Preparing for Gen Z in the Workplace
Millennials are aging and climbing the corporate ladder while a new generation is on the verge of entering the workforce: Generation Z. Companies have spent a lot of energy and money marketing themselves to Millennials, but it’s time to shift the efforts to Generation Z, also known as Gen Z. In just three years, this group will account for 20 percent of the workforce, and they have a growing list of expectations.
While there isn’t a definitive cutoff separating one generation from the next, we’ll use research agency Sparks & Honey’s classifications for clarity. The company defines Millennials as those born between 1982 and 1997. Anyone born after that is a member of Gen Z.
Millennials and Generation Z share many similarities when it comes to workplace preferences, but there are also many distinguishing factors to be aware of if you want to appeal to this upcoming generation’s values and attitudes. If your company doesn’t prepare to adjust its culture to accommodate Gen Z, you risk losing their fresh ideas and talents to other companies willing to conform.
Millennial and Gen Z similarities
Fortunately, Gen Z’s entrance won’t require a drastic change in your company’s culture the way the Millennials did because both cohorts share similarities.
Both generations look for companies that will offer growth and potential leadership positions. The most important factor Gen Z looks for is opportunity for advancement. Likewise, the lack of advancement is the top reason Millennials leave a company. Neither group wants to be stagnant for too long, so they’ll take their skills elsewhere if they don’t see growth potential. In fact, Sparks & Honey found that 60 percent of Gen Zers expect to have multiple careers by the time they’re 30 years old.
Millennials and Gen Z seek significant mentorship because they have a strong desire to learn and improve their skills. Research from Deloitte found that 68 percent of Millennials who plan on staying with a company for more than five years are likely to have a mentor. Mentors can help Millennials navigate their career paths and improve their skills. These are traits a company should find valuable.
Gen Z agrees that it’s important to have an experienced partner, so if your company has a mentorship system, you’re already one step ahead.
The last significant similarity between Millennials and Generation Z is that they both want to make a difference and will choose a meaningful career in order to achieve that goal. However, Millennials find this slightly more important than members of Generation Z. A notable amount of Millennials, 84 percent, believe making a difference is more important than professional recognition, while 60 percent of Gen Zers want to have a positive impact on the world with their jobs.
Millennial and Gen Z differences
Beyond the similarities, Generation Z is expecting more from their future employers and work environments. For one, their tech-centric upbringing has greatly influenced what they’re looking for. Additionally, witnessing the impacts of the Great Recession on their older siblings and parents has shaped their attitudes as they enter the workforce. Here are the top three differences between the two generations’ workplace preferences:
- Career-focused perks
Ping-pong tables or video games in the building aren’t as important to Gen Z as they are to Millennials. Gen Z wants perks that are related to their careers and that will help them advance. They’re more interested in a company that will send them to expos where they can learn new information to bring back to the team.
Popular job board and career management service Monster conducted a survey and, interestingly, Gen Zers valued traditional services associated with older generations like the Baby Boomers. They care about benefits like health insurance, competitive pay and a boss they can respect.
- Relationships and communication style
Generation Z is the first generation that was born into a society where mobile technology was ubiquitous. They grew up with cellphones, tablets and high-speed Internet. But despite having technology at their fingertips, they prefer in-person communication more than Millennials. Millennials don’t find communicating in person difficult, but they’re more content with phone conversations and using other communication tools like instant messengers. Make sure you know how to communicate with your multigenerational workforce.
Gen Zers seek direct access to their supervisors and want to feel comfortable talking to them. They also expect to have an open and professional relationship with senior employees because they want the opportunity to ask questions and receive support.
Luckily, they won’t need as much training as previous generations, especially in manufacturing. This generation loves DIY projects and can fix almost anything by watching an online how-to video. They can learn processes, machinery and digital interfaces quickly.
- Flexible working environment
Millennials had a large hand in popularizing working from home. About 3.8 million workers telecommuted at least half of the time in 2016 and that’s increasing by 5.8 percent annually. But Generation Z is going to normalize working remotely and will try to remove the negative stigma attached to it. The typical 9-5 workday doesn’t interest them because they’re each productive at different hours. Rather than wanting a better work-life balance, they’re seeking work-life integration and the ability to blend the two at their convenience. Even though it might not always be possible to give your workers this perk, at Staff Management | SMX, we know that flexible work schedules can broaden your recruitment reach.
Being a part of Generation Z is about individualism and rejecting the norms. Millennials sparked the business casual revolution and Gen Zers are going to push that even further by wanting to be even more casual at work.
Overall, they will favor companies with a lenient company culture.
Looking towards the future
As Gen Z emerges into the full-time workforce, your company will need to adapt to their career preferences to attract this up-and-coming talent pool. Unlike Millennials, Generation Z is focused on finding their dream job rather than solely seeking financial stability, so you can’t win them over with salary alone. By crafting Gen Z-specific job offers, you’ll attract a generation that is more competitive and mature than their predecessors. The addition of their hard-working attitude and determination to learn and advance within your company can give you an extra competitive edge.