If you watched any of the ‘2020’ Olympics you may have drawn the same conclusion that I did… the world has really changed. I am not referring to adjusting for Covid, I am speaking about humans – more specifically humans in their mid 20’s and younger… Gen-Z.

how to improve your company culture to attract gen-z workers

For 17 days the Gen-Z athetes showed us raw emotion, spoke up regarding social activism and mental health, and their feelings along with their athletic ability were on full display. It was also fascinating to watch these athletes of any given sport supporting each other as a community. They weren’t there as competitors at the Olympics, someone would win today, someone would win tomorrow. They were all just happy to be there with their friends and be part of the experience.

As a Gen-Xer, I watched the games in horror. WHERE was the killer’s instinct? WHY wasn’t winning everything – at the Olympics no less? Two athletes agreed to SHARE a gold medal instead of fight to the death??? WHAT WAS GOING ON?? 

I did a few breathing exercises and came to the realization that the Olympics were providing a master class in Gen-Z whispering. My time on the couch inspired these thoughts to share about teamwork and compassion. Company Culture is a top priority for this group, and we NEED them to work with us and ensure there is a literal future for print.

Building the Team

Everyone has a part to play in the success of a team. Make sure all members understand how their part contributes to the whole, and especially to the win. Underappreciated employees won’t be self-motivated to step up, but they may be motivated to step out and find another job.

Celebrating Along the Way

After almost every play, no matter if it resulted in a point, the volleyball players huddle up and hug and share ‘good job’ pats as athletes often do. It’s motivating. It says we are a unit and while we don’t always win, we are in this together, and everyone in this huddle did their part to contribute to our performance. YAY! Consider a weekly employee shout-out and for bigger contributions a bigger reward. Whatever works for you.

Checking In

Mental health is not something most Gen-Xers grew up discussing. We were taught to suck it up and keep it moving. That is no longer workable. No matter what age, Covid has added stress, grief, and fear to our personal and professional lives. Check in with employees, co-workers, and friends and investigate your options for providing or referring help if needed. Gen-Z is not afraid to say they need help, but offering it and letting them know it’s available if they need it makes them feel comfortable. That is key to Gen-Z employee retention.

Championing a Cause

The Gen-Z athletes took unprecedented public stands on Team uniforms this year. Bikini bottoms and revealing leotards with specific requirements for how they fit are mandated uniforms for women, while men have free choice within ‘shorts and a T-shirt’ to develop their uniforms. This was BIG NEWS. The objectification of female athletes was not going to be tolerated. Unfortunately, the Olympic Committee fined the women who covered themselves up as a response. That did not deter the athletes from protesting by wearing unitards and speaking about the situation.

Does your company take a stand on social issues? Support your community? Charities? Gen-Z wants to feel good about being part of a team that gives back to the world. They rally together through causes. Including the causes you support in job descriptions would be something to consider.

Running the Race

While watching some of the running, cycling, and rowing events there were times when I found it hard to figure out who was leading the race. With track and field, they stagger start. The indoor bike racers can lap the pack, and the rowers always appear to be going forward and backward at the same time.

What I took away from this was literal – stay in your lane. It doesn’t matter what is happening next to you or in front of you or behind you. All the training is done, your team has provided support along the way, now it’s about execution and finishing strong – not winning.

I know. It’s hard for me to swallow, too. Gen-Xer’s are win-focused. But then I remembered for every quote about winning there is one about the importance of how you play the game. That is what counts now; it’s the key to attracting Gen-Z and cultivating a company culture that is worthy of a gold medal.

More posts from Deborah


DeborahCorn-PrintMediaCentrDeborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse™ at Print Media Centr, a Print Buyerologist™, industry speaker and blogger, host of Podcasts from The Printerverse, the cultivator of Print Production Professionals the #1 print group on LinkedIn, Girl #1 at GirlsWhoPrint, host of #PrintChat every Wednesday at 4 PM ET on Twitter, the founder of International Print Day and the founder of #ProjectPeacock. She is the recipient of several industry honors including the 2016 Girls Who Print Girlie Award and sits on the board of The Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi and is on the Advisory Board for the Advertising Production Club of NYC.

Deborah has 25+ years of experience working in advertising as a Print Producer. She currently provides printspiration and resources to print and marketing professionals through PMC and works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers, and industry organizations helping them create meaningful relationships with customers, and achieve success with their sales, social media, and content marketing endeavors.

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