Just when it seemed as if conversations about Millennials in the workplace were calming down…here comes Gen Z!

The Census Bureau estimates there will be a higher percentage of Gen Z in the office than Baby Boomers by the end of 2024, with more than 17 million Gen Z’ers collecting a paycheck. They have different working styles, and thinking styles, that may mystify older generations, but can bring the office immense value. Especially in the logistics field, when fresh minds are needed to keep businesses ahead of compounding supply chain complexities, Gen Z’s perspective can unlock critical innovation.

If you’re looking to hire (and retain) Gen Z, here are three strategies to make your youngest employees feel trusted and valued – and set your company up for long-term success.

Embrace the digital-native approach

We often talk about millennials as the generation raised on technology – but as children of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, many still remember a time before the internet was available in every household. Gen Z is the first true digital native generation. They were raised in a time of rapid innovation, and are therefore comfortable with exploring new technologies, and finding the best way to leverage them.

Gen Z came along at the perfect time for the logistics field. Automation is now key to daily operations, humans and robots work side by side on the warehouse and factory floors, and gamification has become an increasingly popular way to improve productivity. Gen Z’s ability to latch on to new concepts, and uncover new pathways to efficiency, means they’ll be able to quickly grasp how to manage robotic automation and play a key role in its implementation.

As you bring Gen Z on board, don’t let their inexperience fool you – their exposure to technology has, in some ways, been early training for their careers. Give them opportunities to participate in selection processes for new vendors, and task them with determining how different solutions would fare within your unique facilities. Their insights will be invaluable for supply chain modernization.

Show, don’t tell

A side effect of Gen Z growing up with technology at their fingertips – an inability to accept “I don’t know.” Easy access to the internet meant an answer was just seconds away, and schools began building this reality into their curriculum. They’re visual learners, raised with video as a primary form of communication, and enjoy getting hands-on with a concept. Those learning habits extend into the workplace, and Gen Z isn’t satisfied with the answer “that’s just how we’ve always done it.” They’re going to ask “why,” and that’s a conversation leaders must get comfortable with.

Logistics is a perfect field for an inquisitive generation, because we’re in the middle of a massive digital transformation. Give your younger office team members an opportunity to get acquainted with your company’s warehouse, factory and/or and delivery operations. Job shadowing and ride alongs are a great opportunity for younger employees to get a feel for others’ roles within the organization, learn from their experience, and to even look for ways processes might be improved.

In addition, if your company has instituted a hybrid policy, make every effort to get Gen Z employees into meetings when they’re in the office – they’ll learn far more about workplace dynamics and successful project management by watching it happen in person than participating remotely. Take time to debrief younger employees post-meeting, answering any questions they have about to-dos and gathering their observations.

Think outside the paycheck

Yes, this title is a little misleading – Gen Z is looking for a paycheck that aligns with the value they bring to the business. In fact, they’re more open than other generations when it comes to discussing salaries with co-workers. However, Gen Z isn’t interested in pushing papers just to make a living. They want to understand how the work your company does – and their role in particular – plays a part in making the world a better place, and they want benefits that recognize they have lives outside the workplace (sorry, pizza and air hockey tables aren’t going to cut it).

If your company doesn’t have a defined purpose, now’s a great time to begin that process. As part of a supply chain, logistics-focused businesses play a key role in keeping the world moving – getting food and supplies on shelves, critical components to manufacturers, and medicines to pharmacies and hospitals. The supply chain is also responsible for much of the world’s carbon emissions, and therefore has a great opportunity to help slow climate change. It’s a great responsibility, which makes the field an easy area for Gen Z employees to understand how their work impacts their neighbors.

Putting your purpose in writing not only demonstrates to customers and investors your operating tenets beyond driving profit, but also makes it easier for Gen Z to see themselves growing in their role.

A happier workplace for all

We’re quickly moving to a digital economy, and the automation/AI technologies driving it are introducing massive workplace disruptions – logistics professionals must constantly adjust operations to keep up with these new innovations. The good news: Gen Z knows how to thrive with these new technologies, because they were born into them. When we approach people management by valuing the whole person – giving them flexibility, mentorship and the benefits to improve both their personal and professional lives – we demonstrate a desire to innovate that will appeal to Gen Z while your company reaps the benefits of their experience.