3 Steps to Leading and Welcoming Gen Z in the Workforce
Understanding what Gen Z appreciates and how they operate grows more and more relevant as they populate the workforce. Already they represent more than a quarter of the workforce — a proportion that is rapidly growing. How well you know and honor the newest generation of workers will drive changes in your ability to recruit and retain staff and volunteers, and even affect where your money goes.
Here are the essentials of what you’ll need to know to create a culture that welcomes Gen Z for all the strengths they bring into the workplace.
1. Be bold enough to entrust them with important work
Some of you need to hear this especially — your volunteers and interns are capable of heavy lifting. They don’t want your busy work.
For many Gen Z workers, especially in ministry, money is not enough of a motivator to do their job well. They want to work with admirable purpose. When your Gen Z workers believe in the purpose, they will work until the need is met, not just until the job is done (and unfortunately, there is a difference!).
Ministry is by nature a relational and hands-on experience to serve in. The further you remove the people from the field, the greater explanation they may need to see the purpose in their work.
And no, they don’t want busy work, but sometimes tedious tasks are necessary for your ministry. So when it comes to assigning work that appears meaningless, communicate the importance of it within the mission and progress of the ministry, and show your staff how doing even menial tasks well supports the ministry. When you train, assign tasks, and create job descriptions, it is your responsibility to pass on the knowledge of the “why.” If in the process you learn there is no “why,” consider cutting the task to allow for more meaningful work.
2. Build relationships with them
Part of Gen Z’s desire to do important work is that they want to be part of something great. They want to be known and important within the big picture. Be careful not to lose sight of the people behind the day-to-day work. Your Gen Z staff will be propelled into action by your attentiveness to and appreciation for them at an individual level.
Ways to pursue this beyond knowing their names and faces include one-on-one meetings and conversations, handwritten notes of encouragement, and thoughtful gestures that show them you remember their interests (like surprising them with their coffee order on a difficult day). Gen Z is leaving behind jobs that don’t notice their workers. If you want to retain your youngest hires, show them that you see and value them! Your relationships will further motivate your Gen Z workers and volunteers to continually contribute meaningful work.
3. Be open to new ideas
Simply having these conversations is not enough. You’ll need to push yourself to not only show interest in your Gen Z staff’s lives but to value their input and suggestions. They will not feel important or valued as long as their voice is ignored! Open your mind with discernment and care. It’s ok not to take every idea, but you’ll need to thoroughly consider why you accept or deny the ideas people present to you.
As a generation that values receptiveness to new ideas more than any other generation, Gen Z wants to see that your open mind and flexibility run deep. One clear way Gen Z will notice this in your staff culture is how you value diverse perspectives. Your Gen Z staff may be the ones who challenge you to rethink the way you do things, to consider perspectives you have neglected, and to self-evaluate your values. While this challenge may be uncomfortable, Gen Z may help your staff grow this way! If you’re looking for extra help to improve your culture’s value for diversity, consider our Diversity Consulting service to you, or our free Diversity Readiness Tool to evaluate your staff.
How well you know and support your staff and volunteers all comes down to your culture. You can evaluate your staff culture with our Culture Tool resource. We identify your strengths and weaknesses through an in-depth evaluation, and we present it to you within the context of the needs of the changing workplace to give you specific feedback on how to grow as a staff.