Workplace training

8 minute read

Gen Z Employee Retention: What Managers Need to Know

Sam Szuchan

Sam Szuchan

Over the last few years, employees worldwide have witnessed a huge transformation in the workplace. Seemingly out of nowhere, professionals have found new attitudes and approaches to work.

The impact of this macro-cultural shift has been massive. It’s contributed in small ways—like better benefits—and in substantial ways—like the Great Resignation and the rise of remote work.

Yet one demographic has led the charge in this rethinking of work more than any other: Generation Z. They think differently, bringing creativity and digital prowess into the office tempered by a relaxed attitude on work.

They’re not afraid to leave a job they don’t like. And as their share of the workplace grows, it becomes increasingly important for managers to learn how to retain their talent.

Understanding Gen Z’s Work Attitude

Gen Z workers are driven, contrary to stereotypes of laziness. One survey found 76% take full responsibility for their career, and 58% are willing to work overtime for extra pay.

Speaking of compensation, 70% consider salary their top priority. However, the same amount describes health insurance as equally essential.

 

 

But money and benefits aren’t the only things driving them. 74% rank purpose as more important than their paycheck, compared to 66% of Gen X professionals.

Managers recruiting Gen Z employees can expect hard workers if they feel their salary and benefits are worth it. They’ll quickly find the exit otherwise, with 27% saying they’ll likely find a new job in 2022.

How to Retain Gen Z Employees

Gen Z is a creative and talented generation with much to offer your brand. That said, their high standards mean it will take some doing to keep them around.

Here’s how to keep them on board:

1. Embrace Digitalization

Gen Z grew up surrounded by technology.

Modern tools come as naturally to them as drawing air, making them irreplaceable aspects of their work environment. As a result, tech-driven work cultures will naturally attract them.

Automate tedious tasks and keep technology up-to-date. Don’t cheap out on company equipment, either—Amazon’s unwillingness to buy workers MacBooks and second monitors has led to unprecedented attrition within their tech staff.

2. Promote Flexibility

Especially in the wake of remote work’s rise, younger workers crave flexibility. Likewise, Gen Z wants a work culture that trusts them to complete tasks on time in any way they see fit.

This doesn’t mean only allowing work from home (WFH) but avoiding micromanagement altogether. As long as your workers have a healthy output, there’s no reason to babysit them.

Other ways of promoting flexibility include:

  • Hybrid-working. Hybrid work involves employees working some days from home and others at the office, depending on circumstances. This lets workers experience some of the flexibility of WFH even if their company isn’t fully prepared to transition.
  • Flextime. This allows employees to work unconventional hours as long as they meet their obligations. Flextime gives Gen Z the independence they crave while still maintaining a clear expectation of working hours.

3. Foster Curiosity & Entrepreneurship

Gen Z dislikes relying on one income source. The Great Recession gave them a front-row seat to the perils of job security and instilled a deep desire for financial freedom—mostly through entrepreneurship.

With that in mind, it’s unrealistic to expect Gen Z workers to focus on their job and nothing else. Pressuring them to focus solely on your work will create resentment and encourage them to find a more open-minded workplace.

So instead, foster self-enterprise wherever possible.

Emphasize that your workplace allows side hustles and independent work as long as it doesn't interfere with their main responsibilities. Even offer coaching from managers if time permits.

4. Define a Clear Company Purpose

As mentioned above, 74% of Gen Z workers place more importance on purpose than income. Much of their motivation comes from seeing tangible value in their work.

With this in mind, your company should constantly emphasize purpose. Have a clearly defined company purpose outlining the value your firm offers to the world, and emphasize it everywhere.

From recruitment to team-building exercises and everything in between, workers should get constant reminders of what they’re building together. Purpose is never cliche—it’s what moves Gen Z to get out of bed in the morning.

5. Embrace Differences & Diversity of Thought

In more ways than one, Gen Z is diverse. They represent a variety of backgrounds brought together under the common cause of meaningful work.

While they’re not afraid to work with different people, they’re not afraid of honest conversations about their cultural experiences either. 69% of Gen Z workers have discussed social or political issues at work.

 

 

Sadly, not all workplaces welcome those discussions. Half of Gen Z employees report a negative experience after discussing social issues in the workplace.

Your workplace should clearly show its acceptance of different views and cultural differences. Not only will Gen Z feel more comfortable, but it will also foster productive collaboration.

6. Make Workers Feel Cared For

Gen Z rejects the idea that work should be a sterile, cutthroat environment where managers see workers as nothing more than a means of production. They seek workplaces where their managers and coworkers genuinely care about their well-being.

This goes beyond superficial “we’re a family” rhetoric and involves tangible investments into their lives.

No single policy creates that sense of compassion. Work-life balance, PTO, flexibility, stock options, and other worker-friendly policies collectively form the “they care about me” ethos Gen Z craves.

If your workers feel cared for, your retention rates will reflect that—guaranteed.

7. Promote Work/Life Balance

53% of Gen Z workers said their days have no clear start or finish time due to the effects of remote work. Another 42% said those changes led them to think about their jobs more outside of working hours.

Remote work has brought more flexibility, but it’s also blurred the lines between work and non-working hours—something Gen-Z is especially aware of.

They’re avoiding employers who pressure them to work outside of office hours (intentionally or not) in favor of those emphasizing work/life balance.

Your company can start prioritizing work/life balance by:

  • Establishing strict work hours
  • Making it clear that after-hours communication is not necessary
  • Clearly defining what an after-hours emergency is
  • Intervening when managers overwork their employees
  • Encouraging workers to take paid time off (PTO)

No single policy creates a culture of work/life harmony. It results from an ongoing, intentional effort by every level of leadership.

8. Invest in Career Development

Gen Z wants employers who actively invest in their career growth. Driving their development shows your firm cares about their future, inspiring loyalty to your company.
Investing in their soft skills is the most productive way of driving their growth. Soft skills are universally valuable, regardless of your organization's sector.

GoSkills offers ten different soft skills courses, all rated five stars by real learners. You can buy unlimited access for your entire team with one of our team pricing plans.

Retaining Gen Z Takes Work, but It’s Worth It

Gen Z grew up during rapid digitalization and a global recession. They’re the children of great change, which instilled in them a unique outlook on both life and work.


They bring creativity, abstract thinking, and discipline to the workplace but ask for fair treatment in return. This doesn’t mean token PTO or insurance benefits but an environment of compassion, inclusivity, and creativity.

In return, you’ll get a generation of workers ready to solve problems head-on with out-of-the-box thinking. Embrace Gen Z, and your organization will be prepared for the future of work.

 

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Sam Szuchan

Sam Szuchan

Sam Szuchan is a B2B SaaS Writer and Founder of SamSzu.com. He loves learning, writing, and cooking in his Ninja Foodi.