An Introduction To Gen Z

Now is the time to prepare for a future with Gen Z employees, and as a bonus you’ll likely increase your retention of Millennials as well.

What Are Gen Zs Like?

Gen Zs (also called Homelanders, iGen, Gen Edge), are born between 1995 and 2012; the oldest are 22 years old. While there are only a small percentage in the employment market now, there are many that are in college and university… getting ready for and wanting to be your newest and brightest stars. Gen Zs are a population about the same size as Millennials and within a few years Gen Zs and Millennials will be the dominate energy in the workforce.Millennials At Work Enjoy Learning

In many ways, Gen Z’s are like uber-Millennials.

Millennial children have been told by their Boomer parents they are special, to be confident and they should not settle. Gen Zs have been told much the same thing from their Gen X parents. Ironically, when at work Boomer and Gen X bosses label this confidence narcissistic and entitled.

Gen Z Are Conservative

Gen Zs are conservative like their great-grandparents – the Silent Generation. How can that be? Consider, Gen Zs have grown up in a post 9/11 environment. They have always known global conflict, global terrorism and have lived through 3 recessions. Gen Zs have also seen their Gen X parents being laid off, right-sized and down-sized.

On the home front, Gen Zs also grew up with bike helmets, parents who say, “Call when you get there”, personal GPS, smart-phones, bottled water, side-impact baby carriages, rubber baby spoons vs. metal, non-spillable sippy cups, seat belts, etc.

Translation; their world has always been full of potential risk that they have had to watch out for. These and many other social and economic environments, have molded Gen Zs to be more conservative and take fewer risks than their Millennial brothers and sisters.

Gen Z Don’t See Technology As A Perk

If your organization is using hardware or software that is 2, 3 or more years out of date, Gen Zs will see that as a red flag.

Technology is not a bonus for them – it is an expected investment into their own personal future as well as that of the organization. Consider, Gen Zs’ parents did their best to give their children the latest hardware and software. Their Universities and Colleges also had the latest technology.

If Gen Zs feel they are falling behind their friends / peers in experience or knowledge, their employer will have a retention problem as these highly mobile employees job-hop. So, is it better to invest in the latest hardware and software, or spend money hiring and training new employees over and over again… and keep your out of date technology?

Working Hours / Working Spaces

Gen Zs have always been plugged in – doing homework and connecting with friends around the world. They are tech savvy and see flexibility as efficient. They want to work when they have an idea vs. when they are in the office at their assigned desk. Some autonomy and workplace flexibility will be important to them.

The flexibility that Gen Zs prefer is a BONUS for organizations embracing open-concept and flexible work spaces. It is being proven that flexible, open-concept work spaces spawn creativity and sometimes unexpected, organic cross-functional teams.


Gen Zs believe they are good multi-taskers, and yet researchers like Daniel Kahneman who referenced in his book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ have proven very few people are good multitaskers when it comes to doing strategic, complicated and/or unfamiliar tasks.

But, are Gen Zs good at uncomplicated and/or familiar activities? Sure – in fact they may be better at this than any other generation. They have spent their lives being stimulated and entertained. They have listened to music, played video games, watched TV (online), texted friends, attempted homework and chatted on SnapChat all at once.

Gen Zs seem to be very good at blocking out familiar, low-priority distractions (or white noise / grey noise). They may even miss the noise if it’s not there. As a leader this is important to know because we may have to help them learn how to manage distractions. For example, we might agree that headphones are accepted while they do research – but insist that when writing the final report that they put aside their distractions… including the ding-ding-ding of incoming email messages.

How To Motivate Gen Zs

Motivation is a challenge I often hear from Leaders.

There is potential for great motivation. One of the best approaches I can recommend is to trust Gen Zs. When you trust Gen Zs (and Millennials), to work with you to find their ‘best working environment’ they will not want to break your trust. It’s about understanding what commitments you / they want to focus on and then how to organize those commitments.

The other way to motivate Gen Zs is to make sure they see their work as creative, important, exciting and / or an opportunity to develop new skills. Workspace flexibility and/or positive reinforcement will also go a long – long way in building trust and motivating Gen Zs.

It’s important to note that plugged-in Gen Z and Millennials are easily bored and most begin to feel uncomfortable when they are bored. The challenge for most Leaders is to help their Gen Zs learn that it’s OK and be bored and to embrace this time to explore their ideas… feelings… their creativity… or to simply take a mental-rest. Boredom can be a great thing.

Keep Gen Z Accountable

Accountability may mean having a difficult conversation with them to let them know when they let you and the team down. When you do this you will help them build respect for you, the organization and themselves. They will see that their work is important and that they matter… which is a huge motivator for them.

  1. Be clear with your professional project expectations & timelines.
  2. Be clear with your quality expectations.
  3. Be clear about workplace policies – flexibility for example.
  4. Hold employees accountable for their work and quality.
  5. Provide specific, timely feedback… both positive and constructive. Note: Don’t skimp on your positive reinforcement.
  6. Do not linger on past challenges where they may have let you / the team down… but, be sure you follow point 4.


The future is coming – quickly and employers must rethink how work gets done… and how people get motivated, rewarded, engaged, committed and trusting.

Any leader and/or organization that is concerned with their team members’ will be able to find ways to inspire loyally and build resiliance. In contrast, the leader and/or organization that shows concerns for only their success will lose the creativity, commitment and loyalty of their most valuable assets – their employees.

Happy communicating… mentoring… and collaborating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

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