Who is Generation Z?
Generation Z consists of people born between 1995 and 2010. They’re often characterized as the most diverse, technologically advanced and educated generation yet. The internet was widespread when Gen Z was born, meaning technology shapes how they learn, play, grow and communicate. Many expect to receive information quickly and can be used to a more diverse and progressive lifestyle than past generations.
Millennials vs. Generation Z
Millennials (also known as Generation Y) come right before Generation Z, from 1981 to 1994. Key differences between millennials and Generation Z include:
- Level of technological understanding: While millennials have been exposed to technology for a significant portion of their life, Generation Z uses technology more often in their education and learning environment. Many will regularly have access to tablets and other electronic devices in schools more than any other generation. This means that their learning styles often differ greatly from millennials.
- Degree of success: Generation Z will grow up watching some millennials employees achieve financial success at a young age. This encourages more Generation Zs to repeat this.
- Expectation of a diverse culture: Since millennials are often passionate about making the world more diverse, Generation Z will likely grow up adapting these principles.
Things to consider when recruiting and hiring Generation Z
Generation Z will have expectations for their role that differ more than any other generation. They will have adapted to a more diverse, technologically savvy and value-driven lifestyle, which they will expect to reflect in their work-life as well. Consider these elements when recruiting or hiring Gen Z candidates:
Exposure to technology
Since Generation Z grew up with exposure to advanced technology, they’ll expect it in their work life. Recruiting these future employees will entail finding and communicating with them through their social media and job search platforms. They’ll also want to know how technologically advanced your business is so they can have a more streamlined and seamless structure to complete work more efficiently.
Understanding of which brands they want to work for
Generation Z has instant access to an abundance of information about individuals and organizations, so they will expect your business to have a strong online social media presence. Expect them to research your business to learn more about your values and mission. They see popular brands online at a young age, so they typically build brand loyalty and know the types of companies they want to work for by the time they reach the workforce.
Desire for inclusivity and diversity
By the time all of Generation Z reaches the workplace, most of them will enjoy being part of a diverse and inclusive work experience. Many of them expect to see a diverse workforce, including at the executive level. If they notice your business doesn’t have a diverse and inclusive company culture, they may prefer to work at one that better demonstrates these values.
Interest in quick communication
Since they’re used to immediately finding information online, most employees expect quick communication. Most will typically prefer companies that use instant messaging software to efficiently communicate so they can quickly return to their work.
How to prepare for Generation Z’s arrival
Though some Gen Zers have already entered the workforce, all of Generation Z won’t reach the workforce for a while, so it’s important to prepare your workplace ahead of time since some of these changes may take time to fully implement. When all of Generation Z reaches the workplace, your office will be ready to fully accommodate these employees. Follow these steps to prepare for Generation Z’s arrival:
1. Improve technological capabilities
Since Generation Z’s lives revolve around technology, your workplace should do the same to accommodate them. When they arrive in the workforce, they expect software to be user-friendly and simple to navigate. Installing and adapting new technologies in your business’s structure will help you be more prepared for Gen Z.
If your company continues embracing technology by using software that improves efficiency, streamlines communication and offers more technological resources, Generation Z will likely be more enthusiastic to work for your company and will feel more motivated to produce valuable work.
2. Create a strong company culture
This generation is passionate about inclusion and diversity, since that’s what they’re surrounded with growing up. They want to work for companies that are constantly striving to be progressive and innovative. Starting out as a progressive and diverse culture now will help establish yourself as an innovative company focused on the future.
Generation Z will also want to work for a company that possesses a strong company culture and employees they regularly get along with. Many of them are passionate about working somewhere they enjoy being at, so they want to be friends with employees. Implementing programs like team-building workshops or company retreats helps bring employees together to build a stronger culture that Generation Z will want to be a part of.
3. Offer more career advancement opportunities
Many members of Generation Z have long-term career goals, meaning many of them want to work for companies where they can become supervisors and make more of a difference in their careers. They are more likely to work for a company that cares for its employees and wants to see them improve and grow. Many of them will view their supervisors as mentors. Creating training programs and regularly promoting employees who deserve it will encourage Generation Z to work at and stay with your company.
4. Create an environmentally friendly environment
Many Generation Z children are raised by millennial parents, who are aware of climate change and other environmental impacts. When all of Generation Z enters the workforce, many organizations will have adopted environmentally friendly practices into their workplace. They’re more likely to work for a company that cares about the environment. Here are a few ways your company can implement these environmentally-friendly changes now:
- Encourage employees to set their computers to sleep mode.
- Use less paper in the office or become a paperless environment.
- Purchase your products from environmentally-friendly suppliers.
- Tell employees to recycle and place recycle bins all over the office.
- Replace office light bulbs with LEDs.
- Make your own items and packaging material recyclable or reusable, if possible.
- Start replacing your equipment with water-efficient or green energy options.
5. Give your business a purpose and focus on societal impact
Similar to millennial employees, Generation Z is often passionate about making a difference in the world and working for a company with values they believe in. If you haven’t already, work with your team members and leadership to determine what your business’s purpose is and how you strive to help others through your work.
Use your vision and mission statement to express your company’s beliefs and values. Post this on your website so Gen Z will have easy access to it. Describe your values in interviews as well, since many of them will use the interview process to learn if your values align well with theirs. Knowing they’re working for something they’re passionate about means Generation Z employees will commit more to their role and will deliver more valuable and impressive work.
6. Offer ways for employees to be creative
Generation Z employees will likely be more confident than any other generation in the workplace. Many will speak their minds and express ideas in meetings and one-on-one sessions with supervisors. If their thoughts and ideas aren’t heard, they could pursue roles elsewhere. Show your employees you’re open to their ideas and encourage them to think of creative solutions to workplace problems.
They may also be more passionate about brainstorming sessions where they can develop creative ideas with other employees. Challenge your employees by having them work together with their coworkers to create projects that drive their creativity. They don’t enjoy sticking to the same routine every day, which makes them different from older generations. This generation is looking for new ways to problem solve and overcome new obstacles each day.
7. Provide strong benefits and mental health support
Generation Z is expected to have more mental health issues than any other generation, due to their exposure to technology. Since they’re exposed to an abundance of online information and profiles, they may experience issues with gratification, self-comparison and fear of missing out. Generation Z will likely need more mental health support at work. Consider developing programs that teach employees and managers about mental health issues to build their awareness and effectively care for employees experiencing them.
Generation Z may also find more interest in businesses that offer benefits that financially support their mental health. For example, you could offer insurance that covers psychiatric assistance. Research other employee assistance programs to help employees feel cared for and listened to in the workplace.
Ways managing Generation Z is different than previous generations
Generation Z will likely experience different learning and communication styles than any other generation. Here are some aspects to keep in mind as you manage members of this generation.
- They want to be treated like a mentee: Generation Z wants to learn more about how to advance and learn from their career. They won’t see their manager as a supervisor like other generations, and will instead view them as a friend and mentee who helps them grow and learn within their career.
- They prefer a hands-off work style: While previous generations look for managers to closely monitor them and regularly report to them, Generation Z chooses to develop by teaching themselves skills and completing projects on their own. When they need assistance or guidance, they won’t be afraid to ask their manager for help.
- They require less communication: Older generations regularly communicate with clients, employees or managers in person. Generation Z will be so used to instant communication online that they’d rather send quick instant messages to employees and managers via a chat system, so they can quickly return to their work.
- They are passionate about making a difference: Because of technology, Gen Z is more exposed to stories of how people are making a difference, which makes them want to do the same. Many of them will look for supervisors who encourage them to help others and will constantly remind them of the business’ values. This drives employees to complete more quality work for the business they’re passionate about.
Generation Z is a new generation to adapt to as they grew up immersed in technology and were taught a new way of thinking that differs from previous generations. Adapting your business to how this new generation works, thinks and acts will help you find future employees that create valuable, innovative work and drive your business to succeed.