What exactly does that mean?
Well, stan is easy enough to define: it’s slang for a zealous fan of a person or thing, or the act of being such a fan. Empathy, though, is tougher to nail down. Everyone wants to be empathic. It’s a buzzword right now that you can find on Instagram infographics, blogs across the internet, and on many organizations’ home pages. But it isn’t something that Gen Z employees are experiencing as often as they are told about it.
Why Gen Z values empathy in the workplace.
Only slightly more than half of Gen Zers surveyed in this year’s State of Workplace Empathy Study said they believe U.S. employers are empathetic.
So, if Gen Zers aren’t seeing workplace empathy very often, how can they feel so strongly about it?
So strongly, that 75% of Gen Z in this year’s study said they’d choose an empathetic employer, even if it meant changing their job, industry, or career path.
As a member of Gen Z, I can try to explain from my perspective why workplace empathy is so important to us and what it looks like in action.
So, how can employers make empathy actionable? Or, how can you go from putting yourself in Gen Z’s shoes to helping us walk in our own?
Be our benefits mentors.
For starters, think about Gen Z’s experience with employee benefits. Many of us have little experience with benefits because we’ve always been dependents under someone else's coverage. Even the oldest members of Gen Z, born in 1997, are still eligible as dependents on medical plans for a few more years. But it isn’t too early for us to start learning about benefits—and employers are the best people to teach us so that we can hit the ground running when we age out of dependent eligibility for our parents’ coverage.
When I joined Businessolver in 2019, I knew next to nothing about benefits. At 20 years old, I was lucky enough to learn about benefits on the job. Had I not worked at Businessolver, I’d most likely know very little about benefits because I’m still covered by my parents’ insurance. Not everyone works in the benefits industry and gets a chance to educate themselves as they work.
And because of that lack of experience, Gen Z needs help navigating these new waters. With many benefit choices available, tools like MyChoice® Recommendation Engine can help guide younger, inexperienced employees to the best selections for them. The tool considers things like risk aversion, overall health, and benefits knowledge to create a personalized set of recommendations from the options available to them. After all, 54% of Gen Z’ers have some confusion about benefits, but we still understand their value.
Giving your Gen Z employees the tools they need to make the right decisions is one way to show them that you considered their situation from your perspective. And being able to see and understand someone else’s perspective is really the root of empathy.
Embrace, not eyeroll, our tech-savviness.
When organizations think about other potential tools, keep in mind that Gen Zers are digital natives. Many of us are used to engaging with data and information via our smartphones. The best way to drive engagement among this generation is to cater your benefits experience to our preferred communication channels. By giving us an integrated, easy-to-use, and intuitive way to select and act on our benefits, you’ll make it much easier for us to play an active role in our benefits experience.
Being digital natives, Gen Z wants to do their research before making decisions. When we applied for college, we read reviews peers had for the university we were interested in. We also accessed its website to find out why it would be a good fit for us as individuals while comparing it to other schools on the fly. Tools that offer rapid comparison and guidance are a great way to show you’re thinking about your Gen Z employees empathetically.
Besides benefits tools, we also want benefits education. Something Carla Harris alluded to in her session at this year’s Vision event is that Gen Z is made up of lifelong learners who expect to have far more job changes than previous generations. If we are going to have different jobs for many organizations, we need to have a deep understanding of benefits and how they work. Not just how one tool works.
To be empathetic, employers need to understand this fact and come to terms with it. By educating their Gen Z employees beyond teaching them to use their tools or specific system, employers show they are committed to helping them become benefits savvy. Education can come in many ways, but with Gen Z it’s best to present the content in digital, and quickly digestible ways. This type of content resembles what we are used to seeing in our everyday lives and will drive the most engagement among Gen Zers.
Now that we’ve broached how to empathetically help your Gen Z employees through their new benefits experiences, let’s talk about how you can show Gen Z you’re the right company for them.
Did you know that 77% of Gen Z say that empathetic work environments happen when companies recruit diverse and inclusive people?
Why do you think that is?
For one, Gen Z is more racially diverse than the generations before us. Gen Z wants to see a diverse workforce that reflects the classrooms and world we’ve grown up in.
Gen Zers understand more than most employees that when a workforce is made up of different people with different perspectives, it forces everyone to consider things in a way they wouldn’t have had they been a part of a more homogeneous group.
Diversity among your workforce helps minorities, or more fittingly, the global majority, feel more seen and understood. If someone steps out of line and says something racist or sexist or uses a micro-aggression, having a diverse group of people enables others to stand up and initiate a potentially uncomfortable conversation because they know that their team has their back and understands where they are coming from. They won’t feel as isolated or singled out as they would with a less diverse team.
Showing workplace empathy is the best way to recruit and retain Gen Z employees. Check out our new infographic to learn how being progressive and adaptive shows Gen Z you’re serious about workplace empathy. And for a more in-depth look, check out our 2021 Empathy study.