Generation Z is the generational cohort that is generally accepted to run from 1995 to 2016. The majority of the workforce in the USA is currently composed of Millennials, a generation that has caused a massive amount of media attention thus far.
However, since 2015, Generation Z has gradually been entering the workforce. It’s therefore essential for human resource professionals and other business leaders to prepare for the changes that the new generation will bring. Assuming that Gen Z workers will act and think in much the same way as Millennials is a dangerous mistake to make. In truth, Generation Z is unique in its values, work preferences, and outlook.
What does Gen Z look for in a job?
Millennials achieved infamy for expecting a prestigious career with fast progression to be handed to them on a plate. They also valued ‘meaningful’ and ‘fun’ jobs above lucrative career paths. The newest generation is different.
Two of the most distinctive features of Gen-Zers are their status as digital natives and the fact that they’ve during a period of economic instability (The 2007/8 Financial Crisis). Both of these factors shaped their career expectations.
Members of Generation Z saw the effect the economic crash had on Millennials, who failed to prioritize finding stable jobs. As a result, Generation Z is extremely pragmatic and value stability. They expect quick advancement and a high salary – not because they want to splurge their money, but because they want to save to plan for financial independence.
However, this doesn’t mean that Generation Z only cares about money. They may be practical, but they also hold noble ideals. Generation Z has a strong social compass and value authenticity, so it follows through that they would prioritize working for companies that possess the same authentic values they do.
This could include environmental policies – tackling climate change is hugely important for Generation Z – or promoting essential causes such as LGBTQ+ rights. However, companies need to be authentic and choose values that genuinely represent them as opposed to standard corporate social responsibility lines.
Mental health provision is also pivotal to Generation Z, due to the large proportion that suffers from issues such as anxiety or depression. As the prevalence of stress and fatigue rises – especially amongst young adults – any organization that wants to attract the younger generations needs to offer solutions. This could be as simple as offering flexible working options or as novel as offering free lunchtime yoga sessions.
Gen Z clearly understands the importance of looking after their mental wellbeing and fostering work-life balance – they look for an employer who understands this too.
Surprisingly, growing up as digital natives doesn’t mean that this generation wants to work trough digital interfaces exclusively, at the expense of human contact. The reverse is true: being surrounded by technology all their lives taught Generation Z the value of face-to-face interactions.
Therefore, Generation Z looks for careers that can offer them a balance of human connection and the advantages of technology, such as the use of messaging services to promote constant collaboration.
How to Attract Gen Z employees
Gen-Zers have work preferences that are distinct from previous generational cohorts. Their expectations are as they are also as a consequence of the financial and technological environment where they grew up.
As outlined previously, Generation Z looks for jobs with great stability, financial incentives, and social causes – these are all obvious ways to attract the new generation into your organization.
However, they aren’t the only ones.
Due to the strong focus of Gen Z members on developing their careers, learning and development programs are a great option. This is a generation of digital natives, e-Learning courses will be welcomed with open arms. Another great option is to offer all employees a generous budget that they can use for their personal and career development to use on courses of their choosing. This not only promotes learning and development but also encourages the independent and individualistic spirit of most Gen-Zers.
Mentoring gives Generation Z the culture of authenticity and collaboration that they desire, and it also gives them a chance to learn how to advance their careers. This can be combined with a less conventional option known as reverse mentoring: a junior employee mentors a senior employee instead of the other way around.
The promise of regular feedback is another excellent way to attract Gen Z talent. Many companies fail to incorporate an environment of constant learning, so offering this will help your business to excel.
Another important characteristic of Generation Z is their desire to be in an environment with innovation and new technology. Reports reveal that 74% are dissatisfied with technology in their current job – this is a higher percentage than any previous generation, including Millennials.
Ensuring that your company embraces new technology instead of fearing is a sure-fire way to stand out amongst other companies for Generation Z. Instead of resisting the latest developments in employee applications or computer technology, embrace them with open arms. They probably won’t seem particularly developed or advanced to Generation Z at all. For them, technology advancements are kind of standard, not extraordinary.
How to Retain Gen Z Employees
Less than half of Generation Z and Millennials feel connected to their jobs. Most of them are expected to switch jobs every couple of years as they progress through the workforce. The concept of having a ‘job for life’ may be long gone, but it’s still essential for human resources specialists to retain their top young talent.
There are a few Key Ways to do this
Generation Z is individualistic and entrepreneurial; this means its members value having the chance to shine and to progress. One way that they can do this is to move between companies and positions.
There is no need for them to do so, if they feel they have ample opportunities in their current employment. It’s thus important to ensure that young employees are given clear opportunities for advancement and promotion – including financial incentives.
Mentoring and regular feedback can go a long way in fostering an environment that encourages this, but it’s essential to be transparent, too. Be clear about the opportunities available and the expected time frame for each achievement. Offer a bi-annual meeting for all employees to discuss the potential of salary raises and promotions. Many companies are starting to do this already.
Money and progression may be important for Generation Z, especially when compared to Millennials, but they’re not the only things this generation cares about. It’s also vital for Gen-Zers to work for a company they actually respect. This could be done by creating the right culture and by pursuing it day after day.
Gen Z employees value authenticity, so a culture of openness is essential even at the workplace. Despite appreciating human contact and face-to-face meetings, the young workers of today are keenly aware that working hard doesn’t necessarily mean spending long hours in the office.
Gen-Zers expects to be given the flexibility to work in other ways. This may mean the freedom to work remotely from time to time, or it may mean having some leeway over their hours. Why work 9-to-5 every day if 8-to-4 or 10-to-6 suits your schedule better?
Fostering a team spirit is also a key factor in retaining Gen Z workers. Although Generation Z wants to advance fast, they don’t want to do so at the expense of their peers and feel like they’re in a rat race every day.
An environment of collaboration, with frequent back and forth conversations within teams, is essential to Gen Z. Thanks to messaging applications such as Slack and Discord, this is now easier to achieve than ever before.
Of course, some more general principles also apply to Generation Z – they may be digital natives, but they’re not aliens. The 5 R’s are always a useful principle to go by: respect, responsibility, relaxation, rewards, and revenue-sharing. For Generation Z, rewards and revenue-sharing are important above all else.
Following this advice will lessen turnover and encourage retention, thus allowing your company to flourish with the newest young talents.
It’s dangerous to make sweeping generalizations about an entire generation, but bright patterns have emerged which differentiate Generation Z from Millennials and other generations that came before them.
If companies hope to attract and retain Gen Z workers, it’s increasingly important they offer clear opportunities for progression and financial rewards. And they should be completely transparent about it is possible for a new hired to achieve them.
However, although Generation Z values financial stability, money alone isn’t enough to retain them in your company. Try to think wether your organization possesses strong social principles which it can put into action. If not, that could be why Gen-Zers are ghosting your mails and phone calls.
As a take-away, ensure your team is innovative, feedback-friendly, technologically-advanced, and open to flexible working options such as remote working. Once you’ve nailed these key areas, both attracting and retaining Gen Z employees should come naturally.
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