Gen Z wants more than snacks and happy hour at work

In recent years, many people who previously worked in the office have adapted to a remote-first or hybrid working model. And it’s likely that many knowledge workers won’t go back to the office full-time. Finally, we’ve stayed productive and achieved a better work-life balance with less commuting. But what does that mean for younger generations who are just starting their careers?

Many companies, including mine, offer flexible and hybrid work environments. After to Harvard Business ReviewMore than 90% of employers plan to introduce a hybrid working model for their knowledge workers in 2022. This is the result of Accenture’s latest study “Future of Work”. 83% of employees prefer a hybrid work model to full-time in the office or full-time remotely.

However, a new breed of Gen Z workers (born in the late 1990s and early 2000s) is just beginning their careers. What are you missing? Sure, Gen Zers want flexibility, but do hybrid or remote settings allow them to learn the skills to be tomorrow’s leaders? Industry leaders have expressed similar concerns. JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon explained earlier this year that working from home and just from the home environment “doesn’t work for young people.”

What can be lost in a distant world

Much has been said about Gen Zers’ desire to be part of their team. They long for meaning in their work. in one Slack poll Out of 4,700 remote workers, the company found just one area where employees are less happy when working remotely: belonging. Found technology company Cognizant 93% of Gen Z workers in all countries believe that it is important to feel a sense of belonging at work and that “making personal connections with managers and colleagues is an important part of belonging”.

The challenge is that a remote working environment has traditionally not been conducive to learning, development and engagement in the workplace – aspects that are particularly important for younger workers. Being in an office environment makes it easy to network, and previous generations have honed their interpersonal skills and judgment through years of relationship building, coaching and mentoring.

Think of sales reps sharing information about what works and doesn’t work across office walls. Imagine a customer service representative learning how to handle difficult calls by listening to colleagues navigate challenging interactions. These learning moments may be rarer in a hybrid environment, and perhaps even rarer in a remote environment.

Working remotely could mean less engagement and connections at a time crucial to building one’s professional network. Those moments of camaraderie; water cooler and lunch talks; quick conversations after a team meeting; sharing small struggles and big victories – these interactions build lasting relationships.

All of this means that remote work could stunt career growth in the long run. Your freshly qualified employees want to climb the career ladder. Some of this can happen virtually, but we need to think of better ways to manage career growth, work expectations, and learning opportunities when we’re not all in the office together.

Managers can make the difference

Many companies will continue to support types of remote or hybrid work. In February 2022, investor Charlie Munger shared that he believed the ways of working of the past would not return: “It’s never going back to the full-time white-collar office.” Google and Facebook have also said they will favor long-term hybrid work opportunities.

It is incumbent on managers and leaders to find better ways to provide useful direction and support to younger employees to succeed when we are not there in person. Every employee, regardless of location, should have the ability to measure their performance and progress. They should be able to respond in real-time, “How am I doing?” It is equally important that every manager understands how each employee is developing and in which areas they need coaching.

We need innovative solutions to help tomorrow’s managers and leaders achieve their personal best. Now is the time to reevaluate the processes and tools that individual employees and managers need to successfully build careers in this new world.

Building a successful flexible work environment requires a more multi-faceted approach than virtual happy hours and “Employee of the Month” recognition to engage and engage employees. Here are nine effective steps to help Gen Z thrive in a hybrid or remote environment.

  1. Be proactive in coaching employees. Help younger employees make connections and understand the bigger picture. Being proactive means establishing an open-door policy and providing timely feedback and praise to facilitate dialogue and engagement regardless of location.
  2. Set clear goals and metrics and measure success. Goals and KPIs are vital in any work situation, but they’re especially important when you’re managing remotely.
  3. Give your employees visibility into how they’re meeting their goals — and how they’re performing against others — with real-time data and metrics. Without being among peers, it’s difficult to really understand the day-to-day expectations and the yardstick for success.
  4. Create opportunities to network personally. When employees are in the office together, things like group training and team building are fun and engaging. More informal get-togethers, like an afternoon walk with team members who live close together, can also help promote camaraderie.
  5. Set up a mentoring program. Make sure new hires team up with a manager in addition to their manager. Someone from another department can offer unbiased advice.
  6. Create more growth opportunities. Encourage remote workers to be promoted when it’s worth it. Look for opportunities for promotion, even if it’s incremental progression. Internal upward mobility helps employees grow and strengthens employee retention.

This more holistic approach should help guide our younger employees towards improving their performance and advancing their careers, and to become strategically important contributors and leaders.

Alex Kvamme is the CEO of night lighta team management platform. Gen Z wants more than snacks and happy hour at work


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