How Gen Z’s Spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Employees have made it loud and clear that what it took to attract and keep them in the past is not what it will take to engage them going forward. The Great Resignation continues at a consistent clip and job hopping has never been so popular, especially among the Gen Z crowd who were born after 1997.

Because we know people are people first with any other identifier being a distant second, the clamor we hear of employees asking to be respectfully treated like human beings, should come as no surprise. Those leaders who are the most successful at currently keeping their top talent, conduct a “How do you spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T?” conversation with each of their employees to clarify what actions and behaviors will demonstrate their definition of the word.


When it comes to having a Respect conversation with your Gen Z people, here are 3 tips to build upon:

  1. Gen Z values the way their individual work matters to the team’s success. They prefer to organically learn from each other. Set up online learning pods and collaboration sites where they can share their experiences and expertise with each other in a variety of areas. They want to be individually respected for making a positive impact to the team.

  2. Gen Z spells R-E-S-P-E-C-T with F-L-E-X-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y. “Just do quality work and deliver it on time” is one of the most prized messages Gen Z is seeking from employers today. Organizations that place a higher priority on the need for control versus keeping the best people are learning this one the hard way. Work processes can always be up for improvement. Invite and respect the input of the people doing the job for ways to reinvent how it may get done.

  3. Gen Z wants opportunities and encouragement to develop. They are constantly evolving, growing, and learning. Organizations that offer ongoing product training, leadership development programs, and cross-functional opportunities are among those with the highest retention rates. One company I recently worked with set up a very successful video series of “How to Get Into” topics. Each business department created a short video of what their department did, what they look for in a candidate, and ways employees who may be interested in that area could be supported and encouraged from within.

Take some time and get to know how each of your Gen Z’s define R-E-S-P-E-C-T before it turns into I Q-U-I-T!


Merrylue Martin is the author of The Big Quit Survival Guide. The book describes how to retain your best people, how to wow the best new hires and deal with the challenges of remote and hybrid workers, and gives you access over 30 printable Survival Tactics to immediately act upon!

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