Move over Millennials (aka Gen Y), Generation Z is on the way.
Who Are Gen Y?
Born between 1995 and 2010, Gen Z is the latest generation to enter the workforce.
Their formative years were rife with headlines about the Middle Eastern wars, ISIS, financial crises, police brutality, never-ending refugee crises, school shootings, gun violence and uneasy political situations. As such, they don’t believe that big institutions or governments can be counted on to provide basic security or demand accountability. They see that they must accept responsibility for their own protection.
5 Key Drivers for Gen Z in the Workplace
1. Career-Focused Perks
Gen Z isn’t interested in the non-work related perks that lured Millennials. Rather than nap rooms or foosball tables, they want a company to feed their need for continuous learning. Gen Z accepts responsibility for their own relaxation, they want their company to help them continue to grow and evolve their personal brand.
They also care about security. Not since the Baby Boomers has there been a cohort that places so much emphasis on welfare benefits. Gen Z are more financially cautious than other generations and will look to their employer to help fill their need for protection from monetary adversity.
2. Communication / Relationships
Surprisingly for a generation who seem to have been born with a smartphone or tablet in their hands, Gen Z yearn for face-to-face communication. They want to be able to look into someone’s eyes when they’re speaking. This does not mean the person must be physically present. Any form of technology that includes faces is equally fine to them.
Gen Z also has a strong need to develop and retain relationships with people they can trust. Since they expect management to be involved in their development, Gen Z believe they will have relationships with senior employees who act as their guide through the world of work. Gen Z see mentors as a way to help fill in the gaps of what might be missing in their arsenal of skills to aid in their career growth.
3. Flexible Working Arrangements
Attuned to their own body rhythms, Gen Z is not interested in a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday workweek and wants one that allows them to function when they are at their most productive. Why drag yourself into the office for a 9 AM meeting when you could Skype from your bedroom before hitting the gym?
Given the wealth of connectivity tools available, Gen Z believe that they can remain connected regardless of where they happen to be. However, their strong need for face-to-face communication means they will not want to be permanent telecommuters. They simply want to be in the office when it is “right” for them.
They will use technology to keep themselves attuned to those in the office, so that absence from the office does not create a barrier to their relationships.
4. Feedback and Recognition
Gen Z want regular check-ins with their managers. Social media has made instantaneous feedback a constant in their lives. Gen Z anticipate the same level of ongoing communication from their boss. They will not be satisfied with yearly discussions of performance or even semi-annual ones.
Growing up in an era when they and their parents could monitor school progress daily using an app on their smartphones, Gen Z will look for daily feedback, segregated by assignment. Although unlikely that a company will be able to mirror this unless it is part of a project management software, companies will need to be aware that this lack could be stressful for this group who need to know where they stand.
Managers may discover that breaking tasks into small segments, so feedback can be more regular, will benefit this latest generation to join the workplace.
5. Customized Careers
Gen Z see themselves as individuals with unique talents and personal brands. Therefore, they expect to be treated as distinctive. They do not see themselves as the same as everyone else with their job title and do not want a one-size-fits-all career progression, moving from entry-level to journeyman to a senior professional in a linear sequence.
They are au fait with the idea of moving laterally to learn new skills or showcase their interests. They do not see the value of being limited to a single job if they have more interest, aptitudes, and skills. They envision a workplace where they work in engineering in the morning and morph into a graphic designer in the afternoon, thus combining their education and skills. As such, they want individualized career paths and advancement opportunities that focus on their strengths as well as their interests.
Gen Z wants to use their talents and experience multiple roles. Rotation programs can be used to leverage their experience and provide growth opportunities.
Next time, we’ll focus on the training needs of Generation Z.