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Managing Gen Z in the Workplace as a Leader in the Life Sciences Industry

Posted on October 2023

2 women in lab coats analysing data

​Set to account for 27% of the global workforce by 2025, Generation Z is a force to be reckoned with. The generation born between 1997 and 2012 is known for passionate individualism, enjoying both collaboration and fierce competition, having an affinity with technology in the life sciences workplace, and admirable pragmatism.

However, according to 74% of managers and business leaders who participated in a recent survey, Gen Z is more difficult to work with than any other generation. In this article, EPM Scientific explores how leaders can effectively manage Gen Z in the life sciences industry.

What are the different generations in today’s workforce?

The different generations in today’s life sciences workforce include Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y/Millennials, and Gen Z, and each bring unique qualities and characteristics to the workforce:

Baby Boomers:

  • Born 1946-1964

  • Disciplined, focused, strong work ethic

Generation X:

  • Born 1965-1980

  • Entrepreneurial, independent, value work-life balance


  • Born 1981-1996

  • Confident, tech-savvy, value work-life balance

Generation Z:

  • Born 1997-2012

  • Competitive, entrepreneurial, independent

Understanding Gen Z employees

Understanding Gen Z employees is key to managing them effectively in the workplace. While the following characteristics don’t apply to all members of the generation, they’re common enough to mention.

  • Gen Z employees are known for:

  • Individualism and collaboration

  • Being highly motivated by competition

  • Preferring in-person to online communication

  • Seeing technology as a powerful work ally

  • Expecting authenticity and transparency from leaders and coworkers

  • Requiring more feedback than other generations

  • Being pragmatic and practical

Effective communication with Gen Z

75% of Gen Z respondents in a recent survey said they prefer to receive managerial feedback in person and in real time. To communicate effectively with Gen Z employees in the life sciences industry, remember:

  • Gen Z values collaboration and appreciates others’ perspectives shared in regular team meetings.

  • This generation expects and values open and honest communication.

  • Effective communication should include regular and constructive feedback.

  • Equality and knowledge-sharing should be evident in communications.

  • Gen Z appreciates bite-sized content and video content.

Leadership styles that resonate with Gen Z

Some leadership styles resonate with Gen Z more than others. The leadership approaches that best align with this demographic’s values include:

  • Coaching leadership: This style appeals to Gen Z’s strong desire for personal and professional development in life sciences through on-the-job training and mentorship.

  • Democratic leadership: Gen Z values inclusivity and open communication, as well as the consideration and appreciation of their opinions that come with this leadership approach.

  • Transformational leadership: Gen Z wants leaders who are forward-thinking, inspiring, evoke enthusiasm, and challenge them to succeed.

Motivating Gen Z employees

Knowing how to motivate Gen Z employees in the workplace is another key aspect of managing them effectively as a leader in the life sciences industry. This generation’s strongest motivations include:

  • Having a sense of autonomy and ownership of their work

  • Projects aligned with their values and passions

  • Gamification of goals and tasks

  • Task rotation and variety

  • Flexibility

  • Regular feedback and progress updates

  • Teamwork, open communication, and the active seeking of their input

  • Collaborative cross-functional projects

  • A healthy work-life balance

Conflict resolution strategies with Gen Z team members

The 74% of managers and business leaders who said Gen Z is more difficult to work with than other generations also reported that different attitudes to work were a common cause of conflict between older managers and younger workers. Life sciences industry managers can struggle to align their expectations with younger colleagues’ performance styles. An effective conflict resolution strategy with Gen Z and team members of other generations should include:

  • Understanding different work styles

  • Consideration of different generational values

  • Sharing of perceptions

  • Finding generationally appropriate solutions

  • Finding common ground between the different generations

  • Managing expectations

  • Learning from each other

Grow and retain your team with EPM Scientific

All generations offer different strengths and perspectives, bringing benefits to your organization. Whichever generation of talent you are looking to hire for your life sciences company, we can match you with the right professionals when you need them. Grow and retain your team by partnering with EPM Scientific – submit a vacancy or request a call back.

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