Gen Z is entering the workforce at an extraordinarily stressful time. Authors Twiana Armstrong, Kimberly Layne and myself discuss what we are seeing, how Gen Z is responding, and what leaders can do.
Kimberly Layne: https://www.kimberly-layne.com/
Twiana Armstrong: https://linkedin.com/in/twianaarmstrong
#Roaring20s #Roaring2020s #MentalHealth #GenZ
Recently read an article posted in 1999 that read, “Not that the older generation, hasn’t always heaped hopes and fears on the rising one, expecting it both to carry on what adults value and avoid their mistakes.” As we reflect on our hopes and fears, we now witness five generations co-existing in the workplace: traditionalists, baby boomers, generation x, millennials, and generation z. Overlay this context with generational differences impacted by societal, political and community ills; all of which highlight differences between behaviors and outlooks. This generational diversity emphasizes that there is no one size fits all approach to leading and managing workers, especially our younger generations, the gen xers, millennials and the gen zers. Growing up, their worlds have been shaped by extremely significant events, oftentimes violent and chaotic, that subsequently influence their daily motivations. Leaders who do their homework have identified the keys to adapt, to communicate, to accommodate and prioritize for these generational variations. Be bold in your efforts to invest in psychological empowerment and psychological flexibility, both of which promote mindfulness and positive mental health and quality of life, allowing for employee self-care.
As parents, as teachers, as leaders, if we really stop and look, I mean really stop and look, …How do we see our younger generations faring, not just physically, but mentally?
Disruption is no longer temporary, but our “new normal.” The pandemic is in its third year, and we are also facing geopolitical conflicts, extreme climate events, sexual abuse, and inequality
For many adults, we have past memories, …happier and more positive memories that keep us keeping on, but, for our younger generations their lives have been a slew of unpredictable traumatic events:
Plane attacks, school Shootings, lock downs, terrible isolation, and disconnection. These constant unpredictable events, …hit the human core and are a terrorizing threat to their internal safety.
No wonder we see increased ADHD, depression, suicide, and violence against each other There is an absence of control, understanding and a helplessness on how to fix the problem.
Our youth are fighting to gain control
They press their employers to tackle climate change and find halfhearted responses that have minimal reach.
They have inspired organizations to address workplace mental health, yet they themselves suffer mentally, and are fearful to ask for help or take advantage of resources.
How can you as a leader meet these generations where they are?
Insightful David Rock, co-founder and CEO of the Neuro Leadership Institute, states
. “When the outside world is really uncertain, we all need more purpose and control in our day-to-day.” Getting our younger generations intrinsically tied to their work and meaning of the work they are doing is one way to give them back control.
Another way to give back control is to develop higher emotional skills. Such as Empathy, vulnerability, and an emotional understanding of ourselves and our struggling youth.
Your emotional strength as a leader provides a controlled environment for emotional safety and security.
Our younger generations are crying out; we as leaders need to be able to empathetically read, understand, and motivate them through this erupting landscape and keep them keeping on in a healthy mental state.
Yes, Gen Z is entering the workforce during a very fraught time.
This is the first generation fully raised on Social Media.
This is a Generation that grew up with the multiple threats of school shootings, pandemic, and climate change.
They’ve learned that the adults in their lives ostensibly there to protect them are resoundingly failing to do so.
They have no allusions that their employers will behave any differently than other adults in older generations.
One way that Gen Z is responding is by putting their social media skills to use and organizing to create worker-led movements. Famously, there’s a wave of Starbucks workers forming unions. As of today, over 150 stores in 25 states voted in favor of unionizing and hundreds of stores across the country are awaiting union votes.
Workers at other high profile companies are also unionizing: Amazon, Apple , REI and Trader Joe’s just to name a few.
Younger generations find that building community in the workplace is an effective way to address the mental wellness issues of our age. I am expecting to see this trend continue.
Cynically, some employers have responded by co-opting the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion movement to bust union organizing efforts. In his recent article in the Intercept, Lee Fang also points out that employers are discontinuing using terms like “human capital” which speaks to the commodification of people at the company.
While these rebranding efforts may work on older generations, Gen Z sees these as the union-busting efforts they are, which further enrages and activates them. They’re seeking actual material benefits, not just words.
A Gen Z version of Jerry MacGuire might say: Show me the Diversity, the Equity, the Inclusion, and the Money!