The New Workforce: Adapting to Gen Z Demands

Finding talent is an issue for nearly all businesses. There are many reasons for this, but the top three may be (1) adjusting to a new normal that is not yet fully formed, (2) the generational shift in leadership and (3) the scarcity of talent. The result of this confluence of issues is that leaders must be able to be flexible. One of the ways they need to be flexible is learning new ways to manage a multigenerational workforce, particularly by understanding the unique needs and expectations of Gen Z employees.

Gen Z concept with hand pressing a button

Gen Z is the latest generation to enter the workforce and, like every generation that came before it, brings with it Gen Zers’ views of what work should be. That view — again, like other generations — is colored by the world Gen Zers grew up in. The Great Recession of 2008, the threat of climate change and the polarization of politics in the U.S. are three concerns that helped shape how they view the world. The current Great Resignation only adds to their perception of work. Nevertheless, while this generation wants to shape their work environment, they know they must work so they can pay their bills.

Given this complicated dynamic, how do business owners attract and retain Gen Z talent? Businesses need to consider two separate buckets as they approach this. The first is that the internet and smartphones were at the fingertips of many Gen Zers from the time they were born. Gen Zers are not afraid of broadcasting their views about work or anything else on social media. The second is that Gen Zers want their employers to see them as individuals, not just as cogs in the corporate wheel.

  • Shares their values and ethics.
  • Allows a mix of in-house and remote work but does not require a 40-hour, 9-5 workweek.
  • Does not make them feel underpaid, underappreciated or overworked.
  • Provides opportunities for advancement.

To provide the kind of work environment Gen Zers are seeking, company leaders must be flexible enough to rethink their established protocols. Here are five tactics companies can use:

  1. Rethink the work model from focusing on the number of hours worked to setting parameters such as end dates for completing tasks. This changes the focus from punching a time clock to empowering the workers to perform in a way that allows them to mesh their personal and work lives.
  2. Build mentorship and coaching into the job. Taking this step allows younger workers to learn from experienced workers, gives them a feeling of accomplishment and provides a path to career advancement.
  3. Provide real-time feedback. The need for instant gratification is a byproduct of growing up with Siri, but that is what Gen Z wants. An annual performance review is not a concept a Gen Z employee understands. Instead, they need to know how they are doing in real time. Company leaders need to intentionally build providing feedback, which can be as simple as a thumbs up, into their day.
  4. Offer lifestyle perks that enhance health and wellness. Perks such as flexible spending accounts and employee assistance programs show employees their mental and emotional health are valued. Other ideas include putting live, oxygen-producing plants in the office or providing ergonomic work stations.
  5. Show corporate social responsibility. Working with companies that value more than the bottom line is important to Gen Z. Offering perks that support this, such as paid time off for volunteering, is attractive to Gen Z.

The talent shortage is not going away. Neither is the pace at which older generations are retiring. Company leaders seeking to have sustainable businesses need to pay attention to what Gen Z, the youngest workers entering the workforce, are looking for in an employer.

We welcome the opportunity to put our accounting expertise to work for you. To learn more about how our firm can help advance your success, don’t hesitate to contact Kathy Corcoran at (302) 254-8240.


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