Career Advice

The Value of Mentorship: Engaging with Younger Colleagues

Workplaces are more successful when they are diverse. While this is true regarding race and culture, age is just as important. As Zoomers, also commonly referred to as Generation Z (ages 12 – 27), begin to enter the workforce, seasoned professionals should take every opportunity to engage with this new generation of workers and seize the chance to enrich the workplace. 

This blog will explore the value of mentorship, including what skills and outlooks Generation Z workers bring with them and how cross-generational mentorship can be beneficial to everyone involved.

The Value of Mentorship: Engaging with Younger Colleagues

What Gen Z’ers Bring to the Workplace

Unlike Millennials who can remember when they had to get off the phone to use the internet, Gen Z has never known a time when the internet wasn’t a normal part of their existence. This is even how Generation Z got their name – from being able to constantly “zoom” the internet! 

As such, one of the skills they bring to the workplace is a keen knowledge of the internet and how to maximize social media, especially regarding how it has and will continue to evolve. 

For example, if you were to ask an employee 10 years ago if social media would be leading the charge for business conversions, they might have been laughed out the door. However, Gen Z’ers have their finger on the pulse of what’s trending since they consume so much digital media; for example, they can tell you that, in 2024, long-form video content reigns supreme. This trend has first been spotted on TikTok and is making the rounds on other video-based platforms like Instagram. 

As seasoned professionals, you are often wearing many other hats so there may not be enough time or resources available to research up-and-coming social media trends. However, for the incoming workforce generation, this knowledge doesn’t come from research, but from their real-life consumer habits. Simply put, taking advantage of younger employees’ proclivity for social media is the best way to conduct in-house market research. 

This is just one of the many contributions younger colleagues bring to the workplace. Both Millennials (those aged 28 – 43) and Gen Z prefer digital forms of customer support and interaction – i.e. emails over phone calls, etc. They also both favor authenticity, so those hard sales pitches? They’re a thing of the past! 

However, unlike Millennials, Generation Z workers are more career-driven. Maybe this is because they haven’t entered family life yet like Millennials, but this is incredibly valuable for seasoned employees to know. After all, when is there a better time to offer valuable mentorship than to a population that is ready and willing to learn? 


How You Can Connect With Younger Employees 

As a seasoned professional, you can’t just begin a mentoring relationship with your younger employees. A respectful work relationship and supportive company culture have to be nurtured first. This is done by establishing a connection with incoming staff. Here are some tips that can help you connect with your younger employees: 


Be Flexible 

While today’s younger workforce is certainly career-driven, they are also more aware of their mental health than any other generation. This focus on mental health and overall well-being is rapidly changing the workforce and seasoned professionals have to be flexible and go along with the ride. Examples include hybrid schedules, offering unlimited PTO, or allowing employees to work on their own schedule, as long as they meet deadlines. 

Simply put, long gone are the days of making work your personality. Today’s workers want their work to be important, but not their entire identity. As such, offering flexible work schedules, arrangements, and outlooks can go a long way in maintaining employee loyalty and boosting overall morale. 


Don’t Micromanage

While you might have the best intentions when you check an employee’s work or instruct them to do a task the same way you would, actions like these can actually backfire. 

When you micromanage an employee’s work, you might think you’re doing it to ensure accuracy or be more efficient, but to the employee, it comes across as distrusting. If you hire a new employee and train them thoroughly, you should also trust them to do the job correctly.

While it’s okay to offer insight, remember, that because younger employees are often more tech-savvy, they may attack a task differently than you. That doesn’t mean, however, they’re being any less efficient. At the end of the day, employees who feel like they are in control of their performance at work, tend to be more productive. 


Encourage Open Dialogue 

This last one is important, because, as the American Psychological Association points out, giving employees a voice about things like workload, working hours, and performance can increase productivity and make them feel more valued. 

This isn’t just true at work but in life. When people feel out of control, they experience more stress and less satisfaction. Give your younger employees a voice and make them part of the conversation. 


Benefits of Engaging With Younger Staff

If you utilize the strategies above to establish a connection with your younger staff, you won’t just be able to mentor them better, but you and the company will experience several notable benefits such as: 


Development of Future Leaders

By making younger employees a part of the conversation, you’re simultaneously helping to develop the future leaders, not just of your company, but of tomorrow. 

Mentoring employees to develop their skills gives them the confidence they need to feel like their experiences and perspectives matter. Most of all, seasoned professionals can help develop the leaders of tomorrow by leading by example. By offering flexibility and open communication, you teach a valuable lesson to future leaders to do the same and create more opportunities, diverse workforces, and improved company culture. 


Career Opportunities 

In the same vein as developing future leaders, mentorship can also lead to increased career opportunities because employees who feel valued and are primed for success will want to stay with the company to pursue future opportunities. 

There’s a misconception that younger employees want to use jobs as a stepping stone, but if you cultivate an environment that is dependent on their success, why would they want to go anywhere else? 


More Efficient Workflows

Because younger employees tend to be plugged in digitally, they may be able to help seasoned professionals develop more efficient workflows and processes. This could be through various means such as automated platforms that minimize “busy work” to focus on more important tasks. 


Better Work-Life Balance

Last but not least, seasoned professionals may learn to have a better work-life balance when they engage with younger staff. Whereas many seasoned professionals, notably those in Gen X and older developed a work ethic that puts their nose to the grindstone, younger generations realize the mental and physical benefits of striking a balance between work responsibilities and their personal lives. This could lead to more family time, less stress, and better overall health for you. All three can make you a better, more focused worker, too. 


Cross-Generational Mentorship is a Two-Way Street

Sure, so far we’ve highlighted the benefits of engaging with younger staff, but don’t get us wrong…there are plenty of benefits younger employees will glean when they engage with seasoned professionals like yourself.  

Whereas their expertise may stem from the “digiverse,” yours is stemming from years of working within an industry that you have seen (with your own eyes) evolve and change over time. Here are the top benefits that younger workers will glean when they engage with seasoned professionals: 


A Chance to Develop In-Depth Skills 

The greatest value the younger generation gleans from engaging with older staff is that they get an opportunity to develop their skills. This is true for every industry, including but not limited to business, retail, hospitality, medical, marketing, and more. 

Younger staff can develop technical skills, such as how to utilize certain platforms, increase sales, and create products, but they can also develop their communication skills with all levels of management, customer service, and a variety of soft skills, as well. All of these help build a well-rounded employee. 


Builds Responsibility

Another benefit younger employees receive from cross-generational mentorship is how to become more responsible. If seasoned employees could look back on how they acted or spoke when they first entered the workforce, they’d probably have a lot of regrets. The reality is that this is true for every generation, because the older you get, the more you learn and the more your perspective changes. 

With mentorship and example, younger generations can get a jump start in understanding how they should act within the workplace, what’s acceptable, the consequences of failing to meet deadlines or saying something out of turn, and how to become more accountable for their actions – good, bad, and indifferent. 

The Value of Mentorship: Engaging with Younger Colleagues

The Value of Engaging With and Mentoring Younger Staff Can’t be Overstated

At the end of the day, cross-generational mentorship can help allow seasoned employees to share what they know and for younger generations to develop skills that will lead to their continued and future success. It’s a win-win for both workers and the company.