3 ways to evolve your Millennial insights to help Gen Z employees thrive

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As the workforce landscape evolves to welcome a large influx of Gen Zs, companies are hoping that the changes they’ve made to support Millennials will enable a smooth transition to the younger generation. With Baby Boomers exiting the workforce en masse, Generation Z will soon comprise one-third of the workforce. Providing them with the support and flexibility they need to be successful is paramount to the future of your business.

To ease the transition from a Millennial to Gen Z-dominated workforce, here are three strategies you can leverage to build off the groundwork you laid to support Millennials and help Gen Z employees thrive:

1. Prioritize professional development. Gen Zs want the opportunity to grow in their career, but in ways different from Millennials. A more entrepreneurial generation, they’re less interested in managing others or upward growth, preferring instead to build their career through upskilling. Having seen their parents and older siblings struggle through the Great Recession, Gen Zs value the financial security that comes from having a diversified skillset. They’re aspiring homeowners, but are living with debt from school loans, credit cards, and cost inflation. Millennials experienced the same economic climate, but in real time and with mortgages in hand. 

To better support this younger generation, organizations need to expand their array of professional development opportunities. Career pathways are a great way to help Gen Zs understand their potential future with your company and gain a clear prescription on the skills and competencies needed to advance to their next roles. Another way to foster a more capable workforce and drive retention is by upskilling your workforce through continuing education opportunities. Whether you offer student loan assistance for an advanced degree or provide access to a catalogue of certification programs, Gen Z employees will appreciate the opportunity to build their skillset. Further benefits such as financial counseling services and personalized mentoring can help them manage debt and plan for home ownership or other needs. 

2. Emphasize holistic wellbeing. While Gen Zs want to be empowered at work, they prefer a clear delineation between career and family. Gen Z and younger Millennials report experiencing stress and burnout more than any generation before them. This can have a profoundly negative impact on work performance and employee morale, leading to a high rate of employee churn. However, programs already in place to attract and retain Millennials – wellness initiatives, mental health support programs, and work flexibility – have relevance to Gen Zs too. When you consider that, child care services offer a huge opportunity to attract and retain younger employees. Programs ranging from on-site child care centers to back-up care for children, elderly relatives, and even pets show employees you care about them as people and eliminate many of the stressors impacting day-to-day performance. 

3. Clearly define and promote a value-driven culture. Like Millennials, Gen Zs are extremely values-driven; 39% of Gen Zs and 34% of Millennials have turned down employers that do not align with their values. They’ve pushed companies to be more socially responsible, sustainable, and ethical. Case in point, 44% of Gen Zs and 37% of millennials say they have rejected assignments due to ethical concerns. As Gen Zs become an increasingly large part of the workplace, it’s imperative to build on the cultural groundwork Millennials helped to lay. This means clearly defining your mission statement and core values so that no ambiguity exists among your emerging crop of employees, and then advertising these values to young job seekers. Placing a strong emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives shows prospective employees that your organization understands the importance of having myriad experiences and perspectives in the workplace. Gen Zs will find fulfillment in the socially and environmentally impactful work that Millennials influenced, and that companies responded to. Highlighting HR programs that give employees time off for volunteering, match employee contributions to causes they care about, and support social initiatives will create a much more inviting culture for the new generation.

As the workforce shifts to a Gen Z majority, Millennials’ legacy and achievements will be reflected in the success of the generation that follows. Supporting the unique needs of Gen Z doesn’t require you to overhaul your HR benefits and strategies. Rather, it means building on the solid foundation you already have in place to accommodate a slightly different set of employee expectations and deliver an experience that promotes the collective betterment of your entire organization.

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