Indiana Lee
Written by
Indiana Lee

This is a guest post by Indiana Lee, Freelance Technical Writer at Indiana Lee Writes.

As people enter and age out of the workforce, your employee demographic changes over time. With the majority of your staff currently being in the age 18-42 bracket, generations Y (Millennials) and Z have a significant impact on your company’s continued success.

It’s important to recognize why the age of workers is among the main factors that can influence company culture. Each generation prioritizes different aspects of working life. Understanding and adjusting to these generational priorities is key to retaining workers and encouraging them to innovate. In particular, it’s vital to know what they expect from the managers and executives they collaborate with.

We’re going to take a closer look at some of the things Gen Y and Z employees want from leadership.

Fair Pay

Salary is not the be-all-end-all of the employee experience. But this doesn’t mean that leaders’ approach to pay isn’t an important factor. Gen Y and Gen Z are acutely aware of the financial challenges they face. Indeed, a widespread business culture of underpaying has been instrumental in influencing the Great Resignation. These generations of workers know what they’re worth and are willing to walk out if they feel disrespected.

As such, Gen Y and Gen Z employees want leaders who are willing to treat them as talent worthy of investment. This is not just about bringing entry-level pay up to living wage standards. It’s about paying employees salaries reflective of their work and commitment. Leaders need to commit to compensation that helps employees achieve a good quality of life. Businesses must also make paths for advancement available so workers can build financial security and invest in assets like homes and savings accounts.

Comprehensive Benefits

Salary is not the only form of employee compensation. A comprehensive package of benefits is a way for companies to show they care about improving workers’ quality of life. Gen Z and Gen Y are looking for leaders who provide a competitive range of benefits appropriate to the unique needs of their cohort.

This begins with retirement savings. Around a quarter of Gen Zers and Millennials believe they won’t be able to rely on Social Security when they retire. As such, 401(k) plans with generous contribution matching can be attractive. Employer-sponsored tuition can also be a way for leaders to support the growth of workers from marginalized socioeconomic backgrounds. Paid time off and parental leave must also be a feature, as these generations prioritize maintaining a good work-life balance.

A Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

Gens Y and Z are among the most socially progressive generations. They have a deep understanding of and concern for the challenges faced by those from traditionally marginalized backgrounds. They also value relationships with colleagues of different cultures and life experiences. As such, they tend to prioritize working with leaders who show a commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce.

This begins with creating a welcoming workplace and culture for everyone. This includes establishing protocols to mitigate the presence of prejudice and microaggressions. Workplaces should also have accessibility solutions not just for employees with mobility challenges but also for those with neurodivergent traits. 

Importantly, diversity and inclusivity can’t be limited to entry-level workers. These generations want to see equality and access in all areas of the organization. As such, leaders must arrange recruitment and development initiatives to take this into account.

Sustainability Initiatives

Environmental awareness is not a new concept. However, Gen Y and Z workers are particularly concerned about the impact of climate change. They’re involved in forms of environmental activism and treat the matter with the urgency it demands. These workers want leaders who are proactive in implementing effective environmentally-friendly practices.

There is a significant range of sustainability initiatives that save companies money and are practical to implement. This could include committing to paperless processes and reducing energy consumption. It should also involve responsible waste management and recycling activities.

To really jive with Gens Y and Z, though, leaders need to go above and beyond the basics. They must partner only with suppliers maintaining strict sustainability protocols. Companies also need to commit to working with the community to tackle climate change on a wider basis.

Flexible Working Practices

Work satisfaction is important to Gen Z and Millennials. They know they can be most productive and innovative when they’re provided with the right working conditions. The upshot of this is these generations want leadership who are open to adopting more flexible working practices.

One of the few positive aspects of the pandemic is that it has highlighted how accessible and beneficial flexible working can be for most organizations. Remote and hybrid operations mean workers can adopt a schedule suited to their needs. It’s also a way for leaders to communicate that they trust their workers and want to provide employees with a good work-life balance.

Compassionate Management

For decades, business leaders have generally treated employees as expendable resources. This led to a tendency for management to prioritize the needs of the company at the expense of worker wellbeing. While Gens Y and Gen Z workers understand that companies have commercial goals, they also expect more consideration for employee welfare. In essence, they want leadership to demonstrate more compassion.

At the most basic, this means managers need to demonstrate high ethical standards in their treatment of workers. It also involves taking the time to check in with employees about their needs and personal challenges. Leadership needs to be more open to flexibility when workers need time off for education, mental health days, and to attend to family duties.


As Gens Y and Z make up an increasing majority of the workforce, leaders must adapt accordingly. For the most part, the priorities of these employees revolve around fair, inclusive, and compassionate treatment. They want businesses to show they recognize the challenges these generations face. By working to understand and show appreciation for employees, leaders can encourage more meaningful and positive collaborations.


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