How to Integrate Gen Z into the Multi-Generational Workplace

The workforce is more diverse than it has ever been, particularly in terms of generational diversity. Due of differences between various demographic groups, it might be difficult to build a workplace where engagement, loyalty, and productivity are strong. There is currently consensus that there are five different generations working in the world’s workforce. These age brackets are defined as follows: traditionalists (born 1922–1945), baby boomers (1946–1964), Gen X (1965–1980), Gen Y/millennials (1981–1996), and Gen Z (1997–2012) based on data from a study by the Pew Research Center.

According to the website Statista, the primary worldwide labour breakdown will be made up of 6% baby boomers, 35% Gen X, 35% Gen Y, and 24% Gen Z by the end of the year. Additionally, according to EY’s Global Generations: A Global Study on Work-Life Challenges Across Generations, three-quarters of the world’s workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025.

Source (Pew Research Centre)

Generations in the workplace: 

Traditionalists: Born Between 1922 – 1945

Baby Boomers: Born Between 1946 – 1964

Generation X: Born Between 1965 – 1980 

Generation Y (Millennials): Born Between 1981 – 1996

Generation Z: Born Between 1997 – 2012

Gen Z and Y are becoming more prevalent in the workforce, which means that HR executives and their organizations must figure out how to engage a workforce made up of multi-generations, each of which has its own defining traits, values, and attitudes influenced by the formative events of its period. When considering talent engagement, learning, recruiting, benefits, and retention, HR professionals must consider both the differences and the commonalities within all generational groups, as it is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach that companies have used in the past no longer works.

While understanding all generations is important for HR leaders and organizations in general, this article focuses on Gen Z, which is the youngest generation entering the labour market, and why is important to listen to them to be able to better integrate them to a multi-generational workforce.

Understanding Gen Z’s influences, priorities, mindsets, learning styles, preferred work cultures, and its fears.

To better understand Gen Z it is important to consider which influences, priorities, mindsets, learning styles and preferred work cultures, as well as its fears. 

Some of Gen Z characteristics are:

  • Digital Natives
  • Diligent problem solvers 
  • Concerned about cybersecurity and privacy 
  • Value-conscious, committed and eager to make a difference
  • Extremely committed to and directly active in humanitarian causes 
  • Need timely and regular feedback

Some of their fears are:

  • Loss of privacy
  • Cyber warfare
  • Environmental harm (climate change)
  • Global economic instability and global terror/safety concerns

Additionally, it’s important to understand that all generational groups share some similarities. Some of those shared between Gen Z workers and other generational groups are:

  • Desire for respect
  • Meaningful work
  • Growth Opportunities
  • Professional and career development
  • Flexibility
  • Purpose and impact
  • Financial rewards reflecting work contributions

In contrast to previous generations, Gen Z workers have pointed out the following main needs and concerns: 

  • Work constraints, a lack of flexibility, and a toxic workplace environment are major factors in the high levels of stress and mental health difficulties Gen Z employees experience, all of which can lead to possible burnout. They value having access to resources for developing abilities like mindfulness and resilience, which is why they are interested in alternative mental health therapies.
  • As a result of repeated exposure to economic crises and a strong emphasis on social justice, Gen Z workers are seeking alternative planning and retirement and investment benefits (outside of traditional 401(k) – IN THE US – plans) like emergency savings accounts, financial wellness initiatives, and assistance with tuition, and are more likely to direct retirement savings toward sustainable investments.
  • Gen Z workers are comfortable with and likely to accept digital health tools for healthcare delivery, such as virtual reality and virtual assistants.
  • As Gen Z employees change the dynamic between businesses and their workforce, leaders must be ready to adapt and change their plans.
  • Gen Z is ambitious and seeks opportunities for career development and growth. Providing mentorship programs, continuous learning, and clear pathways for advancement can help attract and retain Gen Z talent.

Integrating Gen Z to the current Multi-Generational workforce.

To better integrate Gen Z workers to the current (multi-generational) workforce, employers should expand their benefit plans to reflect Gen Z’s retirement and financial planning strategies, placing a stronger emphasis on security, stability, and socially responsible investing.

Organizations should also provide modern technology for communication, collaboration, and productivity given that Gen Z is highly skilled in using digital tools.

Leaders must take into account Gen Z employees’ preferences and viewpoints because the value of perks to them may impact their loyalty to businesses.

As Gen Z employees change the dynamic between businesses and their workforce, leaders must be ready to adapt and change their plans. By understanding and addressing the unique characteristics and needs of Gen Z employees, organizations can create an inclusive, engaging, and supportive work environment that attracts and retains top talent from this generation.