Advice to Business Leaders about Gen Z

Today’s tip is a guest post from a Gen Z (people aged 6-24) employee.

Generation Z will soon become a dominant force in the working world, and with that will come some inevitable changes in the way businesses run. Being a part of Gen Z, I think that I’m qualified to share some insight into how this generation thinks, and what they look for in a company’s culture.

While salary has always been the biggest deciding factor for any generation when choosing their career, Gen Z values this least compared with other generations. There are three factors that are more important than salary, and I am going to highlight them today: Technology, mutual mentorship, and mental health.

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Technology is a tool for others; a hammer to build a house. For Gen Z, technology is the ocean that they swim in. Gen Z grew up watching their parents become the first digitally connected workers in the workforce. It is not unusual to have a parent answer a work email on their phone at night or have a conference call on Zoom while on vacation.

As work becomes more digital and tech-focused, it is important to not only give your Gen Z employees opportunities to utilize the technology they have spent their entire lives using, but also take the opportunity to learn from them in an ever-evolving workplace. As the professional world becomes more tech-centric and modernized, there is a lot you can learn from the generation who lived and breathed these tools from the day they were born.

Mutual Mentorship

Gen Z is known for a lot of things, and perhaps you have a few stereotypes in your head right now: lazy, entitled, risk-averse, non-entrepreneurial, sensitive, the list goes on.

While no generation can be generalized with a few words, many of these attributes come from how they were raised. There is a need for mentorship, for a caring voice in their life to clarify the rules of the world, and help ease the transition from higher education into the real working world.

My university experience included ‘safe spaces’ and rooms set aside for people who felt ‘triggered.’ This doesn’t work in 99% of workplaces, and for some it means a rude awakening.

Gen Z people need older generations to mentor them and help bridge that gap. Older people also need Gen Z to help them learn about technology, and about the way the world is changing. That’s mutual mentorship.

Mental Health

Lastly, mental health is a real issue. A pandemic, some might say. Mental health may not be something that was talked about in generations past, but it’s a big issue today that many Gen Z people are afflicted with. Consider these stats on mental health:

  • 50% of Canadian households are affected by mental health issues
  • 500,000 Canadians per week stay home from work due to mental health issues
  • Depression/anxiety is the 2nd leading cause of disease in Canada

So, what can you do to help a co-worker or employee afflicted by these issues?

  • Give them a safe place to talk about it. Don’t be shy; engage with them. If they had a broken leg you wouldn’t be afraid to ask about how they’re doing with it. When they have a mental injury, you shouldn’t be afraid to engage them either
    Take them for a walk: walking produces endorphins which helps them feel good. It produces forward motion. It also gives them a place to talk about how they’re doing
  • Gen Z is now entering the workforce. There are differences to this generation, but they’re just people, and they respond to the same things anyone else does: Care, encouragement, correction when needed, and above all, relationship.

Focus on these things and the transition will be seamless!

Have a great week,

Sam Throness (Gen Z!)

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