The Big Question: Hannah Ubl, Good Company Consulting

The Big Question: Hannah Ubl, Good Company Consulting

April 2024   minute read

Compared to previous generations, what's different about Gen Z in the workforce?

But for most people who are Gen Z—people born between 1996 and 2010—they’ve had to grow up so fast. I was talking to someone the other day, she said “I was nine years old when the recession hit and that completely transformed my life. I remember how that affected my parents. I remember the serious conversations in our household.” Gen Z is just so much more practical, I feel like, than generations before. They’ve had to be.

You see people talking about this generation, and how they’re asking for higher wages, or they’re pushing back on the finances, and it’s kind of like, of course they are! They grew up during two recessions and then they lived through the pandemic and saw the kind of financial impact that had.

Gen Z tends to have Gen X parents, who are so different than Baby Boomer parents. Boomer parents tended to be more like, “I want to empower you to shoot for the stars and craft your own way.” And Gen X parents tend more towards, “Do you know how difficult the world is out there?”

With Gen Z, what we’re seeing is, because they are so practical, if you’re a leader for any kind of company, say to them, “I care about you as a person. I’m going to give you some resources to train you. So even if you leave here, you can take the skills you learned at this company and they are transferable somewhere else.” I think Gen Z is drawn to places that invest in them.

Another thing: Gen Z is looking for a psychologically safe environment, and looking for leaders who take time to listen to them and then take action based on what they’re hearing.

One thing that’s important about this group is they want extremely clear, explicit instructions. We worked with a theme park for a couple of years. And people who are making funnel cakes, for example, might say, “You need to tell me exactly steps 1 through 10 of how to make these, but then I need to know all of the extra steps, like when do I change my gloves?” It’s about having truly explicit instructions. Whereas for Millennials, there’s less of a desire for some of that because it takes away the opportunity for them to try it their own way.

Anecdotally, I hear from people that this generation is great in the workplace. We should listen to them. We all do better when we listen to young voices.

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