Optimus Think

Navigating a Hybrid Work Environment with Gen Z Employees


Millennials, who have dominated the workforce for the past decade, are now ceding the stage to the next generation of employees – Generation Z. In this time of flux and change, leaders face the challenge of engaging and retaining Gen Z talent. This cohort has different expectations of organizations and leaders and can exercise their option to leave given their other global employment opportunities. This issue is further complicated as leaders are simultaneously trying to maintain strong engagement in a hybrid work environment. Our new work environment requires increased communication, collaboration, and leadership participation. Below are 5 insights on how to successfully engage and retain Gen Z employees.

Understand Gen Z’s Values

Gen Zs are the new entrants to the workforce, and they come with a different set of values, expectations, and behaviours than previous generations. They value flexibility, freedom, work-life integration, and ethical work practices. Therefore, one of the crucial things that employers must do is align their company values with Gen Z’s values. It’s imperative to listen to and learn from Gen Zs, to foster a culture that values individuality and inclusivity. Leaders can ensure that Gen Z employees thrive in a hybrid work environment by tailoring their communication style to their unique preferences. This often means using more technology, planning impactful face to face meetings, and creating a safe space for them to share their ideas and suggestions.

Offer Authentic Work

Gen Z is partial to authentic work projects that contribute to society, are data-driven, and innovative. With hybrid work arrangements, teams can work together to agree on shared goals that promote engagement, creativity, and collaboration. Managers can assign meaningful projects to Gen Zs that align with their passions and goals, resulting in a more committed and enthusiastic workforce. Gen Z employees have a strong desire to feel challenged and appreciated in their work, so providing ‘stretch’ assignments that push Gen Zs out of their comfort zone are a great way to tap into their creativity and innovation.

Optimize the Digital Experience

The pandemic has considerably shifted the nature of work. Even after the pandemic, remote work has remained, and Gen Z employees must navigate various digital tools effectively. Hybrid work arrangements offer the perfect opportunity to introduce training programs that engage Gen Z employees in digital upskilling. They are digital natives, so companies should ensure that employees have access to the latest digital tools, platforms, and technologies. This helps employees to work efficiently and improves collaboration across teams.

Promote Autonomy and Flexibility

Gen Z employees are accustomed to a society that provides easy access to information and has a short attention span. They value the ability to work autonomously and be flexible, which is a big reason why remote work is so attractive to them. Working from home offers flexibility, and Gen Z employees are known for their ability to complete tasks more efficiently than their counterparts. Given this, leaders should focus on delivering projects within specified timelines and requirements and allow for input and experimentation to consider alternative ideas and approaches to achieving the desired outcomes.

Tailor Employee Recognition

Organizations and leaders must acknowledge and utilize innovative techniques for recognizing Gen Z employees’ hard work. Often, traditional awards and recognition programs are lack luster and don’t motivate Gen Zs. Leaders must understand the unique characteristics of the Gen Z workforce in order to offer the most authentic and valued recognition and rewards. This includes tailored compensation plans, public recognition, and unconventional incentives such as learning stipends, donations, and mentorship opportunities.

The Bottom Line

Gen Z employees bring a fresh perspective to their work and a new set of professional goals. Leaders must be flexible enough to adjust to their unique needs in a hybrid work environment, where working from home is the norm. Creating a work culture that is flexible, values autonomy, and fosters innovation and creativity is crucial to retaining Gen Z employees. Organizations must evolve and adopt innovative ways of engaging employees to promote a culture of learning and recognition that resonated with Gen Zs. By embracing these techniques, leaders stand to gain a committed and motivated workforce that will drive their organizations to exceptional growth and success.

Optimus SBR’s Learning & Enablement 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, Principal, Learning & Enablement Practice


Optimus Think