HR Management & Compliance

Q&A: The Rise of Gen Z in the Workplace

Remember how the Millennials were going to take over? That has already essentially happened. Now, HR managers and recruiters have a new generation to consider: Gen Z. What do they want? Can they be classified? These are the important questions.

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I recently discussed the topic with Andee Harris, the President of YouEarnedit and HighGround.

HR Daily Advisor: Do you think that what Gen Z wants in the workplace is unique?

Andee Harris: What Gen Z wants in the workplace isn’t particularly unique; in fact, what Gen Z wants and what all employees want are quite similar. Like every other employee, Gen Z hires want a deep sense of connection to others at work, a sense of meaning and purpose, the ability to impact their community and lives of others, and to be appreciated for their work along the way. Though these seem basic and straightforward—especially for Gen Z employees—they’re essential to engaging, retaining, and improving the overall experience of every worker.

HR Daily Advisor: What are the major similarities and differences between what Gen Z and Millennials want from the workplace?

Andee Harris: First, it’s important to note that though many believe that Gen Zers and Millennials are similar, they are actually very different. For example, Gen Zers tend to be a bit more competitive in the workplace than Millennials, meaning they’re often more eager to complete tasks on time and work their way up the corporate ladder. Millennials, on the other hand, have been found to be more team-oriented, focusing on finding ways to be collaborative rather than diving into each task solo. Despite their differences, both generations strive for the same success in the office—and want to be appreciated and recognized for it. Without being explicitly told that they are doing a good job, neither generation feels appreciated, which is why it’s crucial to check in with, recognize, and reward all employees on a regular basis.

HR Daily Advisor: As a Millennial, I often feel that employers never really got our generation (and in some cases, really misunderstood us). Is there hope for them getting the next one?

Andee Harris: Absolutely. Ever since Millennials entered the workforce, employers have recognized the importance of creating excellent company cultures and employee experiences for all; employees—not just Millennials or Gen Zers. Companies have also realized that this shift requires more communication, appreciation, and recognition between managers and their direct reports. In fact, our own research found that 67% of employees said that connections with their managers and coworkers affect how long they stay at a job. As more and more employers make this a priority, current and future generations in the workplace will benefit greatly from increased career advancement opportunities, improved relationships with their managers, and an overall more engaging company culture that has become increasingly the norm.

HR Daily Advisor: How important is it for organizations to cater their work experience to Gen Z?

Andee Harris: In order to attract new, younger talent—straight out of college or not—organizations need to tailor their workplace environments and company cultures to meet Gen Z’s wants and needs. Like Millennials, Gen Z employees aren’t afraid to leave if the job or company isn’t meeting their needs, fulfillments, or expectations. It is therefore important that organizations are soliciting regular feedback to keep a pulse on and improve all aspects of the employee experience.

HR Daily Advisor: Will catering a workplace to Gen Z alienate other generations?

Andee Harris: I don’t believe that this will be the case. Once employers have mastered the best ways to engage and cater to Gen Z workers and potential new hires, it will only benefit the other generations that will follow in their footsteps. Plus, the core of what Gen Z wants in the workplace—appreciation, recognition, regular communication, and opportunities for advancement—are similar to other generations’ desires, so companies won’t alienate other generations in implementing tactics to improve these areas.