Just when we think we’re starting to get a handle on the Millennials, Generation Z comes careening into the workforce. So, we need to reconsider all of the same questions; What are they like? What do they want? How can we hire them? How can we work with them?
Many organizations have been hyper-focused on Millennials in the workforce for the past few years. They are, in fact, the most studied group ever. Now, as Millennials transition into more management roles, Generation Z becomes a new topic of conversation as they begin their college education and their careers. Generation Z will account for about one-third of the population by 2020, making it critical for organizations to begin understanding them now.
Here are 5 things your organization needs to know about Generation Z:
- Their attention spans are short, and so is their expected tenure
Generation Z are the true digital natives, having had access to the Internet and technology their entire lives. Their unprecedented access to large amounts of information has made them skilled in “skimming” through topics and interests until they latch on to something new and trendy. This trait seems to extend to their philosophy on careers, with 83% of today’s students identifying three years as the appropriate amount of time to spend at their first job. For organizations, this short attention span means launching a more engaging recruiting and onboarding process to attract this generation, and providing meaningful goals and milestones to retain them.
- They are determined to differentiate themselves from Millennials
Millennials carry a myriad of negative stereotypes including being entitled, being lazy, and lacking an overall commitment to work, favoring more “fulfilling” life experiences beyond the boardroom. Determined to shake the stigma of their predecessors, Generation Z asserts their commitment to working hard and establishing themselves outside of online social networks. Generation Z was raised amidst the economic recession which has caused them to become more pragmatic and focused on creating a stable future. Fast Company reports that Generation Z’s top three priorities are getting a job, finishing college, and safeguarding money for the years to come.
- They expect high-tech
While most generations admire and celebrate technological innovations, Generation Z expects them. They have lived a life of continuous updates. From apps, to phones, to appliances, and cars, the world around Generation Z has always evolved at a rapid pace to coincide with the advancements in technology. While Baby Boomers might consider a car with built-in WiFi an optional preference, it is a prerequisite for Generation Z. For the workplace, this means that organizations will need to adopt and keep pace with new technologies, empowering their employees with the tools they need, in order to engage this generation.
- They are more motivated by mission than money
While focused and committed to maintaining a stable job, Generation Z shares the Millennial mentality of “mission before money”. When it comes to engaging with brands as a consumer, Generation Z values authenticity and transparency, and seeks out organizations that align with their beliefs and ideals. Having been shaped by an economic recession riddled with stories of greedy corporate giants, Generation Z prefers to work with smaller organizations that stand for something real. This is good news for nonprofits and the Health and Human Services industry, indicating that they may have an advantage over the corporate competition in recruiting.
- They prefer to learn and work on their own
Millennials are to collaboration as Generation Z is to independence. Where the Millennial generation believes in the Power of Pods and teamwork, Generation Z prefers to work independently and will compete with peers to maintain and advance their careers. Furthermore, Generation Z is used to having access to all of the information from the phone in their pocket, so they are no stranger to researching and figuring things out for themselves. For organizations with Generation Z employees, the traditional training methods will likely need to be adjusted to embrace online, self-guided learning paths. For organizations looking to hire Generation Z, be prepared for them to fully research your organization beforehand by checking online reviews and reaching out to their social and professional networks.
Organizations must maintain a close focus on Generation Z, beginning preparations early to adjust their processes and strategies to address the oncoming influx of diverse workers. However, it’s also important not to solely focus on one (or two) generations within the workplace. Today’s workforce is a melting pot of generational differences and each needs to be understood fully in order to manage them effectively.