Leading Generations Y and Z in the Work Place

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By Soulaima Gourani

This new era requires new ways to work, think and live. Latest research shows that people who are bored and not motivated in life may die younger than those who do something they like and feel passionate about. Our bodies are designed to trigger an internal bomb to make an end to one's sufferings. So simply put, you don't live as long.

Food for thought, isn't it?

Generation Z and Y (25-35+) have grown up seeing their parents sell their time and life to soul-crushing jobs. As a result, this younger generation will always ask “why?” They look for meaning in everything they do and to them, if there is no meaning, then there is no passion, and with no passion, they burn out or simply leave the workforce to find new ways to live. They are very loyal to their life values. So, when you think of this generation, refer to them as generation “WHY.”

I like to refer generation Z also known has iGen and Post-Millennials (below 23 in age) as “zappers,” because they “zap” through jobs, just like when one uses a remote control to switch channels on a television. Research shows that this generation is expected to have had 10-14 jobs before they turn 38 years old. Proving that job security is not enough; they are not looking to “just earn a living.” This group is looking for their job to fulfill a purpose, and if they can’t find a job that will satisfy their souls and minds, they will create it. This generation will do what’s necessary to design their own lives. In other words, this generation will design a new way of living and working.

How to lead people you cannot fire? Can you give them a real reason to stay in the position that is not built on salary or fear? If employers are looking to lead this new generation that has started (or have) to enter the workforce, then employers and companies may need to change the way their organizations are structured. Do you have old-fashioned cubicles or standard 9-5pm work policies?

This generation is all about collaboration and flexibility, so try perhaps an open workspace or incorporate a ‘flextime’ work schedule, where employees, set their own hours? Both of these generations want to design their own lives, create their own education and their own jobs. You as a manager/leader have to understand that you no longer can use “one size fits all” mentality. They want to hand-pick and design their own lives. This is their new way of thinking, consuming and living.

As a manager, you must get used to the fact that your employees may not involve you in their life design. Having full access to these employees five days a week; during specific hours, or that we “own” them because of an employment contract—those times will be soon gone. Generation Z will demand that you, as the employer, accept and embrace their own individual life designs.

There isn't just one life design or master plan that fits everyone. There are more than 1 million combinations to relate too. Therefore, you will need to accept many different ways of “going to/being at work,” and you as a manager have to be as open-minded as they are. If you want to see your employees and if it important to you that they are in the office, that may be a challenge as well.

Technology makes it possible for a lot of us to work from wherever we want. So, managers everywhere may need to reject the illusion of the “I-can-see-you-therefore-you-are-working” mentality. As you know, technology will create entirely new forms of employment, and it will create new jobs. The number of "remote workers” will increase all over the world, and it will make it possible to include more flexibility in the life design of everyone.

When it comes to education, young people are going to spend one year here, and one year there. Something may be done online, other things physically at a school. They won't often have a diploma from just one school. They will combine and create their own education. It can almost hurt a “baby boomer” to hear about how the youths of the future now expect real flexibility and professional development, while they also insist on inspiration, passion, and purpose in the job. The future will be incredibly diverse. It will be about individual ways of living and working.

About Soulaima Gourani, author:
Soulaima is a motivational speaker and philanthropist with approximately 200 public talks/year around the world. She is an advisor to major companies on customer loyalty, strategic networking and change management and employee motivation and future of business. She has worked as an advisor/and/or speaker for clients e.g. Samsung, DuPont, LEGO, McKinsey, DELL, Microsoft, Stanford University, BMW, Cisco, and many more. In March 2012 Soulaima was selected as one of the 192 management leaders in 2012-2017 by the World Economic Forum. In 2016 Soulaima was appointed by TED Talks as a mentor to the speakers. For more information on Soulaima, please visit: www.soulaima.com.