Gen Z are the most unhappy workers and it’s a problem for employers

Gen Z workers aren’t happy at work.

Of the four working generations, those born between 1997 and 2012 are more likely to say their jobs are frustrating and overwhelming, a survey finds. Another found that Zoomers are more likely to say they have low energy for non-work activities at the end of the day. The obvious result? The younger generation is more likely to say they are looking for a new job or to have quit recently, according to a third survey.

This is a problem for employers, who lose a lot of money for each worker who leaves. But experts say managers can retain these younger workers by better understanding their needs and implementing strategies to meet them.

“Fundamentally, [the workforce] is broken,” Chason Hecht, founder and CEO of Retensa, a consulting firm specializing in worker retention, told Yahoo Finance. That’s not the problem. It’s a manifestation of this kind of underlying chasm between the needs, wants and expectations of the modern employee and what employers provide.”

(Photo: Getty Creative)

(Photo: Getty Creative)

“Cost of fully charged turnover”

A recent Bankrate survey of 2,417 American adults found that Gen Z was more likely to report leaving a job and finding a new one in the past year than any other generation. It also revealed that 55% of Gen Z workers say they are “very likely” to look for a new job in the next 12 months, compared to 43% of Gen Y, 28% of Gen X and 13 % of baby boomers.

That’s a wake-up call for employers, said Jeff Wahl, CEO of Big Blue Marble Academy, which designs preschool curriculum. Wahl said the company has been focused on retention during the “silent shutdown” trend and the big quit period during the pandemic. He says he’s been able to keep voluntary turnover to just 1% — down from the national average of 17.8% in 2021 and 2022, according to Mercer — and said retaining Gen Z workers can save managers major difficulties all along the line.

For example, replacing a single employee can cost one and a half to two times that employee’s annual salary, according to Gallup, who called the estimate “conservative.”

“Only do this if you are willing to be honest in the math, but for those who are driven by numbers, calculate the full cost of your turnover and you will be amazed. You will be absolutely amazed at how it’s high is,” Wahl said. “That’s what you do today. What if you invest half of this figure by investing in your employees?

‘Wwork when they want to work

A starting point is workplace flexibility. The Bankrate survey found that 61% of Gen Zers said they would likely ask their managers for more flexibility over the next year.

“The Gen Z worker has an interest in working when they want to work, and that may not align perfectly with when your manager wants to work,” Hecht said.

This may or may not mean working from home.

“It’s a myth that every Gen Z wants to work from home. What they want is the flexibility that when something happens, you have a sick parent or you’re not feeling well or there are construction work out of your home,” Lindsey Pollak, author of The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in Multigenerational Workplaces, told Yahoo Finance. “It’s possible to be very productive at home. And you know you can have all the tools you need at home. So it makes less sense for someone not to approve that request.”

But this flexibility can help these young workers better spend time on their own. A survey of 1,000 American workers from SHRM, the professional organization for human resource professionals, found that 63% of Gen Zers had little energy to engage in non-work activities at the end of the workday. work, compared to 54% of millennials, 44% of Gen X and 33% of baby boomers.

To help young workers manage their time off, Pollak said employers need to provide clear paid time off, or PTO, policies. For example, she advised against telling an employee to “take a reasonable amount of PTO.”

“Have a clear policy and explain it,” Pollak said, offering an example of two weeks vacation plus 10 PTO days.

“Because we want you to have the flexibility you need to take care of your life, but it’s important to us that we know when you’re going to be in the office so other people can plan their schedules,” said Pollack. “It’s a clear and understandable policy.”

‘What does it actually take?’

Advancement is also important for Zoomers. Companies often offer exit interviews to resigning employees, but Pollak said they should offer “retention conversations” instead. In such conversations, employers should help employees understand what they can do to progress in their role and ask how they can support them as they progress.

“What does it actually take?” said Pollack. “Challenging the way things have always been done in terms of career paths and promotions to be precise within the parameters needed to level up.”

When it comes to advancement, a clear path is key, Wahl said.

“We had to say, ‘Okay, that’s how you can do it. That’s where you are. And that’s the next role you can play and that’s what it would be like. ‘investment’,” he said.

“Start by building trust”

For Zoomers, the need for regular communication is essential to create a strong bond with their employer. For example, at Big Blue Marble Academy, Wahl said he regularly hosts monthly virtual coffee shops and town halls to check in with employees.

“It really starts with building trust, showing respect, bridging generational divides, being flexible and just asking them, so we go through a lot of processes, what we call earning the voice of the customer,” Wahl said. .

Wahl also uses technology to provide different channels of communication, a strategy that reaches young people. Big Blue Marble Academy previously struggled to retain potential employees during the recruiting process, but the company then implemented a technology platform called Mainstay, which reaches both potential candidates and new hires with chatbots and SMS to answer questions.

“It really helped us connect with them better and engage with their demographics,” he said. “Additionally, with AI chatbots, we can quickly communicate with each of them, engage and follow up quickly when they apply, from the time they apply up to 30 days into their new role.”

(Credit: Pew Research Center)

(Credit: Pew Research Center)

Pollak recommended companies employ a method called “reverse mentoring,” in which junior and senior employees meet regularly to discuss their workplace views.

This combination could help increase job satisfaction and counter the negative feelings young workers have about their jobs. For example, older employees are more likely to find their jobs enjoyable and fulfilling, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, while Gen Zers are more likely to find work stressful and overwhelming. Reaching out to this younger generation can help managers discover why this disparity exists.

“The easiest thing anyone can do to improve is have a conversation with Gen Z,” Pollak said. “Very senior executives will say to me, ‘what do my Gen Z want?’ And I always say, ‘you asked them?’ You have to get to know people and talk to them.”

Dylan Croll is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.

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