Gen Z at Work: How to Re-Engage Young Professionals
Work has changed dramatically in recent years, as have employees’ interactions with their company, leaders, and coworkers. Workforce trends that emerged as short-term responses to a changing world have evolved into long-term shifts in where and how people work. Workforce changes have also reshaped what employees value in the workplace. The macro-transformation, combined with the continuous addition of Gen Z employees in the workplace — the most diverse and populous generation in the nation’s history — presents organizations with a challenge regarding employee engagement.
One of the critical shifts was the transition to remote work, which represented a significant change in how we worked. Organizations went online, and employees were told to stay at home. Because of the realized benefits of this way of working, there has been a long-term shift in the workforce, with many companies remaining fully remote or offering hybrid options in the post-pandemic world. While an extra hour of sleep and the ability to work in sweatpants have advantages, this shift has been shown to negatively impact Gen Z’s engagement, satisfaction, and mental health in the long run. According to studies, more than 80% of Gen Z workers feel disconnected from their jobs, and 50% report communication issues and difficulty obtaining the resources they require to thrive at work.
Work-from-home lifestyle deteriorates Gen Z’s mental health, a key satisfaction metric for the generation, due to loneliness and burnout. Organizations must be proactive in keeping Gen Z employees engaged and mentally healthy to avoid negative consequences. This article examines how the workforce shift has impacted Generation Z workers and how organizations can adapt to keep their employees engaged.
Workers in Generation Z are dissatisfied and uninspired.
It isn’t easy to feel connected to colleagues and see the impact of their work in a world where employees interact through a screen. According to Peter Cappelli, a Wharton School of Business professor, young employees who work from home are less engaged, less committed to their organization, and more socially isolated. While studies show that 77% of Gen Z employees prefer a flexible work policy with the option to work from home, they miss the personal connections made in a face-to-face environment and believe they are missing out on career development opportunities by not being physically close to their coworkers and managers. Disconnected and uninspired employees are detrimental to their growth and experience and the organization’s overall culture. Employees who do not feel connected to their work will eventually leave the organization.
Gen Z’s mental health is deteriorating due to loneliness, burnout, and a lack of boundaries between work and home life.
Young professionals are starting their careers on their own in their bedrooms. This way of life blurs the distinction between work and home because when work laptops sit two feet from where a worker sleeps, are they ever not working? Young professionals tend to overwork and burn out faster at home than in the office. When combined with the loneliness of working from home, the mental health of these young professionals is jeopardized. According to research, Gen Z employees are three times more likely than their more experienced counterparts to seek help for mental health issues such as burnout and stress. The work-from-home lifestyle jeopardizes an employee’s mental health, which is critical to success.
How can organizations keep Gen Z employees engaged in their new workplace?
Gen Z is distinct from previous generations in that their work environment is of the utmost importance to them. They are looking for a rewarding, flexible, and engaging company culture under threat from current workforce changes. Organizations must invest in a robust work environment to keep their employees engaged.
- Health and wellness initiatives: According to recent studies, more than 60% of Gen Zs want a company culture that prioritizes mental health and wellness. This generation values the emphasis on physical, mental, and even financial health. Creating a wellness culture is critical to engaging and retaining these employees. Organizations should promote wellness initiatives that encourage work-life balance, provide opportunities for employees to actively participate in giving back to the community, and provide workshops and mentoring that inform and promote financial wellness. Focusing on these initiatives can help retain young professionals while mitigating the effects of the overall work shift.
- Workplace flexibility is necessary to Generation Z, but 7 out of 10 believe that socialization and connecting with others are also important. Getting young people out of their bedrooms and interacting with one another is critical; thus, offering hybrid work schedules is a sustainable solution to the changing work world. The generation values flexibility, so this option is essential.
- Career development and fulfillment: In a work-from-home environment, Gen Z misses out on mentorship and potential career development opportunities. They also place a high value on a rewarding career that gives them a sense of purpose. According to a recent study, more than 42% of Gen Z would work for a company that gives them a sense of purpose rather than one that pays more. Organizations should prioritize individualized career paths that help employees feel valued and progress toward a common goal. This generation is also known for its enthusiasm for lifelong learning. Giving employees opportunities to gain experience, learn new skills, and receive continuous feedback is a fruitful way to engage employees and improve business results.
Workplace changes will continue as society moves beyond the pandemic. It is up to the organization to keep its Gen Z employees engaged by adapting to these changes and creating a constantly evolving and employee-focused workplace.
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