Has there ever been a generation that hasn’t rolled its eyes at its insipid and overly demanding elders? Or who has not, later, sighed over the inaction and ignorance of young people? And yet, endless jokes aside, the problem of older managers facing younger staff can be very real in the world of work.

Now that Generation Z (generally defined as those born between 1997 and 2012) has begun to enter the workforce in large numbers, questions are becoming more pressing about how to integrate this new age group. happily and productively in existing teams – a task that can be particularly challenging for small creative businesses. So AD PRO decided to interview a handful of industry leaders and pass on their recommendations for managing Gen Z in the workplace.

Admit the need for change

“One of the hardest things for our customers – owners in their 40s, 50s and 60s – is adapting to the kind of work environment we have now, which is the new generation and their way of working,” says Gail Doby, co-founder (along with her partner Erin Weir) of Pearl Collective, a Denver-based coaching and consulting firm specifically for interior designers.

Business managers who are baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) or members of Generation X (birth years 1965-1980) are generally heirs to the tradition of “pay your dues and do what we tells you until you’ve learned the ropes”. of learning – which, while they are pressured to change their modus operandi for the comfort of junior team members, can make them feel like older children whose younger siblings are not held at the same level. But, Doby warns, the needs and motivations of Gen Z workers are legitimately different, and so maintaining harmony in the workplace will require an openness to new ways of doing things.

use your imagination

“They’re more interested in quality of life,” says Cecil Adams, vice president and creative director at lighting maker Currey & Company, of recent hires in his department. “We were all cash, cash, cash and willing to work five million hours for it; they want to have a different life than their parents, who just worked for stuff.

For this reason, creatively revamping your schedules, benefits, supervisory style — and even your company structure — can be key to keeping Gen Z content alive.

Boston designer Tiffany LeBlanc decided to be “forward thinking about what we could offer” as other colleagues in their twenties joined her team. “We have become very flexible in terms of free time, even in addition to vacations. If their work is complete and they can complete their projects, additional time off is acceptable. There’s an implicit market involved, of course: “We can do it, but you have to produce at a high level,” she adds. Such an arrangement “is built on trust,” says Weir of Pearl Collective. “You need to have your culture identified and nailed down when dealing with flexible hours” – which can also include variable hours and working outside the office – “in a positive way”.

Other perks can also be tailored to please without breaking the bank. Doby notes that it’s “not always as important to have financial compensation because it’s a mix of the right kinds of benefits.” For example, “In a place like Aspen, lift tickets can be a good part of a package. If you need a health benefit, maybe a stipend instead of a comprehensive insurance policy will make sense for small businesses.

Focus on progress

“The younger generation wants to be valued and feel part of something moving forward,” says LeBlanc. As a result, she found herself “adapting our approach to structure” in the studio. “It’s not so much a hierarchy, where we dictate to the project managers, but more participatory, more back and forth.” She began to “sleep at different levels of management. I don’t need to manage everyone. I try to give them opportunities to show their own abilities.