These Gen Z managers are doing things very differently — and it seems to be paying off

microsoft, these gen z managers are doing things very differently — and it seems to be paying off

Gen Z bosses want to make their priorities about work-life balance and mental health the norm (stock image) Pekic/Getty Images

  • Gen Z bosses tend to prioritize a work-life balance and a desire to make the world of work better.
  • Many encourage mental health days and flexible work hours.
  • Young leaders believe respect and open dialogue create a better work culture and efficiency.

Raven Baker, 28, admits she often feels she's falling behind her peers due to the constant pressure of social media.

As the social and community lead at the creative agency Adolescent Content, her role is high-pressured and demanding.

"However, I refuse to project that pressure onto those who report to me," she told Business Insider. "My approach to managing is rooted in respect."

Baker is an example of a Gen Z boss who is setting a new standard for productivity by prioritizing her team's mental health and work-life balance.

Unlike Gen X and boomer managers, who can cause friction with younger staff, or millennials, who strive to be the cool boss but are also baffled by how much Gen Z talks about their feelings, Zoomer managers appear to be keen to hear from their employees and make changes.

At the heart of their prime concerns is the desire to improve the workplace for those who enter it and end a negative cycle of criticism at work.

Ending bad work cycles

Early in her career, leaders and managers spoke to Baker "terribly," she said.

"I never want to be the kind of leader who's the catalyst for someone's inner monologue shifting from 'I am capable, I have great ideas' to 'Am I capable? Am I good enough?'" she said. "I will always maintain an environment where hierarchy does not justify verbal disrespect."

microsoft, these gen z managers are doing things very differently — and it seems to be paying off

Raven Baker. Raven Baker

Oliver Hodgson, now 20, dropped out of school at 16 with no qualifications and went on to found his creative comms company, Platinum Live.

He was bullied at school and knows the impact a negative environment can have.

"So I will stick up for my colleagues no matter what," he said.

Mental health is paramount

Hodgson never had a job before starting his own company, so he's very "pro-office," he said. Though he can "totally see the benefits of remote work."

Early in his career, Hodgson learned everyone is different, and he's constantly learning from his employees — the majority of whom are older than him.

The biggest priority for Hodgson is his employees' mental health.

The company encourages staff to take mental health days when they need them and promotes an "open dialogue" culture so people feel they can talk about their struggles and well-being.

"I don't want people coming to work and getting excited for 4 p.m. when they leave," Hodgson said. "I want to foster an environment where everybody excels, and we don't just excel and deliver for clients, but we upskill and we look after ourselves."

Hodgson also doesn't want anyone in his company to feel like "steam engines" that are "just plowing out work" and "forgetting we're human."

microsoft, these gen z managers are doing things very differently — and it seems to be paying off

Oliver Hodgson. Darren Robinson

High standards with well-being

Sam Winsbury, 24, started building his personal branding agency Kurogo in 2020 and has rapidly grown his company to 19 staff.

Like Hodgson, Winsbury never worked for anyone else and has never even been to a job interview.

Instead, he told BI he learns from friends about their employers and also takes advice from his own team members.

"A lot of the perks and benefits and policies we have are built by the team anyway," he said. "It's just a case of listening to other people and hearing what they want because ultimately it's for them, it's not for me. So they're the best people to guide on what the policies and perks should look like."

Winsbury said he has "high standards" regarding his employees' well-being. He doesn't expect them to respond to clients outside business hours, and the company has a flexible policy, so staff can start earlier and finish earlier if they wish to.

"We're also constantly pushing our team to make sure that they are having a life outside of work," Winsbury said. "We actively encourage people to do things outside of work and to make sure they have clear boundaries."

microsoft, these gen z managers are doing things very differently — and it seems to be paying off

Sam Winsbury. Daniel Hambury

Jessie Urvater, who is 25, is the founder of the sober dating platform Club Pillar.

She told BI open communication, a healthy work-life balance, and the "psychological safety" of her employees are her main priorities.

"I believe it's essential for team members to feel heard and valued, so I encourage an environment where feedback is welcomed, and diverse perspectives are respected," she said.

Margot Adams, 26, co-owner and head of marketing and sales at the clothing brand Luxeire, told BI she grew up in a time of rapidly advancing technology, and the way she runs her company reflects that.

"As a start-up, we are constantly testing out new ideas, so I give people a lot of creative liberties," she said. "A comfortable and fulfilling workplace not only boosts confidence but also enhances productivity and innovation, which is essential in today's world, particularly for Gen Z."

microsoft, these gen z managers are doing things very differently — and it seems to be paying off

Jessie Urvater. Jessie Urvater

Michelle Enjoli, a career development speaker and coach, told BI that fostering a psychologically safe working environment is essential for creating a great culture, and Gen Z's priorities line up well with this.

Zoomers are shaping the world, Enjoli said, and emphasizing the benefits of transparency, good communication, and clear direction.

Many staff she speaks with in more traditional workplaces feel they spend unnecessary energy "having to monitor their opinions and hiding their concerns or mistakes," which leads to stress and anxiety.

"When a boss prioritizes mental health and the career growth of their employees, it allows them to repurpose their energy into more productive activities," Enjoli said.

No preconceived notions

For many Zoomer bosses, their age can be a superpower.

Winsbury said that although he's made mistakes and that people can be unpredictable, he can generally avoid most problems by being flexible.

"I've not been biased by my previous experience," he said. "I don't have any preconceived notions around how a company should operate."

Fellow Gen Zers, he said, can be frustrating to work with because they have been conditioned to be impatient. But he hopes by investing in his staff and giving them a clear path for progression, he can avoid them job-hopping too much.

"We're a generation that wants things instantly — food, dopamine, rewards, literally everything," he said. "Which is even more of a reason why we need to make sure we have a pathway for people moving forward so that we don't lose them to an opportunity that they think is going to get them somewhere faster."

Hodgson said Gen Zers "get a bad name" for being work-shy, but he doesn't think that's the whole story.

"I think there's a pocket of really powerful Gen Zers, and they really want to make the world a better place," he said

"I'm certainly one of them, and I want to control my own destiny."

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