Are you ready for Generation Z?
Future planning is the key to the success in any organisation. Before we know it, those ambitious Millennials, some of whom are now in their mid-thirties, will be climbing the career ladder and taking on managerial and executive roles. In their wake, they leave room for a new generation of workers – Generation Z – or if you want to be really trendy, the Gen-Zers.
So who are the Gen-Zers?
At the risk of making you feel old, they are yesterday’s children. Born from 1995 onwards, this is a generation of young adults, the oldest of whom are now fresh from higher education, who are predicted to make up 24% of the global workforce in just two years’ time. Yes, that’s nearly a quarter of the total workforce. So if you plan on being a successful business manager or owner, being able to respond to their needs and manage a cross-generation employee base is essential. Each new generation of employees is a little different to their predecessors because today’s world moves so quickly. What makes these young people tick, what will they expect from their employers – and how will they contribute?
What will Generation Z bring to the table?
One clear factor that holds true across this generation is an inseparable relationship with technology. Forget about video, fax, or dial-up connections, these people grew up with Wi-Fi. They’ve probably owned smartphones and used social media since before they started secondary school. They are undoubtedly the most technology proficient generation to hit the workplace, and they will be totally in sync with the latest developments.
Employers will need to demonstrate a focus on technology to attract them, as these guys will take having the latest technology in their workplaces for granted. But that’s a massive positive. The Gen-Zers will adapt seamlessly to any new workplace technologies or processes that you introduce – and they will be invaluable in testing the effectiveness of them or suggesting better solutions. They will drive innovation and development at a speed you may not have experienced before.
In fact, Generation Z has bags of drive, talent, and ambition across all aspects of work life. They yearn to grow and progress quickly, wanting to impact positively on the company they work for. They are used to being self-driven – if they don’t know something, they just use the internet to look it up. You’re likely to find plenty of entrepreneurial flair within this sector too. If you want them knocking on your door, you must work hard for their attention and offer decent salaries and benefits.
What makes them tick?
Many young adults of this generation have a strong social conscience and want to make an impact on society. You may find they are a little more loyal than Millennials. With a drive to advance and progress, they will make full use of mentors, internships and training opportunities.
Gen-Zers are interested in working for a company that represents their own values, and they can spot authenticity a mile off. When you’ve been exposed to online content for years, you develop an instinct about what is real and what is not. If you want to attract and keep these guys, you need to be credible and gain their trust.
A recent report by EY (formerly Ernst and Young) surveyed 3,200 16 – 18 year olds across the world to understand how these upcoming professionals’ perceptions of trust might influence their future employment decisions.
They found that ‘Gen Z values equal opportunity for pay and promotion, and that opportunities to learn and advance are leading factors in trusting a future employer. The top factors Gen Z respondents globally said were “very important” in trusting an employer were “provides equal opportunity for pay and promotion” and “provides opportunities to learn and advance in my career” (both 66%).’
What They Expect
This generation grew up during a recession. They may have experienced family financial struggles first hand. Early indications show that Generation Z has a significantly less entitled attitude than Millennials – they are a group of people ready to work hard for a living, and they recognise that financial support from government may not be available in later life. Gen-Zers are shown to be a lot more interested than Millennials in achieving financial stability.
They also expect good relationships with their co-workers and bosses. Whilst proficient in social media, texting and email, they seek genuine conversations and connections with their superiors.
Remember that they have grown up in a politically correct society where there are no winners at sports days, only participants. This group will have been praised and rewarded for every little achievement, no matter how small. The result of this is that they crave extensive feedback and input. So as a manager, to connect with your Gen-Zers, you must support and encourage them in whatever project they are working on.
We’ve talked about how Generation Z has practically grown up on the Internet. Mobile technology is with them at all times. These young workers can manage life on the go and will want to take a flexible approach to work. With an amazing ability to focus and get work done from anywhere they need to, be that the bar or the kitchen table, Generation Z doesn’t simply prefer flexibility and autonomy in the way they work – they demand it. To attract and retain the best workers of this generation, you may need to adapt your company practices and strike a balance between your work structure expectations and theirs.