While this generation possesses unique skills, perspectives, and hungers for opportunities, many leaders seem oblivious to the fact that they do not appeal to this talent pool. In this post, we’ll review why leadership often fails to recognize the problem and the potential consequences of this oversight.
Generation Z: A Valuable Asset
Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, grew up in a digital world. They are tech-savvy, adaptable, socially conscious, and possess an entrepreneurial spirit. As the oldest members of Gen Z enter the workforce, they bring fresh ideas, innovation, and a desire to make a meaningful impact in the world.
However, many leaders overlook this potential and, instead, view this new generation as entitled, disloyal, and idealistic.
The Evolving Nature of Work
The modern workplace is evolving rapidly, with new technologies (such as AI). This new generation (of 20-somethings) also learned how to survive by working online during the pandemic, and they are the most vocal and adamant about demanding flexible work arrangements. Gen Z values work-life (or life-work) balance, purpose-driven careers, and opportunities for continuous learning and growth.
Unfortunately, traditional leadership approaches often fail to acknowledge these shifting dynamics. Rigid work schedules, return-to-office policies, and outdated management styles can stifle Gen Z’s enthusiasm and engagement, often leading to their quick retreat from the organization.
Effective communication is crucial for bridging the generational gap, yet it is often overlooked because the channels of communication are just as important as the message. Gen Z employees crave frequent feedback, transparency, and meaningful connections with their managers at various levels.
However, many leaders rely on modes of communication, such as email, that are more formal and less immediate (than messaging or chat on Teams or in Slack). This communication disconnect creates a sense of distance, and sets up the path to disengagement among younger employees. This often leads to their frustration and, ultimately, attrition.
Lack of Opportunity for Growth
Gen Z employees are often eager to learn, grow, and acquire new skills. They value diverse experiences and opportunities. Because they grew up in tumultuous times, when it comes to technology and news, they are accustomed to an environment when change occurs all the time, at a rapid pace. Unlike their older counterparts, they are more comfortable with the reality of a constantly shifting and changing landscape.
For this reason, they value diverse experiences and often seek opportunities to take on new challenges. Organizations that don’t prioritize professional development, or fail to offer clear career paths, will struggle to retain this type of talent. Leadership needs to invest in training initiatives, rotational assignments, and mentoring programs that cater to Gen Z’s desire for continuous growth and development.
Embracing Diversity and Inclusion
Gen Z values an inclusive workplace where they can bring their authentic selves to work. Leadership often fails to create a truly inclusive environment (despite slogans to the contrary), which risks alienating Gen Z talent.
By embracing and institutionalizing inclusion initiatives, organizations can tap into the full potential of their younger employees and keep them, fostering a sense of belonging. The bonus, for the organization, is the innovation this younger generation creates as they search for new technologies to streamline processes and workflows.
Leadership’s failure to recognize the problem of retaining and recruiting Gen Z (and younger Millennial) talent can have difficult consequences for organizations. Neglecting this vibrant, new generation means losing out on fresh, innovative perspectives and valuable contributions.
By adapting leadership strategies, embracing new communication methods, and fostering inclusive environments, organizations can attract and keep valuable younger talent, and set themselves up for long-term success in an evolving business landscape.
Interested in learning how to move forward? Download the white paper, How to attract & keep younger (Gen Z) talent here.
Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Gen Z (born 1997-2012) are the youngest generations in the workforce, and they present unique challenges for CEOs looking to attract, onboard, train, and retain top talent. This free white paper gives valuable steps to helping CEOs and leaders create a positive culture for the future workforce.