Organizational Wellness

How to Manage and Support Generation Z at Work

Apr 13, 2023
Last Updated May 17, 2024

What’s ambitious, nostalgic, and travels perpetually? Hint: it’s not Taylor Swift in her Eras Tour era, where she’s said to be performing up to 44 songs a night from every single one of her albums.

It’s Generation Z! According to data from GWI, this age group:

  • is 29% more likely than other generations to call themselves ambitious and driven by money.
  • is prioritizing travel, with a 23% increase in travel tickets purchased from 2021 to 2022.
  • is 19% more likely than previous generations to say they’d rather think about the past than the future.

It’s clear that Gen Zers have slightly different concerns, life plans, and even workplace expectations than their older counterparts. Born between 1997 and 2012, they make up a sizable portion of today’s multi-generational workforce. If you want to be successful at managing Generation Z, you’ll have to take some time to get to know them, what motivates them, and what they value most in a company. Let’s get started.

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Understanding Their Motivations and Values

Gen Zers are highly motivated by purpose, social good, ethical practices, and innovation. Fifty percent of Gen Z workers say that purposeful work is a “must-have” whenever they’re thinking about taking a new role, according to MetLife. And McKinsey research shows they’re driven by ethics and shared causes, but that they also value individual expression and identity. In their roles at work, they’re likely looking for the opportunity to make a bigger impact and to connect with people who share similar interests and passions.

Look for opportunities you can give Gen Z workers to express themselves through creative and meaningful projects, and to promote a shared sense of belonging. Affinity groups or employee activities can help foster a culture of openness and connection that speaks to Gen Z’s values.

Flexible Work Arrangements Are Popular

Gen Zers prioritize flexibility, both in terms of schedule and location: About 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed by ADP said they would think about looking for another job if they had to go back into the office full-time. Providing employees with options like working from home or flexible hours can give Gen Zers the sense of freedom and flexibility they crave without sacrificing the company’s productivity.

Supporting Their Financial Goals With Benefits

We know that Generation Z is ambitious and works hard for their money. Some members of this generation are already polyworking — working two or more jobs — in pursuit of financial stability. A total rewards package with traditional benefits, like healthcare, and innovative benefits, like student loan repayment assistance, can help them achieve financial wellbeing. These are all great ways to show your Gen Z employees that you care about their future and want them to succeed.

Work-Life Wellness Boundaries Are Prized

Generation Z is not the first generation to recognize when work cuts into happy and healthy living — but they are pushing back in the workplace and setting boundaries en masse. They value time off, family time, and self-care over the daily grind. Supporting breaks, respecting their weekends and holidays, and not encouraging offline hours will help set these working relationships up for success.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging is a Priority

This generation is acutely aware of the disparities that exist between marginalized and privileged social groups. In order to retain Gen Z employees, employers should commit to creating a workplace where all workers feel safe, respected, and included.

Taking meaningful steps to diversify representation will go a long way: 53% of Gen Zers want to see more diversity at the senior leadership level. Employers can also invest in DEI initiatives, such as unconscious bias training and diversity task forces, to help everyone be heard and valued.

Reducing Anxiety and Stress a Common Need

About three in 10 members of Generation Z say that they’re prone to anxiety, according to GWI’s data. Employers can help their Gen Z team members by supporting healthy stress management and anxiety reduction, and offering resources and education around these topics. This could include offering mental health services, mindfulness initiatives like yoga or meditation classes, and even providing stipends for therapy sessions.

Fostering a Sense of Community and Collaboration

Gen Zers like to feel connected and want to be part of something bigger than themselves — but many of them feel cut off anyway. Seventy-three percent of workers in the 18- to 22-year-old cohort report sometimes or constantly feeling lonely, according to Cigna’s U.S. Loneliness Index.

To inspire connection, companies can focus on encouraging more collaboration and feedback between employees, even in a remote or hybrid setup. Make time for team-building activities and social hours, and you can also set up more formal opportunities, like mentorships with more experienced employees.

Opportunities to Upskill Are Enticing

Although Gen Zers are keen learners, many say they don’t have the opportunities they desire to flex their skills and develop in their careers. Only 53% of Gen Z workers are satisfied with the availability of training and upskilling opportunities at their companies, according to MetLife — the lowest of any generation.

Employers can invest in formal and informal learning opportunities for Gen Zers to build their abilities. Consider setting up a budget for professional development and career growth, identifying new projects for them to take on, or facilitating job shadowing other workers to learn about future roles and openings.

Support Gen Z Workers With Improved Wellness Benefits

One thing is clear about Gen Zers: they’re looking to enjoy their lives away from the office, and they’re constantly striving for true work-life wellness. Companies that can support those goals will also win over this talented, ambitious generation.

So what does that look like in practice? There are all different ways you can craft your benefits package, and perks like unlimited or flexible time off aren’t the only solution. You can support Gen Z — and the rest of your workers — on their personal journeys by offering access to fitness memberships, providing additional mental health support, or implementing a flexible work schedule.

As detailed in our State of Work-Life Wellness Report, 93% of all employees feel that their wellbeing at work is just as important as their salary. A comprehensive employee wellbeing program can help you promote physical, mental, and emotional health and ensure that your workers are taken care of.

Speak to one of our Wellbeing Specialists to learn about how to craft a wellness plan that all of your employees will love — Gen Z and beyond!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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