The next generation of young people is now entering the workplace. ‘Generation Z’ – those born from mid-90s to early 2000s – are a different breed altogether from the millennials who get most of the attention. According to research on the subject, they’re more connected, more concerned and more conformist than their predecessors.
Whilst we must be careful not to stereotype such a large group of people, there are certain trends and behaviours that leaders and managers should be aware of. That way, you can attract and retain the best talent, as well as effectively target Gen Z as consumers.
Who are Gen Z?
Global advertising agency J. Walter Thompson recently conducted an extensive survey of Gen Z to gauge behaviours and social attitudes, including their expectations of the workplace.
Here are a few insights:
- They’re always online – 86% use their smartphones multiple times a day, but many are aware this is excessive and are trying to cut down
- They’re avid users of Facebook and YouTube – despite rumours that Gen Z is abandoning Facebook, 71% use it more than any other social media. YouTube is also an extremely popular platform. Interestingly, Gen Z are savvier about what they post online than millennials and take extra care
- They’re preparing for and worried about the future – having come of age during a downturn in the global economy, they understand that the good life doesn’t come easy. As such, they take education and future planning seriously
- They’re socially aware – Gen Z are globally-minded, racially more integrated than previous generations and blind to diversity; many are indifferent to differences in race, gender and sexuality
In general, Gen Z are keen to do well in life and want to make a difference in the world. They are a generation of self-starters with an entrepreneurial spirit, caring less about fame and fortune and more about leading a happy and contented life. They are also less rebellious than their forbears, with drastic reductions in rates of alcohol and drug abuse as well as teenage pregnancy rates.
Recently, Cegos APAC conducted a mini-survey amongst 13 to 18-year-olds to gauge their expectations as they prepare to enter the workplace. 88% of respondents said they prefer face-to-face communications over digital when collaborating with peers and colleagues.
How to prepare for Gen Z in the workplace
This generation is already graduating from college and is hungry for experience. Organisations should take steps to cater to this appetite and nurture the kind of talent that drives success. In practice, this means giving Gen Z opportunities to learn and develop within your organisation.
The way Gen Z has been learning at school will have a profound effect on how they learn in the workplace. Today’s students learn through their devices and online forums, and come to the classroom to apply the learning through project work and peer-to-peer collaboration. This is precisely what they will expect in the workforce as they are fully aware of the benefits of this kind of learning.
So, what can you do now to make that happen?
- Make learning a big part of their job
There is something of a disconnect between traditional education and the modern world that Gen Z inhabit. As such, some are choosing to forgo higher education and get into business earlier. Companies that offer a strong L&D package will attract the most entrepreneurial candidates, whilst graduates will favour those organisations that offer to continue their learning.
- Use social media to connect
There is much talk of digital transformation at the moment. Encourage engagement with Gen Z by making use of the latest platforms and software. However, use only social media that is relevant to the environment in which you operate.
- Embrace the technology they use to develop your company
Gen Z are tech-savvy and generally need very little training to use the latest technology. Research the latest digital innovations that will benefit your business and introduce them now, if not already in place. You could even involve new recruits in this process as an added incentive to make a difference. Gen Z will be attracted to work with companies who have their finger on the pulse of modern working practices.
- Don’t forget the human touch
Gen Z, like any other generation, hate to be pigeonholed. Don’t try to use teen slang to talk to them – it’s patronising and a big turnoff. Instead, treat them as individuals, as adults, and give them plenty of opportunities to interact face-to-face with colleagues and clients.
In a turbulent world, Generation Z are keen to make a positive contribution to its improvement. They’re serious about achievement and ready to learn. Companies who embrace this spirit and empower the next generation to succeed will no doubt reap the rewards.
Cegos works with clients to help different generations complement each other’s strengths and collaborate in the workplace. Contact us to find out more.