Engaging Generation Z Employees in a Diverse Workplace

ITA Group

Generation Z in the Workplace

Note: In the second of our three-part series, “A New Era: Here Comes Generation Z,” we look at how diversity—in many different forms—is at the heart of a Generation Z workplace, as well as how employers motivate their team to engage with a wide variety of programs.

They’re 60 million people large, don’t remember a time before social media and were raised in the shadow of an economic downturn. And, if they’re not in your workforce now, they will be very soon.

While they’re currently only about 2% of the workforce, they are a whopping 24% of the population. But by 2020, Generation Z will make up an estimated 30% of the workforce and 40% of the consumer market. Remarkably, 65% of them will work in jobs that don’t even exist yet, as technology plays a major role in their lives.

Generation Z, largely defined as the generation born after 1997, are sharply different than millennials in a number of ways. One of the most glaring of the differences is Generation Z’s diversity.

Generation Z is the most racially diverse generation in U.S. history. As the racial makeup of America shifts, the importance of diversity in the workplace also grows. But diversity doesn’t end with race—when employers build a workforce with five different generations, each with their own backgrounds and experiences, workplaces must evolve to embrace all kinds of diversity.

Without a doubt, this merging and diversity of culture in your workforce will cause disruption. As Generation Z continues to move into the workforce, these four aspects will grow in importance:

The Importance of Community

Perhaps more than any other generation, the community in and around your company is significant to Generation Z.

According to a study from NC State University, the motto of Generation Z is “work to live, not live to work.” They want a workplace that is community-minded, not just a place to earn a paycheck.

As an article from Inc.com details, that desire to form a community influences the way this generation wants to communicate with their peers as well as with their bosses.

“Even though they are fluent in a world of social media, text messages and email,” the article states, “they would much rather have genuine conversations and connections with higher-ups.”

Building a workplace that is a community is crucial to attracting and retaining members of Generation Z in your workplace.

The Importance of Whole-Employee Wellbeing

As digital natives, laptops, smartphones and TVs are never far from Generation Z. Their constant connectivity draws them to screens constantly—and that adds up to unhealthy activity habits.

According to the same study from NC State University, in the 2007–2008 school year, 17% of public school students were identified as having chronic health conditions, compared with just 6% in 1997–1998. And experts estimate that number has grown since.

But wellbeing in the workplace extends further than physical exercise—it’s about work-life balance. And Generation Z craves that balance in a workplace, a CNBC article notes: “(Generation Z) will push for greater work-life balance, increased workplace flexibility and more rapid advancement opportunities than older generations.”

The Importance of Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship

The environment is a concern with Generation Z—perhaps more so than any other generation. Generation Z will be the generation who must solve some of the most difficult environmental issues previous generations failed to solve.

And they want their employer to mirror their passion toward the environment and bring that ethos of sustainability and environmental stewardship to the workplace, too.

It’s up to employers to empower this generation in a way that promotes their interest in helping the environment. Those employers who create a culture where innovation is rewarded and provide opportunities for Generation Z to exercise their pragmatic entrepreneurial spirit will improve employee culture and become a prime corporate example of successful sustainability at work in the real world.

How to Motivate Generation Z Employees

It’s one thing to offer employee community, wellbeing and sustainability engagement programs that speak to the broad diversity of your workplace.

But merely offering these programs is not always enough—including the right incentive for your team members to engage with these programs is is key to success.

What can employers do? Motivate Generation Z employees with personalized experiences and simplify program complexity.

People are best motivated if they have the ability to earn larger, more meaningful rewards by pooling points across programs. Motivation and engagement can be further enhanced through easy-access and integrated multi-screen technologies that allow employees to track their own progress and redeem personalized rewards anywhere at any time.

To help motivate a diverse group of employees, give them what they want: personalized lifestyle rewards. By tapping into behavioral economics to drive the right behaviors and offering a variety of reward types that are meaningful to the individual, you will increase motivation all across your company.


Check out part one of our Generation Z series to learn three more things you need to know about Generation Z and how to motivate them.