Optimus Think

Leading & Engaging Gen Zs – The Bold Approach


Born between 1996 and 2012, Gen Zs are the new age workforce that is gradually changing the landscape of the corporate world. Driven by a strong sense of purpose, they constantly seek for authentic and fulfilling work experiences, and embrace experiences that allow them to grow, learn, and contribute to the world around them. As they enter organizations as early career talent , they often find it hard to adapt to traditional corporate cultures and leadership styles.

But it’s not just Gen Zs struggling to adapt. Managers of Gen Zs are having a hard time engaging this new group of employees. It is essential for all leaders to understand how to lead and engage Gen Zs more effectively. So how do you inspire, motivate, and retain Gen Zs in the workplace?

Creating a Purpose-Driven Culture

Gen Zs crave purpose in their work, so it’s necessary to create a sense of connection and purpose that resonates with them. From our research, one of Gen Zs’ top goals is to “become a better person” and if they can see a connection between what they do at work and how they are growing and contributing to something bigger than themselves, they are much more likely be invested in the organization’s success. Start by ensuring that Gen Zs understand their role and the connection it has to the organization’s goals by explaining how their work contributes to the company’s success. By doing so, you can significantly increase engagement, reduce burnout, and enhance “stickiness” to the organization.

Encourage Personal and Professional Growth

For Gen Zs, personal growth is just as important as professional growth. By encouraging personal growth, you show that you are interested in their overall well-being. Offering opportunities for professional development, like attending conferences or training, will help them grow professionally. This investment also benefits the organization, especially if they can apply the new learning within their roles and receive coaching from their leader that reinforces the learning.

Embrace Flexibility

With a natural inclination towards work-life integration, Gen Zs love flexibility. The traditional workday may not work for them, so ensuring that the workplace is flexible enough to accommodate a fluid workstyle is critical to enhancing their engagement and retention. This could be the option to work remotely, flexible schedules, or even job-sharing arrangements. Gen Zs are focused on outcomes more than process or structure, and therefore, will expect autonomy to work on tasks/activities when and where it works best for them. On the other hand, managing expectations around ‘core’ business hours and anchor days in the office is important because Gen Zs need to understand the role they play in contributing to overall team success through commitments to others and business deliverables. Setting up goal posts for performance helps balance the needs for flexibility and in person collaboration.

Mentorship Programs

Gen Zs possess a strong growth mindset and crave mentorship. Investing in a mentorship program shows your willingness to support them in their professional growth while guiding them along the way. A good mentorship program helps to build trust, instill confidence, and ensure the mentees feel valued and supported. Ideally a mentor is not the same person they report to, so the relationship can be focused on holistic development and be driven by the Gen Z mentee, versus a top-down directive.

Incorporate Technology

As a tech-empowered generation, Gen Zs have grown up embedding technology into everything they do. Incorporating innovative technologies and new apps that can make work easier, faster, and more efficient for them will spark their productivity and creativity. Automation, gamification, and enhanced collaboration will all be benefits that resonate with Gen Zs. Organizations that don’t integrate technology into their businesses may be perceived by Gen Zs as less innovative, creative and cutting edge which can impact the ability to recruit top talent.

A Final Thought

Leading and engaging Gen Zs in today’s corporate environment requires a bold approach. Creating a sense of purpose, encouraging personal and professional growth, embracing flexibility, providing mentorship opportunities, and incorporating technology are a few ways to effectively motivate and engage Gen Zs. Remember that Gen Zs are driven by authenticity, growth, and innovation, and the bolder you are in creating a progressive work environment for them, the more fruitful your organization’s team culture will become.

Optimus SBR’s Learning & Development Practice

At Optimus SBR, we know first-hand that building a great team is about attracting, retaining, and engaging top talent. We partner with clients to create scalable, targeted, experiential learning programs that enhance people leadership, employee engagement, team collaboration, and performance results.

If you’re a leader looking to build an Early Career Development Program in your organization, please feel free to connect and learn more about opportunities to partner with us.

Giselle Kovary, Head of Learning & Development Practice

Optimus Think