October 07, 2019 - Career Group Companies
It seems like just yesterday millennials entered the workforce, and we discussed things like how important it was to cater to their needs outside of compensation. But look out folks – we have a new generation in town. Soon they will they will inhabit 20% of the workforce. Generation Z is beginning to take their place in the professional world; they have preferences, work styles, and education levels that their employers must align themselves with. There are a ton of things to cover to learn how Generation Z is changing the workforce. But first, let’s learn a little bit about this new generation.
Generation Z refers to individuals born between the years of 1995 and 2012. Odds are you probably have at least a few of them on your payroll. They are a generation most known for the fact that they’ve grown up in the world of social media and the Internet and consumed information from both for the majority of their lives. Because of the accessibility of information, they’re accustomed to receiving information “on-demand,” and usually turn to technology for this.
Perhaps one of the most striking differences Generation Z offers is that since they’re used to consuming so much information at one time, their multitasking skills are through the roof. This can lead to good and bad results. On one hand, you can expect them to handle several things at once. In fact, Visual Capitalist has found that “75% want to have multiple roles in an organization.” Given their affinity for managing tasks, members of Generation Z will be highly productive and more autonomous in complex roles.
On the other hand, this constant need for new information can be taxing. You may see them scanning the room or looking around during a meeting with no tech stimulation (LucidPress). Because of this, organizations must think hard about their HR policies regarding personal devices and meeting lengths.
With Millennials buried in student debt, Gen Z workers are concerned with saving money and feel much more anxious about paying back debts. Since college costs have become so inflated, many Gen Z’ers have expressed desire to “gain more control over and visibility into their education planning process,” according to Altitude, Inc. To address these desires, employers should be prepared to see things like junior colleges, school transfers, and unique majors on resumes and job applications. Further, HR programs such as 401(k)s should be well-advertised during the interview process – to attract this new generation. Forbes found that 35% of this population plan to start saving for retirement in their 20s.
Since they have grown up around technology, Generation Z prefers working on multiple things at once. However, this can inhibit their ability to focus and zone in on one task. To combat this, workplaces should consider building what Knoll describes as “refuge” workspaces – areas free of distraction, where the individuals can truly focus. They also mention creation of “enclave” spaces. These are ones that encourage collaboration and use of technology. Because of this proficiency with technology, companies also have the opportunity to encourage collaboration with remote workers or teams in other offices; this makes for a wider range of thought and collaboration overall.
Diversity is also extremely important to this generation, which “values racial equality as a top issue,” according to Visual Capitalist. Statistically, 72% of members surveyed see racial equality as the most important issue today, and 36% name it as the top cause they hope their future employer supports. As generations become more diverse, employers must emphasize their efforts to increase diversity during all hiring conversations.
This generation prefers one-on-one, hands-on workplace interactions, both with supervisors and colleagues. They value human communication and connection. 16% of members surveyed emphasized the importance of having relationships with their coworkers in the workplace. Companies should foster these relationships and create environments where Gen Z’ers feel encouraged. This means no more walled cubicles and closed doors.
The same article stated that 40% of members surveyed desired “daily interactions with their boss”. Still, most of these professionals continue to want to work in a larger firm. 80% surveyed prefer to work for a midsize or large company. To avoid these hardworking, bright individuals getting lost in the shuffle, companies should place more emphasis on manager-associate interactions and less on holistic companywide meetings.
The world continues to become more diverse and tech-dependent. Employers must constantly think one step ahead to determine how best to support their incoming employees’ needs. And while there are many similarities between Millennials and Generation Z, companies should start thinking about how they can pivot certain practices to cater to the newest crop of professionals. In the long run, taking these extra steps will be worth it.