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

Raven Baker, 28, shares that she often feels the pressure to keep up with her peers due to social media's influence. As the social and community lead at the creative agency Adolescent Content, her role is demanding and high-pressure. "However, I refuse to let this pressure affect those I manage," she told Business Insider. "My management style is based on respect."

 Baker exemplifies a Gen Z leader who prioritizes her team's mental health and work-life balance, setting new productivity standards. Unlike many Gen X and boomer managers who may cause friction with younger staff, or millennials who try to be the “cool boss” but find the emotional transparency of Gen Z puzzling, Zoomer managers talking to BI were eager to listen to their employees and implement changes. 

Their main focus is on improving the workplace and ending a cycle of criticism. Early in her career, Baker experienced poor treatment from leaders and managers. "I never want to be the kind of leader who causes someone to doubt themselves," she said. "I will always foster an environment where hierarchy does not excuse verbal disrespect."  

Raven Baker
Raven Baker. Raven Baker

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

He said he was bullied at school and knows the effect a negative environment can have on people.

"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 also "totally see the benefits of remote work."

Early in his career, Hodgson learned that 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 a culture of "open dialogue" 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."

Oliver Hodgson
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 that he learns from friends about their employers and 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 work 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."

Sam Winsbury
Sam Winsbury. Daniel Hambury

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

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

"As a startup, 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."

Jessie Urvater
Jessie Urvater. Jessie Urvater

Michelle Enjoli, a career-development speaker and coach, told Business Insider that fostering a psychologically safe work environment is essential for creating a great company culture, and Generation Z's priorities align well with this. Zoomers, as they are known, are shaping the world, Enjoli said, and they are emphasizing the benefits of transparency, good communication, and clear direction.

Enjoli explained that many workers she speaks with in more traditional workplaces feel they spend unnecessary energy "having to monitor their opinions and hiding their concerns or mistakes," which can lead 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," she said.

While many companies with Gen Z bosses are still young, and it is not yet clear if they will succeed in the long term or if their management practices are sustainable, Enjoli believes Zoomers' focus on mental health and employee development is a positive trend. One management style might work in one industry but fail in another, and hyperfocus on mental health in the workplace may be difficult to scale in some instances. Additionally, Gen Z bosses are relatively young, and their own management styles might change during their careers.

Despite these potential challenges, many Zoomer bosses believe their age can be a superpower. Winsbury, a Gen Z boss, 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 about how a company should operate."

Winsbury acknowledged that fellow Gen Zers can be frustrating to work with because they have been conditioned to be impatient. However, he hopes that by investing in his staff and giving them a clear path for progression, he can avoid 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, another Gen Z boss, said that while Gen Zers "get a bad name" for being work-shy, 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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