Motivating Generation Z – boosting engagement among young employees

Gen z

Motivating Generation Z – boosting engagement among young employees

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Generation Z are expected to represent 27% of the workforce by 2025 and are the first generation of employees to have grown up entirely in the digital age, born between the late 1990s and early 2010s.

Each generation is different and comes with its own individual strengths, weaknesses and motivations. Generation Z is no exception and is characterised by tech-savviness, communication, work-life balance and an emphasis placed on mental wellbeing.

The question is what motivates employees from Gen Z and how can managers and HR harness the attributes and expectations of these young workers to enable them to thrive at work?

We’ve outlined below some key strategies for improving engagement and productivity amongst employees from Generation Z.

Foster a tech-integrated work environment

Generation Z has grown up in a digital world. For them, technology is not just a tool but a fundamental part of life. HR departments can leverage this by implementing advanced tech solutions that streamline communication and make workflows more efficient. Investing in up-to-date software and platforms not only plays into Gen Z’s tech expectations, but also improves overall work efficiency. For example, utilising apps for real-time feedback, project management, and team collaboration can significantly enhance their workplace experience.

Prioritise flexibility and work-life balance

Flexibility seems to be very important for Gen Z employees who seek to balance their personal and professional lives. In fact, 72% of Gen Z employees have either left or considered leaving a job because their employer didn’t offer flexible working. HR can introduce flexible working hours, remote working options, or even condensed working weeks to cater to this need. By building flexibility into job roles and working practices, companies can better serve employees’ desire for a balanced lifestyle, along with increasing job satisfaction and retention rates among these younger workers. This flexibility also shows trust, which in turn can boost company loyalty and commitment.

Offer regular feedback and robust support systems

Unlike previous generations, who typically prefer annual reviews, many Gen Z employees would like constant feedback to help them understand how they are performing and how they can improve. HR can facilitate a feedback-rich culture that focuses on regular, constructive critiques and recognitions. Additionally, establishing mentorship programs, where experienced employees guide Gen Z workers, can be successful in supporting these employees with the insights they need to navigate their early career.

Emphasise career development opportunities

Like other generations, career advancement is a significant motivator for Gen Z. They look for roles that not only challenge them but also offer clear paths for growth and development. HR can appeal to this by highlighting career progression opportunities during the recruitment process and continue to promote professional development through training programs, workshops, and continued education benefits. This not only helps in retaining talent but also ensures that employees are engaged and motivated to achieve their professional best.

Cultivate an inclusive and diverse work culture

Generation Z values diversity, equity, and inclusion more than any previous generation. They expect to work in environments that respect and celebrate diversity. Organisations can embrace these values also by promoting inclusivity and taking discrimination seriously. Creating employee resource groups (ERGs) and diversity committees can also help in building a more inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued and respected.

Enhance transparency and authenticity

Gen Z employees also care deeply about transparency and honesty from their employers and prefer to be in the loop about company decisions and changes. Becoming a more transparent and honest organisation might involve ensuring that communication and corporate goals are clear and leaders are approachable and authentic. This can be achieved through regular team meetings, Q&A sessions with leaders, and open-door policies that encourage open communication and feedback. Internal communications and staff surveys can be extremely useful in providing key updates to employees.

Mental health support

Young employees are much more aware to issues of mental health and burnout. They’re also more likely to use workplace wellbeing support, and employee benefits more generally, than older employees. Gen Z employees see wellbeing benefits, like counselling, gym discounts, and mindfulness as a must when choosing their employer, so consider this when looking at wellness options and benefit schemes for your workforce.

Recognise and reward

Despite the above, pay is still considered the top of the list when it comes to job desirability for Gen Z jobseekers. Appropriate recognition and rewards can significantly motivate young employees to develop their skills and establish themselves in an organisation. While monetary bonuses are appreciated, non-monetary rewards such as social recognition, additional time off, opportunities for personal growth can also be very effective, such as personal development days. HR should tailor recognition programs and reward schemes to meet these values and expectations, emphasising personal achievement and contributions to team success.

A new generation

Much like previous generations of workers, Generation Z have strengths and skills that can be nurtured by taking a slightly different approach that speaks to them. Adapting an organisation to suit this generation might seem challenging, but as time goes on, more and more employees will come from this group. And as technology becomes more woven into business practices and tools across all industries, the tech-savvy skills of Generation Z will become more important and useful. Embracing some of these strategies can help to motivate this young generation to succeed at work and drive growth and innovation for years to come.