Strategies for Leading the Modern Workforce in a Multigenerational Era

The demands on leaders have never been greater, from navigating changing work environments to fostering continuous learning. One key aspect of this changing landscape is Generation Z’s (Gen Z) emergence as a significant workforce presence – by 2025, Gen Z and Millenials will comprise 75% of the modern workforce. To lead this generation successfully, it is essential to understand and engage effectively with Gen Z employees, who have a vastly different view of work, the world around us, relationships, and what matters most.

As an example, it is not uncommon for most Gen Z to have the opportunity to take a course on “Work Culture” as part of their standard business school higher education, whereas a focus on culture is still a relatively new idea for tenured business leaders of prior generations. The dichotomy of world views, opininions, and priorities cannot be dismissed for organizations who want to continue to see success in this new, multigenerational era.

Understanding Gen Z Values and Preferences

Gen Z, born roughly between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, has new, unique perspectives and preferences regarding work and life than the previous generations of workers. Gen Z has grown up in a digitally connected world, which has shaped their attitudes toward work and life. Studies show that Gen Z values empathy and inclusivity in leadership, with Deloitte ranking empathy as the second most important trait in a boss for this generation. This highlights the importance of cultivating a culture of empathy and understanding within organizations to engage Gen Z employees effectively.

Moreover, Gen Z seeks purpose and meaning in their work more than any generation before them. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 61% of Gen Z individuals consider work a significant part of their identity. This highlights the importance of aligning organizational values and missions with the values of Gen Z employees. Leaders must communicate the broader purpose of their organization and connect employees to this purpose to foster a sense of belonging and fulfillment.

Strategies for Leading Gen Z and Beyond

  1. Cultivate empathy: Empathy is a fundamental aspect of effective leadership, particularly when engaging with Gen Z employees. Leaders should prioritize understanding the unique perspectives and experiences of their Gen Z team members. This can involve actively listening to their concerns, providing support and mentorship, and creating an inclusive work environment where all voices are heard and valued. The single best way to accomplish this? A monthly 1:1 meeting with each employee with an agenda built for this modern, new generation era.
  2. Invest in Continuous Learning: Upskilling and continuous learning have become imperative for career growth and success as AI and technological advancements reshape industries. Leaders should invest in robust learning and development programs to equip Gen Z employees with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in an ever-changing landscape. This could include offering access to online courses, mentorship programs, and hands-on learning and experimentation opportunities. At the very least, every organization should have an internal University to foster continuous learning and upskilling.
  3. Connect to the Company’s Mission: Gen Z employees are driven by purpose and seek meaning in their work. Leaders can effectively engage Gen Z by clearly communicating the organization’s mission and values and illustrating how each employee contributes to achieving these goals. Leaders can inspire motivation and commitment among Gen Z team members by connecting employees to the company’s broader purpose.

To implement these strategies, organizational leaders need to take a proactive approach. It involves systems, processes and programs that foster a culture of purpose-driven leadership, continuous learning and growth, prioritizing empathy and inclusivity in leadership practices, and aligning organizational goals with the values and preferences of Gen Z employees.

Moreover, leaders must recognize that effective leadership in the multigenerational era extends beyond Gen Z. With six generations in the workforce, understanding and bridging generational differences is critical for creating cohesive and high-performing teams.

Leading the modern workforce requires a nuanced understanding of Gen Z employees’ values, preferences, and aspirations and a commitment to fostering empathy, continuous learning, and purpose-driven work environments. By embracing these strategies, leaders can navigate the complexities of the multigenerational era and drive organizational success in the years to come.

Need help in understanding or implementing these strategies? Lead With Purpose’s programs and online platform were built to support leaders in this multigenerational era. Gen Z loves the One Page Purpose Plan and the simple leadership frameworks that bring them into the fold, develop them as leaders regardless of age or role, make their voice count, and give them a greater purpose to be connected to at work that they can believe in.