The key to a progressive workplace

By Matt Parker CEO at Babble

A shift in mentality 

Shock, but Gen Z employees aren’t going to disappear. A new generation brings in new wants and workplace desires, with our report showing they are demanding a better work life balance. Business leaders must recognise the need for a shift in leadership mentality. Though “rise and grind” culture is starting to die out, perceptions continue to exist, therefore business leaders must advocate for a rounded approach that encompasses mental, physical, and ethical fitness. Our innovative ‘Fit to Lead’ framework addresses these changes, as well as other fresh societal and economic challenges stemming from technology advances and geopolitical landscape, providing a comprehensive roadmap for leadership success that resonates with both seasoned employees and emerging Gen Z talent. 

Busting the stereotypes  

The first step in this journey is dispelling the stereotypes that unfairly characterise Gen Z. Too often, they are labelled as entitled or disengaged. However, as a father to two Gen Zs, one who has recently entered the workforce, I’ve witnessed my daughter’s approach to the working world first-hand, which has helped shape my understanding of this generation. I’ve got employees aged from 18 into their 60s and I’ve learnt that it’s key to try and relate to the individual challenges people of all age groups are feeling. By trying to understand what Gen Z wants and desires, you can dispel the myths we keep hearing and instead focus on channelling the positive attributes this generation brings to the workforce. 

I don’t have all the answers, but I know that my children aren’t lazy and I’d hate for their employers to ever think that way about them. What I also know is that this generation is just entering the workforce and they need to learn if they want to succeed. So, my goal is to always create a positive learning experience for Gen Z employees as that’s what I want for my children. So, whether that’s sitting them by more experienced professionals, or exposing them to as many opportunities as possible, when they leave Babble (because they will, and probably sooner than we’d like!), their CV will look stronger than when they arrived and they will take a lot out of the experience.

Changing your approach 

With the world of work rapidly changing, all leaders need to adjust their approach. Today’s leaders must consider the long term value of running a business in a far more rounded manner, which is why encompassing their physical, mental and ethical fitness is so important.

It is impossible to tailor your leadership to one specific approach, so by focusing on your mental, ethical and physical fitness you are able to lead with clarity. As well, open dialogue and agreed-upon principles are essential for making responsible decisions that resonate with Gen Z. By consciously investing time and resources in creating a culture that values each and every employee, you can ensure your company remains a workplace where discussion thrives as every employee feels heard. Furthermore, leadership by example is key in any organisation. 

At Babble, we prioritise transparency  and our innovative Happiness Index score shows this. Every week, employees share how happy they’re feeling at work on a scale of 1-10. Myself, and other members of Babble’s leadership team, reach out to those who express dissatisfaction to understand why they are feeling this way and create positive change where we can. This allows me to not only lead by example, but I get the opportunity to speak with people across the entire business on a regular basis. 

Alongside this, we have implemented policies that are in line with new expectations of the workplace. These include increased flexibility and a condensed 9-day fortnight. This isn’t exclusive to Babble though, our research shows that 38% of UK business leaders are leading by example by offering additional time aways from work outside of holiday allowance (38%) so employees can take part in activities that promote mental, physical or ethical fitness. Gen Z employees benefit from these perks, but it also fosters a more inclusive environment for all generations within an organisation. This commitment to listening and acting on feedback fosters a culture of trust and mutual respect, empowering all employees to thrive. 

Evolution is key 

As business leaders, we mustn’t cling to the norms of our working lives and expect Gen Z to align with us. It’s like trying to fit a circle into a square box—it simply won’t work. Gen Z is less inclined to stay at a job for ten years and adhere to a strict five-day office schedule, and that’s perfectly fine. We currently have five generations in the workforce, all with their own opinions. But right now, Gen Z look to be shaking up the workplace more than previous, most likely due to the other rapid changes we’ve experienced – including the pandemic and incredible advancements in technology.  

Instead of trying to force Gen Z into the moulds of what we’ve traditionally wanted, we should approach this generation with an open mind. Consider this question when approaching change: Would I want my child to work at my organisation? If the answer is no, then why? We must embrace this generation, viewing them not as opposing our beliefs but as opportunities for adaptation. Embracing all employees, but particularly Gen Z, requires a balanced leadership approach—one that moves beyond traditional management strategies.  

In this new age of business, leaders must be committed to evolving their leadership approach to meet the needs of a diverse workforce. By embracing the opinions and wants of Gen Z and cultivating an environment that values inclusivity and empowerment, we are not only future-proofing our organisation but also paving the way for a more equitable and prosperous future for all, including Gen Alpha who will likely shake up the workforce again.