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A global pandemic and a possible recession in the United States are reshaping the workforce, but the impact of Gen Z could be greater than the two.

Senior HR managers are taking notice and adapting their recruitment and employee management practices not only to the needs but also the wants of this younger class of workers. It’s a clear generational divide, said Don Robertson, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Northwestern Mutual.

“This generation is not like previous generations, they know that, they want to make an impact,” he said. “They want to connect with leaders, they want to interact with them, they want it to be very personal and very intimate.”

The professional intimacy and connectedness that Gen Z seeks in the workplace is something that Robertson says has caused a breakdown in the traditional relationship between employees and leadership.

Having lived through the Covid-19 pandemic which has modernized the way they learn and work, Gen Z are taking charge of the workforce and reimagining what it means for companies to take care of their employees.

These young workers are characterized by their willingness to leave jobs that do not offer enough personal support and professional development. According to experts, the key to retaining them for years to come is to make their work more than a good salary.

Their requests are quite simple.

Apple Musni, Vice President and People Partner at Chipotlehas broken down the main needs of this young generation into three areas.

“It’s mental well-being, a fair and socially responsible workplace, and then compensation,” she said.

Musni said that while these three aspects of a job were something previous generations also considered important, Gen Z has turned these workplace characteristics into “a must-have and a business requirement rather than an asset.” .

Prioritize mental health issues

As the pandemic has forced Gen Z to embrace remote learning and working environments, the need for employers who can respond to growing mental health issues is a crucial deciding factor for Gen Z candidates.

What these conversations most often lack, Robertson said, is providing workers with the space to regain autonomy not only over their work, but also over their lives.

According to Robertson, companies can help workers regain that control by being flexible about things like mandatory attendance days and allowing parents to adjust their schedules to meet caregiving responsibilities.

Pay transparency and growth opportunities

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