Who Is Generation Z?
Who are these people anyway? Generation Z is made of people born between 1995 (some say 1997) and 2010, meaning the oldest are around 22 and just entering the workforce. That's around 61 million people in the U.S. or 2.52 billion young adults depending on whom you ask.
Their cool facts?
"Generation Z will be the first generation in the workplace that has never been offline" says Inc Magazine. They're digital natives — the entire generation is younger than Google and 92% of them have some sort of digital footprint. They've also grown up in a tumultuous time for economics and politics (they were only four when 9/11 occurred, and they grew up during the Great Recession), Forbes says.
Gen Z is smart, cautious, and ready for a whole different type of workplace. In some ways, they could even be considered simpler. Oprah Winfrey advised the class of 2018 to “eat breakfast…make your bed…recycle…pay your bills on time…and to aim high," while Senior Forbes Contributor Joseph Coughlin says he's seen graduation speakers ask students to be "daring, to hone personal resilience and more." But guess what? A lot of them haven't gone and aren't going to college, and not many of them are interested in amassing debt to do so like their predecessors.
So what do they want?
The Jobs Gen Z Wants
It's still a talent-driven/candidate-focused market out there, so recruiting will need to focus on attracting talent (more on hiring later), but what roles are Generation Z looking for?
Here's a great table from Indeed:
To learn more, Indeed’s analytics team crunched the numbers on Gen Zers of graduation age compared to everyone else. We also calculated a “popularity index” to show how much more frequently this group clicks on certain full-time job postings compared to all other job seekers.
Hiring for one of these roles? Waiting for a new employee? What will it be like to work with a Gen Z coworker? Let's dive deeper into the Gen Z psyche.
The Gen Z Office Culture
This might come as a shock, but these newbies, they don't want ping-pong. They want 401(k) matching and work-life balance. Gone are the days of needing lavish perks to woo top talent. In fact, LinkedIn Writer Bruce Anderson wrote this summer:
Balance and flexibility aren’t the only sources of employee pride. The two other most-cited sources were companies that foster a culture where employees can be themselves (47%) and the chance to engage in work that has a positive impact on society (46%), a critical but often overlooked driver in both hiring and retention.
Once again, culture is key in this new generation of workers. The human elements of "supportive leadership" and "positive relationships at work" were Generation Z's top two most important factors to consider in a job.
What else do they want in office culture?
Inc. found these 10 things were the most requested:
- Supportive leadership
- Positive relationships at work
- Scheduling flexibility
- Comfortable workspaces
- Chances to learn real skills
- Meaningful roles and responsibilities
- Opportunities to be promoted
- Extra pay for going the extra mile
- Convenient location
- Autonomy and creative freedom
Another big ask from Gen Z of their future employers? Diversity. 77% of them say a company’s diversity would be a deciding factor in accepting a job offer.
"Company marketing and branding is also crucial, as 70% of prospective employees look at company reviews on sites such as Glassdoor, and 69% are more likely to apply for a specific job if the company manages its brand well," according to Forbes.
Communicating with the Next Gen
Given all these human-type elements required for a culture fit, how do they want to be communicated with? The answer might surprise you. Despite the fact that Gen Z grew up entirely online, they actually prefer old-school communication.
When it comes to workplace communication, an article on Inc.com revealed research that discovered 72 percent of Generation Z want to communicate face to face at work. They're living in a high-tech world and they want high touch to go along with it. Another Forbes article says that, contrary to popular opinion, "this generation doesn’t want to just live on their screens. Gen Z-ers are actually more concerned with privacy than their millennial counterparts, and they don’t broadcast every facet of their lives. Instead, they selectively curate what they share and who they share it with."
So don't be afraid to initiate face-to-face meetings. It’s not all about screens and social media for Gen Z-ers who want to be social at the office. "Younger employees seek ongoing face-to-face contact," Forbes says.
They want to be involved, get their hands dirty, work on things with other people and feel like they’re part of something. There is no better proof of this than the surge of open workspaces and creative environments implemented by startups and think tanks looking to attract younger talent.
But They Still Can Speak Emoji 😎
Don't let this desire for in-person communication fool you — Gen Z still communicates with speed and often uses emoticons and emojis instead of words. Business Insider quotes Sparks & Honey: "They are accustomed to rapid-fire banter and commentary, as a result, Gen Z are not precise communicators and leave a lot of room for interpretation."
Here's what Sparks & Honey recommends to effectively communicate with a Gen Z-er:
Gen Z Wants to Be Heard
Whether face-to-face or on a mobile device, make sure to listen. "Gen Z-ers often want to contribute and be heard, so make sure your culture is directed at this level of participation before you hire anyone from this generation," cautions Serenity Gibbons on Forbes.com.
How else can you work well together?
- Reach out and ask for their opinions in meetings and online through feedback mechanisms
- Allow them to have their own projects to work on that don't require the involvement of others
- Don't micromanage; Gen Z has been raised in somewhat isolated environments so they are used to working independently
Hiring Gen Z
Sifting through a pile of resumes for a junior role? Sitting across the interview table from a member of this generation?
Win them over in the interview by talking about:
- Career paths and opportunities for advancement
- Benefits you offer now and will offer in the future
- Your company’s mission and philanthropic efforts
Here are three things to keep in mind:
- They Might Not Have a College Degree
Many Gen Z-ers do not have degrees. Instead, they may be self- or bootcamp-taught and have acquired skills through online courses and certifications. It's important to change the perspective on what defines an excellent team member or employee — it's not necessarily a university degree anymore.
- Be Prepared to Speak about Personal Development
More than millennials, Gen Z professionals are all about self-direction, self-motivation, and development. Having grown up with constantly changing technology has made them a never-stop-learning generation. You can entice your entry-level candidates by showing them the developmental path to get to the next career level, Recruiter Box suggests, or dedicate resources to develop an in-house mentorship program.
- They're Going to Want to Talk Money
Gen Z is very salary focused, but not out of a sense of entitlement as some fear, Dice.com says. As a result of growing up in the Great Recession, they want financial security and traditional benefits. Which also means that "companies will have to give Gen Z workers a strong reason to stay loyal. Yes, you may have to pay them more if you want them to stick around."
Don't be surprised if your interviews are more candid. “This is not a shy bunch,” Dan Black, Head of Recruiting for the Americas at audit-and-consulting powerhouse EY (formerly Ernst & Young), warns Fortune. “They’re much more confident and assertive about their goals, and a lot more knowledgeable about employers, than millennials were at the same age.”
Bottom line: Each new generation brings a fresh perspective and a new set of skills as well as challenges.
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