all generations.

 

Here are some tips on creating a workplace that will attract and retain these new generations of workers:

1. Prioritize flexibility.

The pandemic dismantled the standard 9-to-5, in-office workday and these generations are all for it, so much so that Forbes recently called flexibility the new currency. Most Millennial and Gen Zer workers want flexible schedules, according to Deloitte and Adecco reports, and in the war for talent, more companies are embracing flexibility as a major benefit offering for younger generations. These companies are more likely to win talent in this group.

2. Expect more personal engagement from your leaders.

Leaders who are work-only, unapproachable, top-down and hierarchical are often much less effective with this generation. Instead, they expect their managers to demonstrate empathy and humanity.

An EY study found that 90% of Gen Z workers desire and value a human connection in their at-work communication. Similarly, a Gallup poll found that young employees want managers who care about them as people and who are actively engaged in their career growth. They expect their leaders to value DEI initiatives and social causes. Those who are highly collaborative and provide opportunities for growth are valued.

3. Deliver timelier, and more positive, feedback.

When it comes to feedback, 60% of Gen-Z workers want direct, frequent communications and check-ins with their supervisors, according to the Center for Generational Kinetics. They also thrive on more affirmative, positive feedback and want to know when their contributions are valuable.

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4. Offer more opportunities to learn and develop at a fast pace.

Millennials need to be convinced why and how an organization will help them learn, grow and develop and further their careers, Harvard Business Review says. Younger generations are more proactive in asking for and even finding training and development. They are looking for self-paced, on-demand and flexible formats. But frankly, this is also valued by employees across generations.

5. Don't let these workers feel stagnant.

Younger generations want to see forward momentum in their careers -- and they're not afraid to ask for it. They are also bolder in asking for promotions and raises. Older generations are used to a top-down hierarchy, while younger generations don't have as much patience for this. Gallup refers to Millennials as a job-hopping generation. Companies with steadfast rules that an employee must put in x years prior to getting a promotion may lose employees quickly.

While adaptation to the younger generations is key to future success, it's important that all generations gel, so make sure you're putting cross-generational teams together and consider both mentoring and reverse mentoring to allow these employees to find the value in each other.

One thing is clear across all generations: Don't make assumptions about employees based on their generational cohort.

While there are undoubtedly differences between generations, many of these differences boil down to stereotypes. Leaders should focus on leveraging the best of what everyone offers to create a vibrant and effective work culture.

• Paul Eccher, Ph.D., is president and CEO of The Vaya Group in Warrenville.

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