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Gen Z Agencies Agency Culture

Gen Z needs to better advocate for itself in the workplace

By Sarah Jenkins, Partner and executive vice president

The Romans

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The Drum Network article

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April 2, 2024 | 5 min read

Young recruits need to find their voice, says Sarah Jenkins of The Romans. Here's how they can turn their ick into action.

A silhouette of a young person holding a megaphone against a white background

Clients want those working for them to have a confident voice, says Sarah Jenkins / Patrick Fore via Unsplash

As an agency within the creative industry, a lot of our team is gen Z. Obviously, they’re the most talked about generation of the moment – sorry fellow millennials, we’re no longer the favorites and haven’t been for some time now. But while gen Z sets new standards for work/life balance, and have created a buzz about boundaries, etc., one thing I often find this cohort struggles with is advocating for themselves and their needs in the workplace.

Ironic, I know. This is the generation that’s digitally native, shares on social media, and love to BeReal – but not too real. But when it comes to their professional lives, I often find they struggle to define what they need to be successful, and more specifically, how to advocate for themselves. They somehow lose their voice.

Which all makes sense if you think about it, given that many of them started careers in Covid, and have limited IRL experience in an office. The majority of their time out in the real working world often has been limited to Zoom calls where it’s hard (but not impossible, mind) to develop in-depth colleague relationships that make them feel connected, supported, and most importantly, confident.

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Speak up, don't shy away

Let’s face it, in an entry-level position, it’s easy to hide in digital meetings and stick strictly to what’s expected of you. Many gen Zers will go through the motions without developing a firm POV on things. But, in the business of communication, an informed POV and developed voice with which to share that perspective is everything. Your clients expect you to convince them, and they expect you to convince consumers that their brand is important, worth it, and valuable. Having a voice isn’t an option, it's mandatory.

Gen Zers often seem to know that they don’t like something, but then they don’t really seem to know why – or what to do about it.

So, how can we as leaders help? A tip I’ve found helpful when coaching is to lean into ‘see it, say it, sorted.‘ Ask them to keep a running list throughout the day of things that piss them off, things they find inconvenient, things that might just rub them up the wrong way. Then we work together to identify how we can overcome those things moving forward.

See it, say it, sorted

As an example: ‘I can’t stand when X holds up approving Y.‘ Okay, then we’ve identified that the process isn’t working as effectively as it should and we can refine it to make it smoother and more efficient. ‘This client or partner isn’t responding to me.‘ Got it, so let’s figure out the best ways to do a follow-up or implement more streamlined communication. Is it switching up the subject of your emails to be more action-driven? Is it (*gasp*), picking up the phone to follow up?

Working together, you can help them identify the problem (‘see it‘), verbalize what it is that bugs them (‘say it‘), and then develop a plan to have it not continue moving forward, through creative solutions or help from peers (‘sorted‘).

It’s shaping negative daily occurrences into positives through self-advocacy. And that’s my hope for gen Z. That they can all find their voices and continue to be loud. Never, ever back down from sharing insights, because the industry and the world need fresh ideas – and consistent voices to offer input.

Gen Z Agencies Agency Culture

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The Romans

We’re bored of boring PR. Founded in 2015 and backed by advertising agency Mother, our team has worked with some of the world’s most exciting brands and created...

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