Build a Workplace Gen Z Will Love: 13 Ways to Create a Culture of Engagement & Growth
May 28, 2024
min read

Build a Workplace Gen Z Will Love: 13 Ways to Create a Culture of Engagement & Growth

Eli McGarvie
Eli McGarvie

Ever feel like you're speaking a different language than your Gen Z employees?

Tech leaders these days are all experiencing the same thing. The latest generation has entered the workforce, and while it's brought about new innovations and creativity (the first generation to live with tech in their lives since birth, crazy, right?), it's come with a fair share of challenges.

For example (source):

  • 77% of Gen Z rate it important to have a workplace that highlights diversity, inclusion, and equity.
  • 76% want to work with friendly, socially conscious people
  • 31% of pros find the pressures and stress of work difficult to deal with, while 82% find it important to have mental health days
  • 54% of Gen Z quit if pay wasn't enough, 42% if they had burnout and felt they had no work-life balance, and 30% if there were no remote work opportunities.

Basically, there's a lot of data showcasing that Gen Z has particular needs, and if they're not met, they will go elsewhere, costing companies a TON of resources in hiring processes and training.

However, this new generation isn't just about ping-pong tables and free snacks (though those don't hurt!). They crave a culture where they feel heard, valued, and empowered to grow.

That's where this guide comes in. I'm sharing 13 battle-tested strategies I've used to create workplaces where Gen Zers actually thrive. Whether you're a startup founder or a seasoned CEO, these tips will help you transform your company into a magnet for top Gen Z talent.

Let's get into it.

Decoding the Gen Z Mindset: What Makes Them Tick?

A Gen Z girl sits in a tree posing with sunglasses on

Alright, let's talk Gen Z. These aren't your older sibling's millennials. 

We're talking about a generation that grew up with smartphones practically glued to their hands, YouTube tutorials as their teachers, and social media as their town square. 

So, what does this mean for you?

Digital Natives

Forget about lengthy onboarding manuals – Gen Zers will figure out your software in a flash. They're not just tech users; they're tech innovators. They expect you to be on the cutting edge, not just using the latest tools but maybe even creating them.

Purpose-Driven Professionals

"What's in it for me?" isn't their only question. They want to know: "What's in it for the world?" They're looking for jobs that align with their values and make a real impact.

Growth Mindset

Gen Zers aren't content to sit still. They're hungry for knowledge, eager to climb the ladder, and always looking for the next challenge. This means you need to offer:

  • Clear career paths: Show them the steps to success.
  • Continuous learning opportunities: Think workshops, mentorship programs, and even budget for online courses.
  • A culture that rewards initiative: Give them the space to experiment, fail, and ultimately, learn.

If you can prove that your company is all about innovation, purpose, and growth, you'll be speaking Gen Z's language. And trust me, they'll be eager to listen.

How to Make Your Company Irresistible: Branding and Recruitment That Speaks Gen Z

A couple of Gen Z friends sit outside laughing and smiling

Let's be real: your company's reputation isn't just about what you say; it's about what people hear – especially on the digital grapevine. 

Gen Z is all about authenticity, social responsibility, and a company culture that vibes with their values. So, how do you make your brand stand out in the crowded job market?

#1 - It's All About the Vibe

Think of your employer brand as a personality. Is it fun? Innovative? Impactful? Whatever it is, it needs to shine through in your messaging. Share your company's values and mission clearly, and don't be afraid to show off your employee success stories.

I heard a story recently of a company that featured a junior developer who'd created a groundbreaking new feature in an app. The company put her in the spotlight on social media, highlighting her journey and the impact she made. 

The post went viral, and they saw a huge surge in applications from other talented young developers.

#2 - Get Social (Media)

Gen Z lives and breathes social media. They're not just on LinkedIn; they're scrolling through Instagram, tweeting their thoughts, and even dancing their way through TikTok. Use these platforms to your advantage:

  • Show, don't tell: Share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your office life, team outings, and even those spontaneous after-work gatherings.
  • Use the right tools: Stories, reels, and live sessions are your friends. They let you create engaging content that feels authentic and relatable.
  • Employee takeovers: Encourage your Gen Z employees to share their experiences. Their peers will trust their perspective more than any polished marketing campaign.

By weaving your company values, employee stories, and a healthy dose of social media savvy into your employer brand, you'll create a narrative that Gen Z can't ignore.

A Gen Z remote worker sits outside on some steps smiling

#3 - Ditch the 9-to-5 Grind: Why Flexibility is Non-Negotiable for Gen Z

Let's be honest, the traditional 9-to-5 office gig is about as appealing to Gen Z as dial-up internet. They crave flexibility – the freedom to work when and where they're most productive. And guess what? 

Embracing this can be a win-win for everyone. Here's why:

  • Happy Campers = Productive Campers: When people have control over their schedules, they're less likely to burn out. They can fit work around their lives, not the other way around. This leads to a happier, more motivated workforce.
  • Talent Magnet: Want the best and brightest Gen Zers beating down your door? Offer them the flexibility they crave. It's a major selling point that sets you apart from the competition.
  • Loyalty Boost: When you trust your employees to manage their own time, you're showing them that you value their autonomy and well-being. This fosters a sense of loyalty and commitment that's hard to beat.

Remember, flexibility isn't just about remote work. 

It's about giving your team the freedom to create a work-life balance that works for them. Whether it's flexible hours, the option to work from home a few days a week, or even unlimited PTO, find what works for your company and watch your Gen Z employees thrive.

#4 - Tech It Up a Notch: The Tools Gen Z Expects (and Secretly Loves)

Let's face it, Gen Z has higher standards for technology than most of us. 

They expect seamless, intuitive tools that make their work lives easier, not harder. If your company's tech is stuck in the Stone Age, you won't attract the Flintstones, let alone Gen Z.

  • State-of-the-Art Gear: Don't skimp on the hardware. A fast, reliable laptop and a comfortable workspace are the bare minimum. If you can splurge on extra monitors or ergonomic accessories, that would be even better.
  • Mobile-First Everything: Gen Z is glued to their phones. Make sure your communication tools, project management platforms, and even your company intranet are optimised for mobile.
  • Collaboration Central: Whether your team is in-office or remote, seamless collaboration is key. Invest in tools like Slack, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams to keep everyone connected and productive.
  • AI-Powered Productivity: Don't be afraid to experiment with AI tools to streamline tasks, automate repetitive processes, and free up your team's time for more creative and strategic work.

Remember, technology isn't just about efficiency; it's about empowerment. By providing your Gen Z workforce with the tools they need to succeed, you're showing them that you value their time, skills, and contributions.

And that's the kind of message that resonates with this tech-savvy generation.

A Gen Z girl sits smiling in an office while holding a tablet

#5 - Why Gen Z Craves Career Growth (and How to Deliver)

Ever heard the saying, "What's next?" If you work with Gen Z, you probably hear it a lot. 

These folks are ambitious, eager to learn, and always looking for ways to level up their skills. And that's music to your ears because a team that's constantly growing is a team that's pushing your company forward.

It's time to fuel their fire. For example, you could implement a professional development budget for every team member. They could use it for conferences, online courses, or even just a few books on a topic they were passionate about. 

Not only will your team's skills skyrocket, but their enthusiasm and engagement will go through the roof.

  • Skills on Tap: Offer a variety of training options. Think workshops, online courses, lunch-and-learns, and even job shadowing opportunities. Give them the chance to try new things and explore different career paths.
  • Roadmap to Success: Don't leave their career journey up to chance. Create clear pathways for advancement within your company. Show them the steps they need to take to reach their goals and offer guidance and support along the way.
  • Feedback Loop: Gen Zers crave feedback. Regular check-ins, performance reviews, and mentorship programs can help them identify their strengths, work on their weaknesses, and stay on track for success.

When you prioritise professional development, you're not just investing in your employees; you're investing in your company's future. 

Gen Zers want to know they're not just cogs in a machine, but valued members of a team that's committed to their growth. By creating a culture of learning and advancement, you'll attract and retain the brightest minds in the game.

#6 - Collaboration Nation: Build a Team Where Everyone Feels Like They Belong

Picture a workplace where everyone's voice is heard, every idea is valued, and collaboration isn't just a buzzword; it's the norm. That's the kind of environment Gen Zers are craving.

Put it this way - remember that time you were stuck on a problem, then a random conversation with a colleague sparked a breakthrough? That's the magic of collaboration. 

And for Gen Z, it's not just about getting work done – it's about belonging to a community where everyone works towards a shared goal.

  • Embrace Diversity: A mix of perspectives leads to better ideas and solutions. Hire people from different backgrounds, experiences, and walks of life.
  • Open the Floor: Encourage open communication and active listening. Make sure everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions, even if they disagree with the group.
  • Create Opportunities: Schedule regular team-building activities, brainstorming sessions, and even social events. These can help break down barriers and build stronger relationships between team members.
  • Celebrate Wins: When your team achieves a goal, big or small, take the time to celebrate together. This reinforces the idea that you're all in it together and builds a sense of shared accomplishment.

By fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment, you're not just creating a happier workplace; you're creating a more innovative, creative, and successful one. And that's something Gen Z can definitely get behind.

#7 - Secrets? We Don't Do That Here: The Power of Open Communication

Let's be honest; nobody likes being kept in the dark. Gen Z especially values transparency and open communication in the workplace. They want to know what's happening, why it's happening, and how it affects them. 

And honestly? They deserve it.

  • Tell it Like it Is: Don't sugarcoat the truth. Be honest about company goals, challenges, and even setbacks. Gen Zers appreciate authenticity and will respect you more for being upfront.
  • Open Door Policy: Make yourself available to your team. Encourage them to ask questions, share concerns, and offer feedback. Let them know you're there to listen and support them.
  • Own Your Mistakes: We all mess up sometimes. When things go wrong, don't try to sweep it under the rug. Acknowledge the mistake, take responsibility, and explain how you'll fix it. This shows that you're human and committed to continuous improvement.

Remember, transparency isn't just about sharing information; it's about building trust. When your Gen Z employees trust that you're being honest and open with them, they'll be likelier to trust you with their best work.

#8 - Who's a Good Employee? Show Them the Love with Meaningful Recognition

Let's be honest; who doesn't love a pat on the back? For Gen Z, recognition isn't just about a gold star or a bonus; it's about feeling seen and valued for their contributions. And when you give them that, their loyalty and engagement skyrocket.

Gen Z might not be as into handwritten notes (though some might be!), but they still crave that personalised touch. Here's how to make recognition truly meaningful:

  • Tailor the Treats: Get to know your team members and find out what makes them tick. Some might love public praise, while others might prefer a quiet conversation or a personalised gift.
  • Digital High-Fives: Gen Z lives online, so why not recognize them where they hang out? Use your company's social media channels to shout out their achievements or create a digital "wall of fame" to showcase their work.
  • Feedback is a Gift: Don't save feedback for performance reviews. Offer regular, constructive feedback so Gen Zers can see how they're progressing and where they can improve.
A close up of someone taking two Euro notes out of their wallet

#9 - Beyond the Paycheck: Help Gen Z See the "Why" Behind Their Work

Ever feel like you're just going through the motions at work? Gen Z is terrified of that feeling. They don't just want a job; they want a mission. They want to know that their work matters, that it's making a real difference in the world.

Think back to a time when you felt truly inspired by your work. Maybe you helped a customer solve a significant problem, or you contributed to a project that made a positive impact on your community. That feeling of purpose is what Gen Z craves.

Here's how you can help them find it:

  • The Big Picture: Don't just tell them what to do; tell them why it matters. Help them see how their individual tasks contribute to the company's overall goals and mission.
  • Show and Tell: Share stories of how your company's products or services have made a real impact on people's lives. Highlight customer testimonials, case studies, or even small wins showing the difference you're making in the world.
  • Do Good, Feel Good: Gen Z cares about social and environmental issues. If your company is involved in any philanthropic efforts or sustainability initiatives, make sure your employees know about it. Encourage them to get involved and give back to their community.

When your Gen Z employees understand the "why" behind their work, their motivation and engagement go through the roof. They'll be likelier to stick around, go the extra mile, and even become passionate advocates for your brand.

And that's the power of purpose.

#10 - Feedback is a Two-Way Street: How to Help Gen Z Grow (and Keep Them Around)

Ever had a boss who only talked to you during your annual performance review? 🤐 Yeah, Gen Z is not about that life. They crave regular feedback, guidance, and support to help them learn and grow on the job. And honestly, who doesn't?

  • Regular Check-Ins: Don't wait for annual reviews. Schedule weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with each team member. Use this time to discuss their progress, offer constructive feedback, and address any concerns they might have.
  • Be Specific and Actionable: Vague feedback like "good job" doesn't cut it. Give specific examples of what they're doing well and areas where they can improve. Offer suggestions and resources to develop their skills.
  • Mentorship Magic: Pair your Gen Z employees with experienced mentors who can offer guidance, support, and a different perspective. This can be a game-changer for their professional development.

Remember, feedback is a two-way street. 

Encourage your Gen Z employees to share their feedback with you. What's working? What could be improved? What resources or support do they need to succeed? 

By creating an open and honest dialogue, you'll build a stronger, more engaged team that's committed to continuous growth.

Ready to Build the Workplace of Gen Z's Dreams?

There you have it! We've covered a lot of ground, from flexible work policies and cutting-edge tech to open communication and meaningful recognition. 

But here's the thing: building a workplace where Gen Z thrives isn't just about following a checklist. It's about creating an environment where they feel empowered, inspired, and truly valued.

So, what are you waiting for? 

Start implementing these strategies today and watch your company become a magnet for top Gen Z talent.

Let's build a better future by working together. 🙌


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