Helping Generation Z Thrive in the New Workplace Normal

Let’s face it—this last year of living and working under COVID conditions has been tough for us all. Whether your business has gone remote, faced lockdowns, or kept its doors open, there’s no question your team was stressed through it all. They’re likely battling the anxiety born from the virus itself, as well as fears for their jobs in an apprehensive economy.

It’s tough. Chances are, recovery is going to take a while. It’s a lot for an employee to comprehend, especially while trying to keep their performance at its best despite COVID-19. 

For your youngest employees, those who are still in school or freshly graduated, the stress of the pandemic-era workplace can be especially great. After all, these emerging professionals don’t yet have the workplace experience to know how to evolve in a crisis and rebound. Since they’re often among the last to be hired, they’re also among the first to be furloughed or fired. 

This means your Generation Z workers are likely going to need additional support, both during the pandemic and after it ends.

 Addressing Physical and Mental Health Challenges

Young adulthood is supposed to be the best time of life, but for many members of Generation Z, this time of hope and possibility is inflected with significant challenges. Many new college graduates are saddled with unprecedented amounts of student loan debt. And now, thanks to the pandemic, they are facing massive work disruptions and an uncertain economic future just as they were beginning to get their careers off the runway.

Studies show that Generation Z is experiencing disproportionate levels of stress and anxiety that have impacted their ability to work. Indeed, in a recent survey, 75% of Generation Z respondents reported that they left a job because of mental health reasons.  

For this reason, prioritizing your young workers’ physical and mental health is paramount. This should include generous benefits packages that provide mental and behavioral health care as well as medical benefits. On top of that, offering supplemental benefits, such as gym memberships, can go a long way to supporting your workers’ mental and emotional wellbeing.

Additionally, your youngest workers will likely place a premium on a work/life balance, which probably means rethinking your traditional staffing and scheduling strategies. Offering flextime and remote working options will be highly attractive for your Generation Z workers. Consequently, flexibility is a hot commodity these days. It’s appetizing to everyone, especially for those who are simultaneously working and pursuing their studies or to those who are looking to save money.

Building a Strong Financial Future

One of the most challenging aspects of pandemic living is simply the profound financial uncertainty that comes along with it. With millions of Americans out of work, and countless businesses teetering on the brink of shutdown, Generation Z employees may fear that they’ll never truly have a chance to launch their professional lives. They’re likely scared that the jobs might be gone, but their college debt won’t.

Because of this, it is a good idea to work with your young employees to address their financial concerns, pointing them to resources that might enable them to build a more stable financial future, no matter what the pandemic may bring. For example, if your employee is facing significant student debt, you might educate them on resources they can use to negotiate manageable repayment plans or even pursue partial or full loan forgiveness.

Likewise, because the coronavirus has injected such uncertainty into the global economy, it is important to help your young workers devise alternative working strategies to alleviate worries about a stable income. This is especially applicable to businesses that may require sporadic temporary shutdowns or a transition to a fully remote working environment to ride out the pandemic. 

Depending on the bylaws in your organization, for example, you might be able to offer freelancing opportunities for your young workers who have been furloughed or are experiencing reduced work hours. This way, you can retain your connection with your employees, and ensure that the evolving needs of your business are being met, even during operational downtimes. 

At the same time, your young employees can develop new skills to make them even more of an asset to your company. They’ll also be able to deploy their advanced tech-savviness to keep the money flowing and reduce financial anxiety. Best of all, you’ll be able to maintain constant communication with your young employees which is essential in preventing FOMO.

The Takeaway

The “new” normal of the pandemic-era workplace is difficult for anyone to adjust to. But for Generation Z, these challenges are especially great when you’re striving to get your career off the ground. However, there are things you can do to help your youngest workers thrive. It simply requires you to validate their fears and help them come up with creative solutions to resolve them.

 Want to learn more about Generation Z in the workplace? Check out our blog post Recruiting Gen Z? Offer These Benefits.

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