As Generation Z begins to show up in the workplace in increasing numbers, employers sense a bit of history is repeating itself.
The values of loyalty, long-term commitment to a company, job security, savings and even the traditional goals of owning a car and a house are all back in vogue for this generation, born between 1996 and 2012.
Most strikingly, Gen Zers have returned to the belief that they will be more successful than their parents.
They’re not as questioning and they’re less cynical than Generation X and Millenials
“What strikes me is an echo of the Baby Boom Generation in how sentimental they are,” said Doug Sartori, owner of tech consulting firm Parallel 42 Systems.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964
Generation X: 1965-1976
Generation Z: 1996-2012
“It’s something they might have seen in their parents or grandparents.
“I’m wondering how much of it is aspirational. They want to go back to way a life they feel is better than what they see around them now.”
The similarities don’t end with sentimentality.
Sartori said his experiences with Gen Z have revealed an impressive work ethic and more acceptance of authority if it comes with clarity of purpose.
“They’re not as questioning and they’re less cynical than Generation X and Millenials,” said Sartori, who falls into the Gen X category.
Sartori’s anecdotal observations are backed up by the findings of a survey of Generation Z conducted by the Toronto-based training firm n-gen People Performance Inc.
“The good news for employers is companies that can align their values with this generation and provide internal opportunities for growth, they’re going to get talented, loyal employees who are willing to stay with an employer for a long time,” said Giselle Kovary, president of n-gen People Performance Inc.
“Gen Z is a bit of a throwback generation to more traditional values.”
Kovary’s firm, which specializes in corporate, generational and leadership training, conducted the survey of 600 Gen Zers in late 2017.
“This is an incredibly optimistic generation,” said Kovary, a University of Windsor graduate.
“Fifty-nine per cent of them feel they’re going to be better off than their parents. They’re far more optimistic than the previous generation.”
Employers will also be buoyed at the prospect of finding employees who aren’t looking to move jobs so frequently.
Gen Z values job security and would prefer to remain with a company for a long time if it offers opportunity for professional growth.
“They’re not looking to work for five or six companies in their career,” Kovary said. “Eighty-five per cent of those surveyed wanted a job they could stay at for a long time.”
Kyra Wardell, who collected her business degree from the University of Windsor Wednesday, said the survey painted an accurate picture of her generation.
“I just want someone who offers me an opportunity to grow and gain more skills,” the 21-year-old Wardell said.
“To grow as a professional is my number one thing.
“I want to keep learning. That’s how you become your best self.”
Wardell also said she’d prefer an opportunity to do that with a company over the long term.
“I believe in loyalty to a company 100 per cent,” Wardell said.
“If you love the people, that would make me stay. If I got an offered a job elsewhere with more compensation, I would stay with my company, especially if I believe in what their selling or in the company’s values.
“It’s when you don’t have that positive culture that a Gen Z would leave regardless of whether it was better or worse compensation.”
Sartori said there are also some unique aspects to Generation Z that employers must understand.
“What stands out for me is how caring they are,” Sartori said. “It’s striking how supportive they are and how open to diversity they are.
“As an employer, what you have to do to get the most out of them is create that emotional bond in the workplace. To Gen Zers they want to feel at home at work.”
Matt Marchand, president of the Windsor Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, said feedback from his members about their experiences with Generation Z has been positive.
“You want the right fit with people, but companies prove they’re doing the best they can to promote the right work environment,” Marchand said.
“You want people to stay and grow, so you have to be flexible.“
Business graduate Hassam Hamid, 23, also confirmed the survey’s results reflect his own beliefs.
“I’ve seen how hard my family has worked, so I know the world is a much better place for me than before,” Hamid said.
“I expect to start at the bottom and have to work myself up. It’s important to me to see the opportunity to do that within a company.”
Hamid also said he wouldn’t be comfortable working for a firm that varied too far from his own values. He said such an alignment is important to make a professional connection with your employer.
“I want to work for a company with a good reputation, that does good things for people,” Hamid said.
“Loyalty is also very important to me and not just in the workplace. Once you lose that, nothing came be the same after that.
“You have to have that to run a successful business and reach your goals faster.”
Millennial Jack Zhao illustrates just how much a difference a few years can make in altering perspectives.
The 26-year-old Zhao, who graduated Wednesday with a masters in management, has entirely different expectations of his career.
“Loyalty isn’t that important to my generation,” said Zhao, who will return home to work in a large Chinese city.
“Most of us are just seeking opportunities and a more colourful life.
“I think I’ll change companies every three to five years. I want to try different industries and different challenges.”