Work groups | 5 tips for managing and retaining Gen-Z staff

5 tips for managing and retaining Gen-Z staff

There is a lot of negative criticism of Gen-Zers, including that they’re ‘entitled’ and ‘too confident’ -which can discourage some employers from recruiting 18-24-year-olds or investing time in them.

Our report found that this group of workers won’t settle for a raw deal. Data shows that they’re being offered fewer training opportunities than employees in other age groups, and often feel ‘distrusted’ by their employers. As a result, one third of them quit their job in the past year.

So they’re not afraid of walking if they feel they’re not being supported. Yet this perceived lack of loyalty doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be offered the same respect and opportunities as older colleagues – quite the opposite, in fact!

The UK is facing a workforce crisis, staff shortages are rife, we have a large ageing workforce and a recent study found more over-50s are opting for early retirement than ever before. The only way companies are going to retain some stability within their operations is if they invest in younger recruits - and keep them.

Understand what motivates them

Money and status were the key drivers propelling ambitious youngsters up the career ladder 10 years ago – but not today. Whether it’s the impact of the pandemic or a generation being told that they don’t need to settle, our study found younger workers are motivated by other factors.

Enjoying their work is the number one priority for 29% of 18–24-year-olds, followed by flexibility in their schedule for 19%.

It is therefore essential to get to know staff and understand what is going to make them happy in their work. This will help them perform at their best, and mean that they’re less likely to walk.

Onboard new recruits with a ‘getting to know you’ day – an ideal opportunity to understand what makes them tick from the very start. This intel can be tracked as their career progresses, with regular check-ins on whether those factors are still important to them and are still being respected.

If an employee is sold the dream that they’ll have autonomy over their schedule and can finish early on a Friday, and those things don’t happen, then it’s not unrealistic to expect that they might decide to look elsewhere.

Mutual respect is paramount

Worryingly, 59% of Gen-Zers we spoke to said they don’t feel their work is valued by their employer, a fifth of those said their work is regularly criticised by managers and the same amount believe their boss feels they are incapable of doing the job.

Whilst junior workers might not add the same value as someone who’s been in post for 20 years, remember we all need to start somewhere.

The best way to overcome perceived negativities is through respect. Be clear with staff from the outset that their opinions are important and will be listened to. It is also vital to establish what you expect in return. So, for example, critiquing the way a person does an activity shouldn’t be misinterpreted as an attack. The employee therefore has a responsibility to their boss to take feedback on board and learn from advice.

Everyone wants to feel valued at work and like their contribution is making a positive impact. Tools like Quinyx’s Pulse tool which enables you to quickly ask your workforce questions or survey’s on any topic you choose – e.g. simply how they’re feeling or their opinion on a new procedure. This allows you to get live feedback and helps drive engagement across your organisation.

Commit to training

Our study revealed that 68% of 18-24-year-olds are confident of finding new work quickly – a huge hike from 41% in 2021. With more job openings in the UK than ever before, this confidence is not unfounded, but it does make employees nervous that new recruits might be a flight risk.

Showing commitment to staff development, through training and mentoring, can go a long way in fostering employee loyalty. Only a third of Gen-Zers we surveyed said they were provided with training or educational resources by their employer.

Training doesn’t need to be costly and labour-intensive and could include on-the-job components where junior staff shadow more senior personnel, or a mentorship programme. The most important thing to remember is that consistency is vital – don’t deprioritise it for something deemed more important.

Embrace tech

As the most tech-savvy generation yet, most Gen-Zers control their everyday lives through their phones and expect their work lives to be no different.

However, our research showed only 14% of frontline workers use a WFM app to accept and swap shifts – a really low stat considering the prevalence of tech everywhere else. A WFM app can provide seamless communication between staff and management, schedules that can be viewed on the go, to-do lists at a glance, the function to give and receive praise, and much more. It allows for the flexibility that Gen-Zers demand.

To manage your workforce effectively - and to ensure you're ready for the next generation of frontline workers - you need to evolve with it.

Don’t fight it

As Bob Dylan famously sang, ‘times, they are a’changin’ - and people management needs to change with the times. Just because something has always been done a certain way, it doesn’t mean it still has to be. My best advice – look at your management style and question whether you are a potential barrier to retaining Gen-Z employees. There’s always room for growth.

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Quinyx is a cloud-native, mobile-first workforce management solution that simplifies scheduling, time reporting, communication, task management, budgeting and forecasting, thanks to AI-driven scheduling automation. Through advanced and flexible features, Quinyx helps more than 850 companies around the world improve efficiency, engage employees, comply with regulations and reduce labour costs. Today, Quinyx helps some of the world’s biggest businesses save time and money, boost productivity and enjoy work.