Gen Z in the Workplace — What Managers Need to Know, with Mark Beal, Gen Z Expert

How to Lead Gen Z at Workplace with Gen Z Expert, Mark Beal

Hi everyone, it’s Jenn DeWall, and on this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast, I sat down with Gen Z expert, Mark Beal to have a conversation about how to manage generations in the workplace. Mark gives us some great insights into how to look at the newest generation coming in, Gen Z! He lets us know how to make sure that we’re getting the best out of people and we’re creating a workplace where people feel that they belong!

But before I go into the show, love You, tell you a little bit more about Mark. Mark Beal is one of the world’s leading Generation Z experts. Mark is an assistant professor of practice in the school of communication and information at Rutgers University, and he has served as a public relations practitioner and marketer for more than 25 years. Mark has authored seven books, including his most recent, ZEO: Introducing Gen Z — The New Generation of Leaders. To learn more about Mark, you can hunt on over and go to But hey, I hope you enjoy the show and the conversation as Mark and I talk about how to manage different generations in the workplace.

Meet Mark Beal, the Gen Z Expert

Jenn DeWall:  Good morning, Mark. Welcome to The Leadership Habit podcast. I’m so excited for our conversation. We are going to talk about how to manage a multi-generational workplace. And let me tell you, you recently wrote a book- ZEO – and I want you to dive into that. And our audience has heard a little bit about you, but could you go ahead and tell us about yourself, how you came to be, and tell me a little bit more about the work that you do?

Mark Beal:  Absolutely. Jenn, first of all, great to be here with you. And yes, I did just write this book that I’m really excited about! ZEO: Introducing Gen Z – The New Generation of Leaders. So currently I’ve authored four books on Gen Z I’m assistant professor at Rutgers University. They call me a professor of practice because I come from 30 plus years of public relations and marketing on the agency side in New York.

And so, you know, I’ve experienced from an employer standpoint as, as one of the managing partners of the agency, you know, managing and working and collaborating with various generations. I had that experience. But for probably, you know, from 2002, five, 2010, 2015, every assignment, every brief, every RFP we received from a client was how do we engage millennials, right? So that was the focus for many brands, especially the brands I worked with who were category leading consumer brands, whether in food, beverage, apparel, fashion, sports, whatever it might have been.

And so I left a course in after teaching at Rutgers, and I had a light bulb moment. The lip bulb moment was millennials are the focus, have been the focus. But come 2022, 23, 25 and beyond, Gen Z will become the focus, so I just started immersing myself in Generation Z six years ago. And I still have the same routine. Just like today, this morning I wake up and at around 6:00 AM I just search for any recent articles, reports, studies, surveys, and I file all that away and then use that as part of, again, articles. I write books, I write presentations that make, so every day I’m mining for the latest insights on Generation Z. And many of those insights are around Gen Z’s arrival at the workplace.

Gen Z and Their Millennial Managers

Jenn DeWall:  Yes. No, I love that. And well, it, as someone I remember, even when I came into coaching and it was, that was all the rage, the focus, right? How do we manage those pesky millennials? They are driving us bananas. They want feedback all the time. Who do they think they are? Everyone wants a trophy. I remember that. So like it was yesterday and it was not yesterday. And it’s interesting because where I sit today, it feels like Gen Z is not getting the backlash that millennials got, do you? Is that I just not seeing it?

Mark Beal:  I think you are right about that. I think you’re right about they’re, they’re, they’re not, for some reason, they’re coming in as these, and again, I I work with them closely, collaborate with them closely, you know, but they’re coming in as these entrepreneurial, you know, spirited individuals, very tech savvy, digital savvy, with a purpose, all those things. But you raise a point, I’m sure we’ll get into it later, but millennials today, after going deep and immersing myself in this multi-generational workplace, which we have today, right? Almost unprecedented from Gen Zers to boomers. What I’ve found, and what I say and what I talk about is that millennials are the critical, critical, critical, what I call bridge that bridges the newest employees, Gen Z with the leaders, Gen Xers and boomers. And that bridge has gotta be solid. And that bridge, that bridge can’t break. And so millennials are in this all important position of being that bridge.

And they’ve got a lot of pressure. They’ve got a lot of pressure on them because they’re reporting to these senior leaders who’ve been around for 30, 35, 40 years, and that’s what they report to. But they are, you know, responsible for mentoring and managing this, this new group of leaders, these Gen Zers are coming in. So right now, and I’ve talked to millennials one-on-one about this, they feel the pressure. They like the opportunity, they embrace the opportunity, but they, to me, are in the most critical position of any generation right now in the workplace. Because are that bridge from the newest Gen Zers to the Gen Xers and boomers who are, you know, leading companies.

The Multigenerational Workforce: Boomers, Gen X, Millennials & Gen Z

Jenn DeWall:  I love that. Of like them really being the bridge. So let’s level set it. Who are the generations that exist in the workforce today?

Mark Beal:  Yeah, I mean in most organizations, right? So we’ll start, right, in most organizations we’ve got boomers, Xers like me. So again, you know, your boomers and X have been working in some capacity 35, 40 years, maybe even a little bit more, right? So what I always say about boomers and Xers, and not to lump them together, but what I say, say is the value they bring in, by the way, all generations bring great value to the, to the workplace, but the value they bring is that experience. Lot of lessons learned, probably a lot of failures along way. Great successes, case studies, and tremendous professional networks of that leverage at any time for any situation, for any challenge, for any opportunity, right? They’ve got all that. And if we go the opposite of the Gen Z has none of that. <Laugh>, you, Gen Z does not have decades of experience.

Gen Z does not have vast professional networks. Gen Z does not have you lessons learned, at least extensive lessons learned and insights and successes and all that. So they don’t have that. But they do bring, again, this entrepreneurial mindset, this entrepreneurial spirit. They do bring incredible tech savviness. They do bring this, you know, social and digital media acumen. And that’s incredibly valuable course in today’s world. So they do bring all of those kinds of things. And then as we said, the millennials, again, to me, they’re that critical, critical bridge between the Gen Zers, between the Xers, between the boomers, and in essence they’re managing up and down every single day. And again, that’s where pressure is, right? You know, if you think about Gen Zers, they are managing up, they’re reporting up. It’s what they’re doing. And boomers they’re managing, they’re leading, but the millennials are smack in the middle of that. And they’re also the point in their where, you know, they’re not the new kids on the block anymore. They’ve been around now 10, 12, 13, whatever it might be, they’re also evolving their career to, they’re reaching those roles, those vice president roles and eventually replace the Xers and the boomers,

Jenn DeWall:  Right? Gosh, I think I’m just going through how old I am as well as you’re talking about that. I’m like, I’ve been in the workforce for 18 years, <laugh>, I mean, and that, and that doesn’t count my early years as a newspaper delivery person or working at the mall. But you know, there is so much that I respect, and I, and I feel that as a millennial, I think it’s, it’s an obligation in my opinion, but not in a negative way. Like I want to help Gen Z like navigate that. Or they just don’t know what they don’t know. And when I think about, even when I entered the workplace, I feel like that was starting to make that shift, right? Like I remember talking to this he had to be, I guess he probably had to be a boomer. He probably is a boomer, right?

If I’m actually thinking about that now. Sure. Yeah. And I remember talking to him and he’s like, I just don’t get it. I do not understand it. And he was an executive for the company that I worked with. He’s like, I was brought up in work you had to do because you know, you needed to get it done. You didn’t get to have fun, you needed to put your head down like this wasn’t that. And he’s like, and now I watch all of you and you want this to be fun. He’s like, and he was lovely. Like he was still just perplexed by it of like, yeah, what is going on in here? And, and I still, it was very endearing conversation, but it is true. Like I feel like the millennials came up right when there was a bigger workforce kind of shift. And I think that I just love Gen Z and I know we’re gonna dive into it because I think Gen Z is pushing it to the next level. But why is it important? Because I know that like even sometimes for me, I’m like, do, does it matter still as much to look at generations? Because should we be looking at all of the differences that we have instead of, you know, just that one. Like why is it important to understand the generations?

Why is Understanding Generational Differences Important?

Mark Beal: First of all, completely agree with you. You raise a great point, right? In this age of a prioritization on diversity inclusion, right? A sense of belonging, especially 2020 where companies start to prioritize diversity, inclusion, equity, you right? Generations and age is just one factor. One factor. There’s so many factors like the, you know, the different experience people bring, the, the different backgrounds they have. Just so many things. When we talk about diversity and inclusion, one of the areas that doesn’t get talked about too much is actually age, which is interesting. I heard that from like, you know, an Xer and a boomer where cause you hear, you know, every once in a while you hear about ageism and they say, you know, the age element doesn’t come up too often when companies are talking about this idea of DEI. And so that was an interesting insight I received too when I was kinda delving into different generations of the workplace.

Just the fact that maybe, you know, some of the older, more senior Xers and boomers are like, yeah, but should be a factor in DEI, too, right? Just as different backgrounds and all those kinds of things are. So its really interesting where we, just to go back real quick, to your point, so I’m a I’ll, I’ll admit it, I’m a 56 year old Xer, so I am on the older side of Gen X. So to your point, boomers roughly, you know, are, are, you know, right around 60 plus, right? So there are plenty of 60, 61, 60 still actively working, still actively leading companies, right? So that’s, you know, we talk boomers there. And again, I’m just using round years, you know, 60 plus, you know, then you’ve got your Xers like me in those kinda late fifties, mid fifties, early fifties, right? And then all of a, as you said, millennials believe it, they’re in their forties.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah, I’m 40. I’m not happy about it,

Mark Beal:  Why I wrote the CEO e book, but a year ago I wrote a book called Gen Z graduates to Adulthood. And the reason I wrote that was Gen Z’s last year turned 25. This year, they turned 26, which again, even in me, that’s, wow, they’re already, that sounds old to me. When just a few years ago they were all in school, you know, college, high school, middle school, elementary school. So that was another reason, kinda for the last two books is that, you know, Gen Zers, aren’t those kids anymore just in school? They’re actually the oldest, if they’re six, potentially are four, maybe five years into their career. So they’ve already gone from entry level to maybe supervisor roles or manager roles.

Gen Z Wants to Belong at Work

Jenn DeWall:  Yeah. And again, I appreciate so much about Gen Z and when I, and I appreciate that you said the age that it’s often left out of conversations on diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging. And I admit, like I was one of those people that’s like, can we not talk about generations? But even as you were saying it, my light bulb moment was no, because I have been in rooms, I absolutely can think about being in a, like I was leading an event and someone had come up, like had talked about ageism, they had recently went through, you know, like their organization was going through layoffs and they were really concerned about that. They would be the ones out. And we do have to talk about that. Or even I think of, oh gosh, I’ve even been a part of team, like, let’s call ’em team building events that were very heavily physically active and we had someone that was 75 and not active.

And you know, you think about capabilities in that regard or interest in that regard, or even just having kind of like cliques in the workplace Yeah. Where you feel like I can’t, you know, because I’m old, I can’t go over and talk to the new kids because I, you know, may not understand it or maybe it’s vice versa. And so I do, I I really just appreciate you bringing that up because you’re right, we actually really do need to be talking about that because we are going to look at things different. And we do need to make sure everyone feels that they they belong.

Mark Beal:  I love first interrupt, sorry, the B word. I love that you brought up belonging two, three times powerful, powerful world. Cause again, you could apply to a company, you get a hired guy to a company, you could say, we’ve got a job here, we’re gonna pay a salary. But ultimately you wanna like belong there. You don’t wanna feel like a cog in the machine. In like, well, I’ve got, I’m part, like you said earlier, I’m having fun. The is good. I’m having fun. If this company <laugh> it’s a belong, belong, belonging is such a powerful word. I love you brought it up. Because it’s it’s powerful and not everybody who might be included, meaning they’ve been offered a job, they work here, they still may not feel they belong. They may be included, right? Cause they’ve been offered a job, they’re getting a salary and they have an office and all that, but they may not feel that belonging.

And so I think going back to your point on we’ll call age or ageism, there’s that reverse ageism too, I think where a 21 or 22 year old may get treated like, well that person’s young. They dunno anything. Just put em in the corner. Give them a couple of tasks to do, right? They could have that feeling like, boy, being the young one here, I, you know, I don’t feel like I belong. I feel like they’re treating me like, you know, the child, because I’m the young one. So I think I can see it kind of going both ways.

Jenn DeWall:  Yeah, absolutely. Well, and it, and this is where I think we should dive into like where do leaders get it wrong or expand on that, where are leaders may be getting this wrong. Because even as you say that I can think of, I have been really, really lucky to work with, I would consider some just amazing Gen Zers. Like I have loved working with all of them. I found them extremely coachable, extremely eager to learn. And yet, and, and I embrace that. I might get a little bit, like, I’ve definitely had those times where I’m like, oh my gosh. Like, okay, all right, well let’s level set this and have that conversation. But I’ve also observed people kind of being like, yeah, you are this annoying little kid. Like go over there. And that makes me feel really bad for them because you see all this untapped potential and interest to want to learn, to, to want to connect. So let’s, let’s dive into it. Where, from your perspective, where do leaders get it wrong?

What do Leaders Get Wrong About Gen Z?

Mark Beal:  Well, I think overall, first there is no one size fits all. So to your point, even though we are all employees of whatever organization, it’s right, we all have come from, again, different backgrounds. We’re part of different life stages, different generations, all those things. So as a leader, it can’t be just a approach. Well this is gonna work for all employees, whatever the initiative, whatever the program is, right? We have to really dive into those different generations and understand where are they in their life stage? Where are they in their careers? What are those aspirations? What are those values, right? It’s fine to say that a Gen Zer has completely different mindset as it comes to work because again, they’re just starting their career compared to someone, again, I’ll say an old Gen Xer, you know, an older Gen Xer who completely different 30 plus years into my career, you know, I’ve got a different set of goals, different objectives over the next five, 10 years compared to that Gen Z.

So I think first is just understanding that there are multiple generations. They have different experiences, different backgrounds, different mindset, different objectives, different goals based on where they’re, and part of that, where they’re is, where they’re from an age standpoint. And then the second part, which we kinda talked about earlier, and I believe this wholeheartedly, and I say it all the time, every generation, every individual, no matter, you know, whatever their age, they all bring value to the workplace. Measurable value to the workplace. Again, older generations, more experience, more networks, more success, more this younger generations, more tech savvy, more maybe more entrepreneurial. And so a leader has to recognize that too. And so, again, not to promote the book, but the point of ZEO was, and I say this to companies all the time when they invite me in, you know, empower those recent hires who just started this year or next year or whatever, and empower them as what I call ZEOs.

Meaning give them an initiative, a project, a program, a challenge, an opportunity that maybe you, you’ve kinda pushed to the side cause just don’t have time to do it. Well, let them put their minds against, against it. Let them put that entrepreneurial spirit against it. Let them put their tech against it. You might be shocked at what they come back with. Meaning something that could actually help the company drive more business, be more efficient, more effective, more inclusive, more whatever. And so I think that’s the idea too, is like recognize these differences, these different generations and understand that they all bring value, but they also have different objectives, different goals, different mindset, different values, and how can we mobilize them for the greater good of the entire company?

There is No One-Size-Fits-All in Any Generation

Jenn DeWall:  Yes. I love that there’s not a one size fits all. Yes. And how can you leverage the value that they bring? And maybe this is a point to talk about what are some, some of the, and it’s again, we’re not saying cause we know that there are, are stereotypes and everyone has a lived different lived experience. Yes. But in general, you know, you gave one frame of reference that’s helpful to look at, which is what career stage is someone in, right? Yeah. Gen Z is just entering a baby boomer might be retiring or nearing retirement. What are some other indicators that might be helpful for someone to keep in mind that they’re naturally going to come to the table from a different perspective? I guess I even flip here, we haven’t even said the T word yet, which I’m so really surprised by is technology haven’t full technology. Gen Z, they’ve only ever known the internet.

Mark Beal:  <Laugh>. Exactly. You know, the great quote, which again, not mine, but I wish it was, it was from the CMO of MTV, Jacqueline Parks, GenZ is the first generation that learned to swipe before they wiped– great quote <laugh>.

Jenn DeWall:  But that’s a great way of understanding how they started their life or connection with technology. I, yeah.

Technology and Gen Z

Mark Beal:  And to your point, so technology has been in their hands since the age of two, three. They embrace technology, they, they welcome and other programs that will make conducting work whatever work it might be more efficient, more effective. Now I think we have millennials usher that in for sure. Think Gen Zs just expedited it, right? But millennials were the first who, you know, kinda put pressure on company, said, Hey, we’ve gotta get up to date with technology here. Like we’re, we’re running, you know, old stuff here. We’ve got, let’s be more faster, more efficient. This, have we tried this? Millennials always give ushered alot of these things. These like Gen Zs baton move maybe a little bit more quickly. But yeah, that’s a good one. Technology’s a great one because again,

It can be a, a divider in ways, but if a leader looks at it the right way can, it can bring people together. Cause again, again, I just myself is easiest way to do it can always point to myself as a Gen ZersI not tech savvy. I am not as embracing of technology as a Gen Zer, as maybe a millennial. So that could be an area where in the workplace I’m all a sudden you we’re introducing, I’m making it up. Some sort of new communication technology to come. Well, someone at my age might be adverse to it, might be hesitant, might be nervous, might be concerned, right? Am I able to understand this, can I work this? I may not voice that. Whereas a Gen Zer, you know, within second, this is great, this is gonna help us get work. They’re, they’re already on it. They’re already, they’ve already adopted before the company’s even it play. So you’re right, technology is a big one. The experiences and adoption of technology across generations for sure, especially in the workload.

Jenn DeWall:  Yeah. And I, I think I just, my head goes back to this one video that I had seen that was called Managing Millennials. And it was a parody video making fun of millennials. So I, I was fully here for it. Because as a millennial, I, I get the, the stereotypes and whatnot doesn’t offend me. But one of the things they talked about was they, or they, in the video it was a manager asking someone to do something and they, they said, did you do the research that I asked you to do on Bliss? And it’s like, I googled it and she was like, what? Why did you Google, why did you Google? Like, you know, and I think that, but I also, as a millennial, I am, I’m very tech inept, Mark. Like I am not very smart. And I think of even my grandma who just turned 87, hi grandma, she doesn’t listen to this, but I love you so much.

My grandma is incredibly tech savvy. She has, she loves automatic bill pay, like electronic bill pay. She’s got her Facebook account, she has her Alexa, she’s got her Kindle. She has anything that she can get her hands on to make her life easier. She just thinks technology is the coolest thing. And I say that because a lot of people assume that maybe older generations can’t or won’t or don’t have an interest. And I can tell you that my grandma can fully put you down and she’s 87 and she loves all, she does her YouTube exercises of Tai Chi every single morning. She goes on Tai Chi in does chair exercises. She loves what technology brings. Think how many doors that opened for her! Back from retirement, they both used to talk about how they had party lines growing up.

Avoid Stereotyping by Generation

Mark Beal:  Right. We can’t stereotype everybody. We can’t put everyone in the box, right? I think the other thing that you, you hit on there that bridges to an area that right now, every day I’m having conversations about this, and I think it ties into the, we’ll call it the generational differences, is work location, right? So you’ve got companies now that, again, if they’re being led by, we’ll call it boomers and Xers who are used to being in the office, used to going into the office five days a week, comfortable with being in a physical office around people are saying, we gotta get back. We need, you know, back to three days, four days, five days. I just spoke to an executive yesterday whose company back starting this month, five days a week. And her response was I bet there’s gonna be a of people leaving. So that’s, I think a huge issue now and will continue to be, cause one, this is just me.

We’re never going back to five days. That’s just me. I don’t, or if they I agree with you or they back, you’ll lose great talent. So I think there’s a generational divide there because again, not be stereotypical, but an old like me feels really comfortable commuting into the office, going into the office, spending hours and hours and hours in the office where a Gen Z said, boy, I just graduated college for two or three of those years. I was never even in the classroom. I did remotely. Right? I can do this remotely. And I had a great conversation two days who is a Gen Zer, two years into her career. And she said, what I love is that those days I don’t have to commute in. And I think she goes in two days a week. She goes, first of all, I’m not wasting an hour each commuting, messing with weather, driving, taking the train, whatever it might be, two during the course of day.

I’ve got a break, I can actually go out, walk for 30 minutes. I can’t do that in my office. And all of a sudden I come back recharged refreshed, ready to go. And I will probably do more work longer in the day now because I’ve had that opportunity. So I think is, we’re seeing little bit, especially companies of start and say, okay, we’ve been out long enough, let’s get now three days, four days, five days. Yeah. And again, I think the, the result will be you’re gonna lose great talent who’ll find other companies that are now have completely transformed and transitioned to either five days remote or, you know, we come in when we need to or whatever it might be.

Leading Gen Z and the Hybrid Workplace

Jenn DeWall:  No, I agree with you that I don’t think that we’ll ever go back to five days. I mean, there’s different reasons of why I think it’s beneficial to go into the office, mental health being one, which we should dive into that one. But I can validate what you said. I have a coaching or I have a client that is a director and they recently had forced a mandatory return to office and they did it for, even, they did it for like a, not a long period of time. They just wanted everyone in for like a two month period to work on some big work like big projects. And now they’re finding the aftermath of that, that people are leaving. And when asked, they said that was actually a big factor of why they left. And so we do have to be mindful because people have choices.

I know that we might be going into a, you know, a recession and that might change it a little bit here in the U.S. But people will absolutely vote with their flexibility. And we have to be mindful of that because there’s someone else that is willing to give that. But I do think there’s a right way. I also had someone in my, in one of my Crestcom leadership classes this week talk about how their company is doing a they’re doing like a yearlong kind of pilot of a return to office. So it’s not something that they’re like pushing right away. They’re just kind of seeing what they can do. And like ideally their goal would be to get everyone back into the office, but they’re just trying it out for a year to see what they can learn.

So it’s not this full, it’s gonna happen. It’s, we’re gonna figure this out, see what works, see what doesn’t, and find that balance and that blend, which I do think there’s a balance with it. I mean I work all the time from home and maybe I get lonely. Like today the tree people are here. Those would be the only people that I would talk to face to face. I mean, I get lonely. I like having a team and I think there’s something to be said about going into office because of mental health and because of connection and why we need that, which I’m kind of into.

Workplace Flexibility Will Soon Be the Norm

Mark Beal:  Yeah. No, I agree with you there. And then we’ll bridge to mental health. I also love test and learn, test and learn. So let’s do it and try it. You are seeing companies try the four day work week, again, 10 years now, I predict there’ll be a lot more companies doing the four day work week. I really do. So that’s one. Two, I’ve talked to some CEOs, and there’s different names for this, but one of them calls it, we offer six weeks of being a digital nomad. Which again goes back to the balance that you talked about. So digital nomad for this company is not vacation time. You’ve got your vacation, but six weeks a year you can go to your favorite mountain, your favorite beach, wherever you want, and work from there. As a company, we know you’re there working, but we also know you’re there enjoying this beautiful area that you like to go and get away from the usual.

So we also know to be respectful of your time and we’re not gonna, you know, kind of reach out to you at eight o’clock at night and say, let’s have a conference call. So I love that too. Because it’s kinda a, it’s kinda a hybrid before between my company knows I’m working, I am working, but I’m doing it at a destination where I’m getting away mentally. When the workday’s done, I can now go hike that mountain, that ocean, whatever it might be. So I heard that and I love that. And I worked that into the book too. Cause I get, to me, that goes to the point of view. It just, it’s this idea of balance, right? The balance between working remotely, collaborating in person, getting the chance to escape, go away. I, I think, and I think you just alluded to it, I agree, I work more remotely from this office than I ever worked actually in my other office, even though I put in hours and hours there.

But because you know, at 10 at night I can quickly respond to an email or send an email or do this where typically in the old days with the office, you know, once left the office that was, I’m done with the office, now I’m home. And there was transition. And actually if I ever clocked it, I think I probably put more time in now remotely. But I also get the chance, like when we get done here, I might have a chance that I can go out and go get a quick bike ride in or a run in or a walk in. And again, mentally that’ll help me get through my afternoon.

Jenn DeWall:  Yes. I mean, I can tell you for me personally, I get more done because I don’t have people to talk to.

Jenn DeWall:  True. I’m not, you know, bugging everyone. Hey, hi. You wanna check in, tell me what’s happening with your weekends? No, true. Yeah. So people are probably more productive without me in an office and I’m definitely more productive. True. Cause I’m not. And I love those things.

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Gen Z and Mental Health at Work

Jenn DeWall:  All right. Like in rounding it out, you know, mental health has been a big topic as it relates to how our workforce has really changed over the past few years. And I know the pandemic, you know, obviously like really pushed that too. But Gen Z was a big proponent of mental health. And I mean, tell me more about that. You’re, you’re an expert or you know, way more about this than I do, but I really admire what they brought in terms of getting us to finally talk about our flipping feelings that we all have or to, you know, be mindful of that.

Mark Beal: I love Jenn that you’re saying that cause that’s exactly what I, that’s exactly how I would position it too. First of all, for Gen Z, mental health is a top, top, top or the top priority and what I call goal setting area, more so than their career development, more so than their financial fitness, more so than even their physical fitness. Mental health is number one, it’s a focus. It’s an area that they want their favorite brands to actually have campaigns around to socialize it more, as you said. And so that’s number one. Number two starting with my class of 22, so last year, that was the first time that I had my students called me and said, Hey, great news. I just got the job. And guess what? They’re giving me mental health days. One a month, one a quarter, whatever it might be.

Now maybe the old days we sick days, maybe we called PTO days. We never called them mental health days last or so companies are acknowledging that too, that we all need mental health days. Obviously those companies need to carry that through. I was speaking to group of executive recruiters at a conference and they said, well what, what happens when someone takes mental health days? Well, pretty, they simply send email team hey I need a mental health day, and there should be no pushback on that, on that why you’re, when are you back. And then the follow-up question was, what do they do all day? I said, they do whatever they need to do. Maybe they sit on their couch day, maybe they go for a hundred mile bike ride. It doesn’t matter what its is, they just need time to reset, recharge, all those kinds of things. And so, to your point, I, I think one there’s a combination of things going on, I think from, I’ll call the world of celebrity.

The Evolution of Work Life Balance in the Workplace

Selena Gomez, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and others have made this a public discussion and conversation, which has great. So they’ve put a spotlight on it. Simone Biles during the Olympics, Michael Phelps always talks about mental health and Gen Z, as you said, is not afraid to discuss it, not afraid to share it. It’s important to them. So they, they also wanna make this a discussion. So I do think in 10 years, Gen Z will get a lot of the credit for making mental health less taboo, more open, more of an open dialogue. And I do think we’re gonna see a lot more companies making mental health part of advertising, marketing, social media campaigns, again, make it more open. Employers are responding already. One last point, I follow this. October is mental health day each year. This past year, 2022 was the first time I can remember that companies big on the global scale. Large corporations and small agencies of 50 people closed that day. And basically their employees take the day, take the day, you know, take the day, recharge, rest, call a timeout, whatever you have to do. Well, if we get momentum around that, and that becomes something every year plus mental health plus the chance to be a digital nomad, now we’re getting things that goes back to your, your main point. It’s offering balance. So now we’re, we’re getting that more, that work life balance that we’ve been striving for for decades and really haven’t achieved as of yet.

Jenn DeWall:  Oh my gosh. I just, I want that world. Yeah. That’s like something I am in, I have a mom who is schizophrenic. I have depression myself, and I want a world where we feel comfortable talking about mental health. Yeah. And I think that it’s, you know, anxiety, I have that as well. And I know a ton of people that have anxiety, but you know, I think that organizations are taking that first step. And I love that with the mental health day. Now we just need to equip leaders to actually talk about feelings. And I’m here for it because I, I actually empathize a lot with like baby boomers, you know, lately in my work, I feel like I’m finding older men keep coming to me for coaching because they want to talk about their emotions. Because they have not been able to talk about them before. And they’re like, I don’t know how I’ve been so successful? I, I remember one and he’s very successful. And he’s like, why the heck am I, you know, I’m 49 years old and I am struggling with this. And I think that’s because we have not yet talked about it. And I just collapsed to Gen Z collapsed that like finally giving people permission to have flipping feelings.

Mark Beal:  That’s it. You know, Jenn, we’re not there yet, but at least we’re slowly getting there. And as you said, at least the dialogue is starting. And and I always say this too, a mental health day may not solve any of this, but it’s, it’s part of this overall conversation overall mindset of mental health is really important. We have to share, talk, discuss and a mental health day just contributes to that again, bigger attempt at at doing that. And like I said, I think in a decade we’re gonna be in a much better place than we’re today. I mean, we have to be,

Leaders Can’t Have Blinders On When it Comes to the Transformation of Work

Jenn DeWall:  Oh my gosh, I just love that world. I’ve loved all the changes. And I know that we have to wrap, but I wanna keep talking about this. Any final thoughts on, you know, tips about how to, you know, bridge those generational gaps? I know that you talked about it’s not a one size fits all, it’s understanding the value. Anything in closing that you feel like you missed that would be beneficial to our audience?

Mark Beal:  I would just say, I guess, you know, every, I gotta be careful what I say here, but I think everybody, you know, everybody is a leader within the workplace. Some may be leader by years of service, by age, by what they’ve accomplished, all those kinds of things. But I guess we all need to be open-minded, which I think is one of the themes of this conversation to each other. To, to our values, our mindsets, our goals, our objectives, right? We, I guess better word, we just can’t put the blinders on. And leaders, specifically leaders who have the title of leaders, the C-suite, they really can’t have the blinders on. They have to be openminded open to write everything to all generations in the workplace because you said it. And I think 2020 is like the, the line in the sand. We’ve, the workplace has changed drastically since 2020. We’re not going back to a lot of things and we’re only moving forward. And so leaders, to me it’s gotta be about transformation and innovation. Now as far as the workplace employees, your colleagues, all those kinds of things,

Jenn DeWall:  I love that you just said the transformation and putting that on the C-suites. Because I think that the shift when I entered the workforce, if I didn’t like it, it was like, well bye Jenn, you go have a great career. And today if they don’t like what a leader’s doing, they’re like, bye, have a great company. I’m gonna go to someone else. That is so feel that power shift. And so I think accountability looks different in today’s workplace.

Mark Beal:  Yeah. Raise power shifted significantly since 2020. We saw it first come to fruition through the great resignation, and I think that was flag better word. I think that was actually great. Because now the employees had the power and as you said, so long, I’ve got another place I’m gonna go where I’m be in a better position, whatever might be. And that also is not going away. Maybe we don’t have the great resignation now anymore. We don’t call that anymore. But I agree with you. The employee is in power now and let’s hope they continue to be in power.

Jenn DeWall:  Oh my gosh, there Mark again, I could have, I wanted to, I wanna continue this conversation in 25 different ways, but I know that we can’t, so if people want to continue the conversation with you, how can they best get in contact with you?

Where to Find More from Mark Beal

Mark Beal:  Yeah, absolutely. So again, all my, you know, from a book perspective, including z all the books are on Amazon, so easy to find. My website is and if they go there, you know, my email, my contact is there. But also all my you know, media articles, speeches, I’ve done all those great things and always available, always interested, always eager to, to have these kind of conversations.

Jenn DeWall:  Yes. And you’re, I mean, I’ve worked with you a few times. You’re one, you’re one of Crestcom’s new subject matter experts. We’re so excited to have you in our curriculum. And I can tell you from working, you know, to our audience, from working with Mark, he is incredibly passionate, incredibly knowledgeable. You’re a fantastic speaker. You’d be an asset to anyone that is wanting to further or have these conversations of understanding the generations in the workplace. So Mark Beal Speaks, check him out. Mark, thank you for coming on the show.

Mark Beal:  Jenn, thank you very much. I love our discussion.

Thank You for Listening to The Leadership Habit

Jenn DeWall:  Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast with Mark. I loved our conversation. Mark is actually one of our newest Subject Matter Experts in Crestcom’s leadership curriculum, talking about how to build generational connections. He is someone that is just so well versed in this. And if you want to learn more about him, you can go to and there you can find Mark’s latest book, ZEO: Introducing Gen Z— The New Generation of Leaders. And you can also purchase his other books. And of course you can find him at

If you want to develop your team, if you want to see Mark’s class! If you want to learn more about how to give your leaders, whether it’s Gen Z or baby boomers or Gen X or millennials, you want to learn how to give them the best tools that they need to succeed, head on over to There you can find out about our free complimentary monthly webinars. You can also find out more about our complimentary two hour skills workshop and learn more about what Crestcom does to create a world of better leaders. If you enjoyed this episode, share it. And we would also love a review on your favorite podcast streaming platform. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time, have a great day everyone.