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The Secret to Working with Gen Z

What are some characteristics of Gen Z?

Gen Z is the youngest generation joining the workplace and stepping into entry-level roles.Contrary to popular belief, Gen Zers believe in working hard, as long as they’re working for apurpose.

What is Gen Z looking for in the workplace?

The three main things Gen Zers want are an empowering work culture, growth potential, andpersonal coworker relationships. Gen Zers desire the opportunity to have their voices heard.They want a seat at the table! They look for mentors to help them learn their industries andnavigate their roles well. Gen Z also doesn’t want their work to just be work. They want to feelconnected to their coworkers in (at least) a hybrid setting. These younger workers valuefacetime in their workplace.

How can I lead Gen Z well?

Create an environment where Gen Zers feel comfortable and encouraged to speak up. Allowthem the permission to make mistakes and help them learn from those mistakes when they do.Pay attention to the culture of your workplace. Is it positive or negative? Are interpersonalrelationships championed? Conduct an honest audit and consider what changes you need tomake.

Podcast episode link:

Sean: Welcome to the Branding Blueprint Podcast, where we give you the tools you need tobuild an unforgettable brand and walk through the chaos of building a business in real time as ithappens here at Craftsman Creative. Today I have the pleasure of speaking with AshleyGerman. Ashley is our brand coordinator here at Craftsman, and we're gonna be talking aboutworking with Gen Z, a topic that is terribly frightening for business owners all over the country,but also I wanna talk about how it's an opportunity to really serve that generation well and givethem what they're looking for.

Hey, Ashley, how's it going?

Ashley: Good! Hi, Sean. How are you?

Sean: Doing really well. I've really enjoyed having all of our team members on the podcastrecently. And little does everybody know, but you are the one who's responsible for coordinatingthis effort all the time, so thank you for that. I think it's turning out great. At least that's whatpeople tell me.

Ashley: Aw, yeah. I'm so glad. I have a lot of fun doing it, so I'm glad to do it.

Sean: Cool. And now you're on the mic this time.

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Sean: Yeah, no pressure. Everybody, just as a quick intro– Ashley and I have had some reallygreat conversations about future generations and what they're looking for in a workplace.

And also what is the potential influence of Gen Z specifically on the workplace in the coming,you know, months and years. And of course we'll probably be talking about Generation Alphabefore we know it, but. In the meantime, I feel I find myself interviewing a lot of Gen Zcandidates a lot, you included.

And it's, it's just really fun for me to talk about. So Ashley, why don't you give me a little bit ofbackground on you as a Gen Zer and career journey so far, and maybe use that as a segue tokind of hop into the topic for today.

Ashley: Yeah, for sure.

So I am a Gen Zer obviously. I just recently graduated college a year ago. And so I've been in avariety of internships. I had my first big girl job out of college last year, and then I made thetransition to Craftsman about two months ago. So I've been interviewing for, I wanna say whatfeels like the last three years and been into different workplaces and trying to figure out how tonavigate that as a young person.

And I think a lot of people have preconceived notions about Gen Z and that could be prettynegative, that we're lazy or we have way too high of expectations, which I will say we do havehigh expectations, but I don't think that means that we're lazy or we just expect to do the bareminimum and get by with it.

So, I just like being able to share that that is not all true and that we are hard workers and we'reforced to be reckoned with in the workplace. And one day we're gonna run it and I hopeeveryone's ready for us.

Sean: Totally. One day, probably more soon than all of us realize, I think.

I actually was just thinking as you were talking, I had like this, like, I don't know if I'll call it a dejavu moment, but we'll go with it. Like, maybe 10 years ago or maybe eight years ago, I was like,they had like this huge conference or, you know, like workshop or something. And it was likehow to work with millennials, which probably sounds so stupid to you cuz you're like millennials–those people are old.

Ashley: Yeah. That's funny.

Sean: And it's, it's so funny to me that we now find ourselves talking about Gen Z as such apresent reality cuz I remember the way that that felt not too long ago was how I, like a lot of usfeel about, you know, the generation after yours.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Sean: And, you know, before you know it, you know, I think this is just a normal part of corporatelife and being in business you are going to just inevitably have to shift and change so often. Butit's really important to also make sure that you're giving individualized attention to eachgeneration. Right. So, you know, the same way that I was at that conference talking about, I waslike a millennial, like hiding in the corner, like, please don't look at me. Meanwhile people arelike, are you 12? But now we're finding ourselves in Gen Z. And really you know, there's uniquequalities of that generation that we need to pay attention to. Mm-hmm. What are those uniquequalities from your, from your perspective? Like, what makes Gen Zers stay at a job?

Ashley: Yeah. So the current trends that we're seeing right now of what makes Gen Zers we'reseeing, like–

Sean: You're like, what I'm seeing about myself whenever I think about it, I have my pulse on it.

Ashley: There we go. So the three main reasons why Gen Zers are staying at jobs is becausethere's first an empowering work culture, growth potential, and then there is personal coworkerrelationships. So these are three of the most important things that Gen Zers are looking for, andthis totally encapsulates what Gen Z stands for and what we're looking for. Not just at aworkplace, but out of life in general.

Ashley: There we go. So the three main reasons why Gen Zers are staying at jobs is becausethere's first an empowering work culture, growth potential, and then there is personal coworkerrelationships. So these are three of the most important things that Gen Zers are looking for, andthis totally encapsulates what Gen Z stands for and what we're looking for. Not just at aworkplace, but out of life in general.

And we know that it's not the end of the world when it happens.

Sean: Hmm. And I think that goes back to what you were saying about having an empoweringwork culture. I think on the surface, whenever you say, you know, a Gen Z, somebody who's apart of that generation, really wants to be empowered. I think on the surface that might appearas though they might, that they want to be encouraged. But I think it goes quite a bit deeperthan that. Empowerment is very different than encouragement in that it challenges. And I havenoticed about you as well as others that I have worked with in other jobs and in this job fromyour generation that you. And I, of course, every, every, there's some generalities that you wouldsay about each generation that might not be true about everybody, but for the most part, I thinkit really speaks to a core truth.

And that is that you want the opportunity to be challenged. You don't want to just be put in aroom and to learn by osmosis. You want to learn by being steeped in something in a way thatalmost you're not even ready for it yet. And so I think that that really speaks to that first point.

Ashley: Exactly. And. This kind of goes into what I'm gonna touch on later, but Gen Z reallylooks for purpose.

Ashley: Exactly. And. This kind of goes into what I'm gonna touch on later, but Gen Z reallylooks for purpose.

Sean: Hmm. Talk me through how you, like, you know, if it, since purpose matters so much toyou, now I'm using this as like an actual insight session, but, what, talk to me about yourpersonal purpose. Just as an individual. And then connect that to Craftsman for me.

Just pretend like you're talking to me, because I think that that would give really great insightinto like, you know how a real life Gen Z employee who's a high achiever, by the way, way to goyou know, how you really perceive your purpose and connect it to a company environment. So,you know, how would you answer a question like that?

Ashley: I think…

Sean: You're like I have to think on the spot? You're going off script, Sean.

Ashley: I was like, Sean, this isn't on the outline. Just kidding. My personal purpose is to helpgive voices to those that don't necessarily have voices. And I kind of have a little bit of humor inthat, in that I'm a very talkative, outgoing person and I always like to take or take specialattention to people that don't necessarily have that talent or it's not where they excel the most.And that connects to Craftsman because at Craftsman we focus on medium sized to smallbrands. And I love that because big companies and big brands are going to have the resourcesto have very high quality content where the smaller businesses– they may not have theresources or they may not have the knowledge of where to find that. And I think that's extremelyimportant of what Craftsman does because everyone deserves to have a well thought outbrand, and everyone deserves to have great content, and everyone's business deserves togrow.

And that's why I love Craftsman so much is because I can see my personal purpose shiningthrough the work that we do here.

Sean: Hmm. I think that's, well, really fun for me to hear, and I think it really connects to, youknow, not just our clients, and correct me if I'm wrong here, but we've been talking a lotinternally about our purpose as a team as it relates to not just client service, but also, you know,running a business. All of us, I view all of us as leaders in this, by the way

Running a business together and seeking out a profitable business at that. And then talkingabout how to use that profit for good. Really like tangibly. You know, I, I think that that also canbe something under consideration. Be kind of beyond that, like surface level, like we serve our,we serve our clients and like, because of the types of clients we serve, like those are the likeyou're giving the, the voice to the, the people who don't necessarily have it at the moment.

Like that's so meaningful. And then even taking it steps further into the agency at a high level interms of, you know, what, what are we actually trying to achieve at the end of the day? And, youknow, what is our legacy and what does, what does it actually look like in terms of havingpurpose on multiple levels, not just one.

You know, I've seen you kind of in, in meetings where we've talked about that and explored that,and frankly, we're still in the midst of it. You know, kind of perk up and really add value in termsof, Letting your voice be heard in regards to that, which really speaks to the fact that you havepurpose, a pretty clearly defined purpose.

And and you wanna speak into the company's purpose, and, and you're in a place where wewelcome that. And I'm proud that we've created that, frankly. I think it's, it's something that a lotof people appreciate, but especially people like you.

Ashley: Yeah, I agree. I think it's a great environment to be a part of, and especially being soyoung and being new to the workforce, having an environment in which I feel comfortablespeaking up and sharing my ideas. I think that's super important. And not just at Craftsman, butI think other companies that do that too, they're gonna have more success with their Gen Zemployees than companies that don't do that.

Sean: Mm-hmm. Totally. All right. So you know, let's, let's go down this list some more talkingabout, um, Growth potential and talking about having really great relationships with coworkers.You know, connect, connect the dots for me in terms of those things that you care about andyou know, what your experience is like at Craftsman.

And maybe even not just your experience, but the people that you are just naturally hanging outwith after hours. And, and, you know, you're, you're, you go and you say, oh my gosh, my job'sthe best. And then, other people are like, my job's terrible. Or maybe they think it's the best too,but dive into some of that because, you know, there's only so many people we can really gleanwisdom from on, on this particular topic

And I think you're really positioned to add some value here.

Ashley: Yeah. So, like I said, Growth potential is extremely important to us. Gen Zers, and notjust professional growth, but also personal growth. We're always looking for ways to improveourselves, and maybe reading self-help books. Like we love TikTok. We're always looking athow to improve your morning routine and things like that. But even your relationships withpeople. And I think a way that Craftsman does that is by implementing the personality test. And Iknow in the past two months I've learned way more about myself than I probably have in the lastdecade.

And that's a pretty transformational decade. Just of how I work and how I interact with people.And I think a lot of the times we look at how we work and we focus on what we can improve on.And while that's important, it's also extremely important to focus on what you're already good atand to capitalize off of that and figure out, okay, I'm good at this.

How can I incorporate that into my daily work and how can I help my coworkers who might notexcel at that like I do? And I think that's extremely important for us Gen Zers, because like Isaid, we're young, we don't really know what we're doing. We're like little baby deers. Our legsbarely work yet in the workforce.

Sean: That's a pretty cute metaphor. I like that.

Ashley: Yeah, I'm glad. So we're figuring that out and not only does that help personally, it helpsme, my personal relationships, but it also helps me with my relationships at work. Which leadsme into my next point of relationships.

I think mentorship is huge for Gen Z.

I think having someone to use as an example in a workplace is incredibly important. I know Ican specifically look up to Mackinley. She started in my position, she was a brand coordinatorand now she's a brand manager. And I can look to her, and I can ask her for advice becausewhatever I'm going through, she's been through before. And having that kind of security blanketmakes me feel so much better coming into work every day because I know that I have someonethat's going to help me no matter what, and I can learn from her and I can implement what shedoes into my daily life here.

And then just trust. Like I, I trust everyone at Craftsman a lot, and I know I can speak my mind. Iknow I can come to anyone with a thought and I'll be listened to, and I know that they trust metoo. And that's incredibly important because that's a huge responsibility for Gen Z because Ikeep saying this, we're so young, we're brand new, and we haven't really built that trust yet

We haven't built the trust that we can get the job done. And so being able to develop that withnot only yourself, but with your coworkers and know that you can rely on them is huge.

Sean: Definitely. Thanks for adding so much you know, insight into you know, your generation.And it's so it's so interesting for me, you know, I've been spending a lot of time on the phone,like I mentioned in interviews and stuff.

It took me quite a few interviews to find you. So I'm glad I was patient. And it's, it's, it's reallyhelpful for me, even as I was reading this outline and thinking about our, we even had aconversation about staffing earlier this morning, and we were talking about you know, potentiallyadditional hires at at your level in which I probably am gonna end up talking to a lot more GenZers and, and that process and, and frankly, so will you and so will the rest of our brandmanagement team.

And so these types of insights are really helpful for us in that regard. But I also know that there'sother practical ways that making sure that Gen Z is really just that we're showing that we'relearning about that generation as business owners and leaders, and that we're actually doingsomething about it.

It's one thing to sit here and listen to a podcast about Gen Zers and, you know, maybe the titlecaught your attention and now you're listening to this and, and learning. But it's a totally notherthing to go out and actually do something about it. And we want to equip you, listener, toactually go out and do something about it.

So Ashley, why don't you walk us through your three step plan for some things that we couldactually end up doing in response to this info.

Ashley: Yeah, so Sean, like you said at the beginning of this podcast, thinking about hiring GenZ and having a Gen Z based workforce is scary, because it's new.

But there are three ways that are actually really simple that you can make sure that you'recreating a Gen Z friendly workplace and creating an environment in which they can succeed.

And the first one is to embrace technology. So Gen Z, we grew up in the digital age, andtechnology actually enhances our productivity. So making sure that you're staying up to datewith the newest softwares, the newest platforms you can use. Like for example, we use Later forsocial media planning. Maybe one day a brand new platform would come out that would totallybe better.

Sean: Or like every day

Ashley: Or, yeah, every day. Every day a new platform comes out.

So just making sure that you have a pulse on that. And even AI, that's extremely important.That's gonna transform how we work. And me using AI has already transformed my productivity.So just making sure you're keeping a pulse on those things. And even asking your Gen Zcoworkers, what's happening in the world.

Like what's going on? Like what do you think we could implement to make it better? Is extremelyimportant too.

Sean: The way I think about it is that as a business owner, cuz I, I play a different role in thebusiness than you.

Although sometimes I think that what you do is so much more valuable. But whenever I,whenever I think about it, it's almost like you have, if you have Gen Z employees in yourbusiness, you essentially have a mini focus group on current culture built into your business.

And the only difference between somebody who is thriving in this regard and really struggling issomebody who's willing to intentionally take advantage of the resources that already exist. Andso I, I hope that you notice, and I'm sure, I'm sure you do, I probably ask you too manyquestions, but I am like, just obnoxiously curious with my younger employees because I thinkthat they present an opportunity to– You know, those moments whenever there's like a, a thirdparty and you like bring them into a situation and they say something, you're like, wow, that'slike, yeah, exactly what I've been thinking all along.

Well, I, I view, you know, you and also some other younger team members on our team as beingthat for us, as being that gut check for this is what's going on in the world and we're blind to it ina lot of regards. You know, I guess I'm, I'm an old man I guess now.

Well, I, I view, you know, you and also some other younger team members on our team as beingthat for us, as being that gut check for this is what's going on in the world and we're blind to it ina lot of regards. You know, I guess I'm, I'm an old man I guess now.

Sean: So you know, just think about the fact that you have some built-in resources there.

Ashley: Yeah, that's great. Use Gen Z as your litmus test. And then the second one is consider ahybrid working environment.

Gen Z actually prefers hybrid over remote, and that I think correlates directly to Gen Z.Prioritizing personal coworker relationships. If you're working only remote, you're not gonnahave the opportunity to build those relationships or even have a mentor. You might incorporatethat, but it's probably gonna be more difficult if you're not having face-to-face time.

So consider a hybrid working environment. I think it would definitely be worth it if it's possible.

Sean: Yeah. The… I hear all the time there's either people who feel like they need to be on theleft of this argument or the right, or the black or the white. And I really do think that it's animportant insight in that like a lot of times people are making decisions about remote work orin-office work based off of you know, younger employees.

Oh, I feel pressured by my younger employees to have a remote, like to have a remoteexclusive work environment

Or, you know, may sometimes in few occasions, it might be the opposite, but most of the timeit's kind of like, we need to move to remote or something like that. And I think it's really insightfulto think about the fact that you actually really appreciate those days that we have in the office,but then also like you really love, you know, wearing your sweats and sitting on the couch anddialing in. Noty that you would ever do so on a client meeting, at least not on camera. Butdefinitely I've seen how a hybrid environment is, it's not, it's not just something that makes youhappier, but it actually makes us more productive as a team. Right?

Ashley: And also it relates back to balance of that's what Gen Z is looking for. And so havinghybrid, you can go in the office and you can work remotely. So you have the best of both worlds.

Sean: Yeah, that's great. All right. Give us that, the last zinger, if you will.

Ashley: All right, so the last one is what we've already focused on a little bit, but to make surethat you're emphasizing purpose and impact in your work, and ways that you can do this is byimplementing a mission statement, having a list of values.

But it goes more than just writing those words down and having them on your website. It'sactually implementing them into what you do every day. So I know here at Craftsman, we talkabout our values and our mission statement all the time. Every Monday morning meeting wetalk about it, and we have a really good conversation about it.

And even in our one-on-ones, we always try and check in on how we're gauging with our values.And that's been extremely helpful for me. And like I talked about before, it's really led andconnected with my purpose, my own personal purpose. And so I think it would be reallyimportant to make sure that you're not just having those words, just to have words, but you'reactually putting meaning behind it.

Sean: Yeah, I, I find myself once again, from, from my seat, feeling often a little guilty slashfoolish about encouraging my team to really lean into purpose.

And like, like for example, like I'll say, Hey guys, what, can somebody remind me what ourpurpose is here? And like the whole team is kind of like, eye-rolls around. Oh my gosh, heregoes Sean again.

But, one thing I've learned is to, as the leader, be able to get over that initial reaction and tounderstand the core truth. And that is that our team appreciates the fact that our business haspurpose. And if we, get, you know, sidetracked by that initial kind of, you know reaction from theteam whenever that that eye roll happens or whatever, you can really find yourself in a, in apredicament where your business is not actually, maybe you had purpose once, but It's anactive practice that takes practice and our team does a really good job of, of doing that. Even inmoments where I feel foolish, I've really tried to be diligent about continually pushing it. And it'shelpful to hear that that's coming through.

Ashley: Yeah, I love it. It's great. Don't stop it. Even with the eye rolls.

Sean: Well, this is such a fun conversation per usual. I'm really impressed. Specifically, and I'msure all of our listeners will too, in your confidence and in what you're bringing to the table everyday for our clients. Anybody who works with you is lucky.

That's definitely for certain. And especially even regards to this conversation you've added valueonce again. we're excited to continually pour into you so that you can pour into us and ourclients. So thanks for being here.

Ashley: Aw, thanks Sean. Anytime.

Sean: Well, if anybody wants to speak to my Gen Z expert, Ashley, just let her know.

Cuz that's a much more direct path than coming to me. If you would like to talk to me aboutmarketing or strategy or building a really great brand and maybe even how, attracting Gen Ztalent comes into the mix. I'd love to talk with you. Follow along with us on Instagram atCraftsman dot Creative.

Go to our website,, or subscribe to this podcast. Thanks.