Are Managers Going To Be Ready For Gen Z Workers?

The next generation of workers are already battle scarred
The next generation of workers are already battle scarred
Image Credit: kris krüg

Ok manager, how is managing those millennials working out for you? I hope that you’ve come up with ways to make peace with them because it is just about time for the next batch of workers to show up on your doorstep: Generation Z. Do you have any manager training for dealing with this? This group of workers will be arriving battle-scarred, socially awkward, and driven by money. Are you going to be ready for this management challenge?

Who Are These Gen Z Workers?

Let’s start this discussion out by saying that there are a lot of Generation Z workers out there. There are roughly 17 million members of the Generation Z who are turning into adults and starting to enter the U.S. workforce. This generation of workers is unlike any that have come before them because they came of age during a recession, a financial crises, war, terror threats, and using social media all the time.

The total number of people who make up Generation Z totals roughly 67 million people. This include people who were born beginning in 1997 up until just a little while ago. Members of this group are interested in getting rich (no surprises there!) but are less interested in owning their own business. This generation did not engage in risk taking as teens and avoided sex, drinking, and getting driver’s licenses. Going forward they are looking for careers that will be able to withstand an economic crisis. In comparison to millennials, Generation Z workers are more competitive and pragmatic. However, at the same time they are also more anxious and reserved. Some good news is that Generation Z workers are the most racially diverse generation in American history. Almost half are of another race besides non-Hispanic white.

In the workforce today, the baby boomers are in the midst of retiring and unemployment is currently low. This means that Generation Z workers are filling a big gap in the workforce. What this means for managers is that we are going to have to learn how to adapt. This may mean that we are going to have to do things like backing off on our requirements for certain jobs that require a bachelor’s degree in order to reach out to Generation Z members who could not afford to go to college. Likewise, at recruiting events we might want to consider doing things like raffling off computer tablets in order to get the attention of these workers.

How Do We Need To Manage Gen Z Workers?

One of the key things that managers can do in order to do a better job of managing their new Generation Z workers is to take a look at how they do training. What we need to understand is that we are now dealing with a generation that was raised watching YouTube videos on their cell phones. This means that our training programs need to replicate YouTube style videos. We also need to understand that they may not find it easy to interact with people one-on-one.

So what do Generation Z workers want? They grew up trusting adults. This means that they want their managers to step in when they need help handling uncomfortable work situations like dealing with conflicts with coworkers. They are also expecting their bosses to provide them with granular feedback. What Generation Z workers want the most is a safe environment in which to work. As managers this means that we need to create small work teams and then take the time to nurture our team members while we are offering them team building opportunities.

Managers need to understand that Generation Z workers are reporting higher levels of anxiety and depression than those who came before them. One of the reasons for this may be the prevalence of smartphones. A great deal of how Generation Z socializes takes place over the phone using text messages and social-media platforms. The result of this is that their natural interactions have eroded and while they were growing up bullying could take on a bigger role in their lives. The good news here for managers is that Generation Z workers are even more adapt at using digital technology than the millennials were!

What All Of This Means For You

Every manager has the same goal: to get the most out of the team of workers that has been assigned to him or her. Over time we have been able to work our way through a number of challenges in doing this. Most recently working with the wave of millennial workers tested our manager skills. Now we are going to be facing a new challenge: Generation Z workers.

In the U.S. alone there are 17 million Generation Z workers. This is a unique bunch of employees in that they have grown up in some tough times that saw recessions and terror attacks. Generation Z workers are looking for jobs that will provide them with stability. They have the ability to work harder than millennials, but they are also more anxious. There is a big gap in the workforce and Generation Z is stepping in to fill it. Managers are going to have to relax what they are looking for in new candidates in order to be able to fill their positions. One of the big things that will need to change when you have Generation Z workers on your team is training. Training will need to become more like watching YouTube videos. Generation Z workers are going to want their managers to step in and resolve workplace issues that pop up. Generation Z workers are more anxious and depressed and they may not have the social skills that they are going to need in the long run.

As managers we made it through the millennial experience. Now we are going to have to retool and get ready for the Generation Z experience. The good news is that we are looking at a smart group of technologically gifted workers who are willing to work hard. However, they are going to need a great deal of hand holding and we are going to have to be willing to take the time to listen to them. If we can learn how to do this as managers, then we will have mastered the art of managing Generation Z.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What are managers going to have to do in order to get Generation Z workers to get along with millennials?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As managers, we are under a great deal of pressure to use our manager skills to find ways to get the most out of our teams. We can try a lot of different techniques; however, all too often we get the same results – nothing changes. The good news for us is that it turns out that if we want to create more open relationships with the members of our team all we have to do is to learn how to ask questions the right way. How hard can that be to do correctly?