How to Manage Gen Z Employees in the Biopharma Industry


Managing and recruiting Generation Z (Gen Z) employees is an important skill for any successful manager.

Gen Z includes anyone born between 1996 to 2012. There are approximately 90 million people who make up this group, compared to 80 million Millennials, Gen Z's immediate predecessors. Successfully managing Gen Z in the workplace in the life sciences sector will require managers and recruiters to know about their distinctive traits and the factors that set them apart.

Key Traits of Gen Z Employees

When trying to connect with Gen Z in the workplace, it's important to understand that this is a population that has suffered many socio-political turbulences and uncertainties.

For instance, most saw the face of a cruel and relentless pandemic as they were entering adulthood, along with the bombardments of financial instabilities. This has made the generation very realistic about their work and the companies who hire them at an early age, and the group as a whole is wary of the people who hire and lead them. 

In a survey conducted by Deloitte, only 6% of survey respondents strongly agree that their leaders are equipped to lead a multigenerational workforce effectively. This survey spanned generations and industries, and this lack of trust may only get worse as the newest generation enters the workplace. 

The differences between Gen Z and those who came before them can be seen in each generation’s pace of work, communication styles, use of technology and more. The life science industry has also undergone notable changes, and corresponding these changes with the emerging generational shift can help you pivot your leadership and recruitment strategies to thrive in the uncertain future.  

Gen Z in the Workplace

In November of 2021, Ernst and Young released its 2021 Gen Z Segmentation Study, which provided key insights about the youngest generation in the workforce. According to the study, Gen Z can be divided into five different segments in the workplace:  

  • Authentic Activists: 22%  
    • Motivated by the obligation to save the world — and the fear of what will happen if they don’t 

  • Carefree Constituents: 5%  

    • The definition of “go with the flow”; may not drive change, but will be the ones who adopt it into the mainstream 
  • Secluded Perfectionists: 20%  
    • Focused on being the best, not for money or accolades, but for the love of what they do 

  • Big Dreamers: 18%  
    • Expect to do well and make money, but aren’t necessarily willing to put in the effort 

  • Stress Strivers: 35%  
    • High achievers, driven by a fear of not being good enough 

These segments all point to the fact that Gen Z as a group puts an emphasis on enjoying their work and work environment. In the same study, it was reported that almost two-thirds of Gen Z in the workplace feel it is very or extremely important to work for an employer that shares their values. 

If you are trying to attract the Gen-Z population, you are not only competing with other competitors in the industry, but you are also competing with Gen-Z's resources, abilities and motivation to be passionate about their work.

This will impact your talent acquisition strategies and influence employee engagement strategies. Since entrepreneurship is now an option that is in demand, you will have to think of strategies that can engage and manage the group, while taking care not to alienate older employees. Below are other factors that life sciences companies need to take into consideration to attract and manage this generation.  

Attracting and Managing Gen-Z in the Workplace

The post-millennial generation has values and ideals that differ from previous generations. Managing Gen Z in the workplace requires decision-makers in the life sciences industry to recognize new patterns of behaviors and use them to their advantage.  

When it comes to communicating in the workplace, Gen-Z employees are likely to prefer face-to-face interaction rather than relying on messages or emails. Their affinity for authenticity makes personal conversations more valuable in the eyes of the newer generation. As a manager, walking over to Gen Z and conveying your concern will be more impactful in managing them rather than sending multiple emails.  

It is important to note that face-to-face communication does not have to exclude remote employees. Apps such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others can also offer the same effect. Even so, companies in the life sciences industry should also realize that the Gen Z in the workplace is one that is not only comfortable with technology but often prefers it to help complete tasks. As a business in the life sciences industry, endorsing digital advances while maintaining an authentic connection can help you manage the Gen-Z workforce.  

Defining the Workforce’s Youngest Generation 

Prioritizing equality is incredibly important for Gen Z in the workplace, as the majority of the employees believe in equal treatment. This is why a business in the life sciences industry should be careful when handling issues related to inclusion, diversity, and equity. These concerns can cause a major outrage amongst the Gen-Z population and hence, companies need to highlight their considerations for this.  

This generation of employees is also the most ethnically and racially diverse population yet. Their passion for equality and social justice enforces managers and decision-makers to set boundaries over what speech is appropriate in the workplace. Challenges for life sciences companies can therefore arise surrounding appropriate language and identifying biases.  

Gen Z in the workplace is also a population that struggles with their mental health. In a report from the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion, 45% of Gen Zers reported that their men­tal health is very good or excel­lent. This is low compared to other generations, includ­ing Mil­len­ni­als (56%), Gen Xers (51%) and Boomers (70%). The survey also found that Gen Z is 27% more likely than other generations to report their mental health as fair or poor. Considering these statistics, life science companies can benefit from putting additional resources into prioritizing mental health and wellness programs for their staff. 

Support groups and initiatives that prioritize mental health can be key to improving the leadership and decision-making qualities of this generation. Because they are by far the most aware and proactive regarding their mental health, these employees will value a company that cares about their overall well-being, as opposed to only their productivity. 

The Takeaway 

Overall, managing the Gen Z in the workplace will require life sciences companies to change the way they recruit, manage and motivate their employees. Top talents in the Gen-Z population want to not only work for monetary gain but also have an impact on the world and work for a company that shares their values. Therefore, the life sciences industry must alter their workflow according to those standards. 

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