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Gen Z and Being at Work…Better than Before

How is the pandemic impacting the workforce for Gen Z as they're moving into it?

Ryan Jenkins, a keynote speaker on Gen Z, explains how Millennials and Gen Z are creating unprecedented change in the workplace. He emphasizes to leaders that it is a competitive advantage for an enterprise to have the diversity of thought and recruit younger generations onto the team.

The Glory Acapella Group

The Glory Acapella Group

From jazz ensembles to acapella groups, the sound of harmony delights us and attracts our rapt attention. Why?

Bringing four parts together and creating harmony is dynamic tension. As the musicians dance on a discordant note and lean into the clarity of pure harmony, we are at the edge of expectancy, waiting to experience satisfying resolution. This experience has a name in music-


Being on the edge of a displaced note without resolution ever occurring, might cause anxiety or agitation. And…It happens every day in the workplace. Associates are coming together from different perspectives, varying KPIs, and now from up to five different generations. The discordance is causing a climate that does not promote psychological safety. This uncertainty and complexity are being amplified with Gen Z entering the workforce in greater numbers. They are facing huge competition for sought-after jobs, interviewing primarily through Zoom or pre-recorded videos and even higher scrutiny upon any social media pages according to the Wall Street Journal.

Despite the pundits and press, harmony is a quality that is showing up in the research on Gen Z. They want harmony and look for it as a critical quality in the choices they will make in where to work and how to work-- how can leaders, some of them your coaching clients, make it happen?

People and workplaces are ever-evolving. This generation was born with the smartphone already in existence, methods of acquiring information, entertainment, music, goods, and services very different than previous generations, and communication are unique and creative. Ryan Jenkins, a keynote speaker on Gen Z, explains how Millennials and Gen Z are creating unprecedented change in the workplace. He emphasizes to leaders that it is a competitive advantage for an enterprise to have the diversity of thought and recruit younger generations onto the team.

Recruiting is the beginning. How to support onboarding, the quest for learning, and a need for teaming are essential.

Here are three steps to get started on the journey:

Step #1: Create Extended Onboarding Programs.

Gen Z got interrupted with Covid and online learning may not have been as complete an experience for some as classroom interactions. Most did not experience the first job as a junior or senior in high school. Your enterprise client has unique requirements, coaches. It’s time to up the game on training and goes beyond the minimal onboarding for assimilation and strategize on a more long-term plan.

Look to expand the onboarding process as a yearlong program complete with mentorship, sequential, cross-functional training, and rewarded testing each step of the way to ensure comprehension and celebrate competence.

An important component of teaming is civility. It is important that managers learn the benefits of strengthened intergenerational relationships, dispel negative perceptions that weaken engagement, and provide the needed time and resources without comparison to the status quo or doubling down on “we’ve always done it this way”. One way to accomplish such buy-in is by including reverse mentoring programs where young employees help senior workers improve their skills in technology and social media. It’s a win/win for both and strengthens teams.

Step #2: Develop a New and Vital Mental Health Action Plan.

Stress and overwhelm were already in struggle mode prior to the pandemic for all generations. Gen Z is the most tech-savvy, globally-connected, entertained, marketed to, media overloaded generation that’s ever populated the earth. The side effect of this level of simultaneity is heightened overwhelm and stress. According to a recent poll, the anxiety levels of Gen Z are higher than ever recorded. Perks such as mindfulness practitioners, console apps for swift consultation with timely videos, meditation rooms, and mental health days are no longer “a nice to have”—they are “must-haves” to support the youngest members of your team. The irony, of course, is that this challenge has been a deficit in the workplace for decades with stress costing businesses over $500B dollars a year in absenteeism, sick days, loss of productivity, apathy, and diminished customer service.

The perk that has my undivided attention and support is the recommendation from Harvard Business Review,

HBR quote

Coaching boosts an individual’s confidence in their ability to succeed and reduces associated anxiety arising from negative self-talk, perfectionism, comparisons and more. Encourage your client/leaders to make this a company-wide investment in their future. Share articles and research to support their learning and awareness. The ROI is proven with coaching cultures outperforming non-coaching cultures by a margin of two times+(2018 ICF and HCI research)

Step #3: Invest in Enterprise-wide Coaching.

Gen Z may not have developed EQ as keenly as what the workplace may demand or in the manner of how the enterprise they’ve entered works. Their ability to discover what motivates and fulfills them may still be in limbo, especially as it relates to being inside of a business. Their ”Why” to work, how, and where, maybe unknown for a time.

The range of programs to support emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness and at inviteCHANGE, we use the Tilt 365 science of character inventories. The coaching that accompanies this exploration provides a judgment-free zone for self-discovery. Michael Phelps during the Olympics shared in an interview what athletes need is “someone we can trust, who will let us be ourselves and listen, allow us to become vulnerable, someone who’s not going to try and fix us.” This is coaching. For inviteCHANGE graduates, customers, and prospective customers, this is Generative Coaching.

Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Traditionalists all benefit from coaching. The enterprise that invests in their people through coaching will see heightened engagement and productivity, satisfaction by associates and customers, and increased profits, opening the door to greater philanthropy and community involvement.

Office group

This newest generation has been creative to uncover new ways of connecting, sharing thoughts, joy and angst, music and art, and have independence borne of the ease of technology. They reach out on their timetable to gain advice on “adulting” and count on their elders to be available, sometimes at inconvenient moments. They stretch us and our norms, challenge our habitual boundaries and reveal our biases (Gender identity, Racial Mindset, Capitalism, and much more).

By being tested early, they’re bringing a unique experience of courage, resiliency, and desire for change to the workplace. Structured support in the form of training, individual and team coaching plus ongoing, sequential leadership programs will set the stage for a harmonious workplace where collaboration, agility, inspiration, breakthroughs, and risk-taking are the order of the day.

Gen Z’s presence and life experience challenge us as leaders to forge a new path by leaning in, the appoggiatura, supporting the collective resolution for being at work in harmony…perhaps better than we’ve ever been.

Sarah Graves, PCC

Sarah passionately and practically pursues the development of leaders through intentional, organic growth. She emboldens leaders to create an environment where management is expansive, willing to move with agility beyond comfort zones, and to champion the individual and collective genius within the organization. With teams in transition she inspires connection, realignment and forward progress within the awkward movements of the changing landscape. Her belief is that coaching is as essential an element for an organization as the product or service the company produces. “An employee who grows personally, grows professionally” and coaching seeds growth.
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