Berkeley, CA — In the United States, Gen Z’s presence in the workforce is growing at a rapid pace. Despite being the most educated and diverse generation, they are also regarded as the loneliest. Never taking a break from the noise of the internet, the mental health struggles of Gen Z are unparalleled to those of any other generation — and the negative consequences are becoming hard to ignore at work.
The development of many crucial skills Gen Z needs in the workplace has been stunted as a result of the pandemic. “All the rules they had going to school disappeared and a new set of rules were put in place, and now they don’t know how to engage,” says Kaye Monk-Morgan, who dedicated more than 25 years in a university setting and is head of the Kansas Leadership Center. She remarks that as Gen Z’s new colleagues, it’s our job to help guide them and learn from them along the way, reports FastCompany.
Here are a few things employers can do to help Gen Z gain the often overlooked skills necessary for handling a job.
Offer In-Person Work Experience
While employers assume Gen Z likes to work within the digital realm, that notion couldn’t be farther from the truth. According to Psychology Today, Gen Z values the “human element” more than anything else in the workplace, citing “supportive leadership” and “positive relationships at work” as their top two most important job factors.
After a year of isolation, it’s clear that Gen Z craves human connection. Many lack the people skills often necessary to maintain their jobs, such as holding eye contact or having a conversation. When possible, provide in-person work experiences or internships that allow Gen Z employees to learn real-time problem-solving, teamwork, and interpersonal skills in a traditional office setting.
Exemplify Regular Communication and Feedback
With the rapid growth of technology, it is without a doubt that we are growing to be more independent. It only takes one Google or YouTube search to learn anything in the world. This dependency on technology rather than on each other stifles Gen Z’s ability to advocate for themselves when they need help. Therefore, bosses should offer support through open communication and regular feedback. Through two-way conversations and constructive criticism, it can help Gen Z employees learn that they have to raise their hand in order to succeed in their roles.
Promote Career Development and Goal Setting
Data from a 2022 McKinsey report shows that Gen Z has a higher tendency to move around or work independently compared to their professional predecessors. This pattern comes from a mismatch of their current skills and their desired growth and leadership trajectory. In short: Gen Z just wants to grow! Support them in setting realistic career goals and offer learning opportunities to help them progress. The skills they learn can be irreplaceable in future mentorship and leadership opportunities where they need to guide and support others.
Gen Z’s development of their professional skills and their adjustment to the workplace can take time. Explain workplace etiquette and expectations clearly and be patient as they tackle their learning curve. You’ll build trust and see a newly empowered Gen Z employee grow and thrive.
Knives Nguyen, (he/them/theirs) is a journalist from the Bay Area who covers entertainment and culture. You can connect with them on LinkedIn: @knivesnguyen.
Edited by Nykeya Woods