Just when you’d adapted your workplace to millennials, it’s time to prepare for Generation Z, those born between about 1996 through 2011. More than a quarter of America’s population belongs to this demographic, and with the first of them turning 21 this year, it’s time to figure out how you can engage their talents.
“This generation is ... ready to run with whatever is given to them,” says John Boitnott, writing for Inc. Magazine. “They are not above working hard for their paycheck, they are loyal, and are able to innovate your company to match the changing times.”
Ready to find out more about Gen Z? Here are some essential facts you need to know.
- Meet the first true digital natives
Members of Gen Z grew up playing games on their smartphones and tablets, and 79% of them display symptoms of emotional distress when kept away from their personal electronic devices. While millennials can multitask across three screens, Gen Z can take in information instantaneously across five. Gen Z expects personalization and relevance, and can lose interest quickly, with an average attention span of 8 seconds (down from 12 for millennials).
Get strategic about how to make the most of Gen Z’s techno-centric nature. According to Jim Link, chief human resources officer with Randstad North America, your challenge will be to figure out how to “get value from them in the same burst of time that they’re able to get information today and communicate with others, which is instantaneously.”
- Attract Gen Z by offering what they value
Appeal to Gen Z with “a strong employer brand that is consistent across technologies … targeting the brand’s ideal Gen Z employees through tools like social recruiting and talent CRM targeted emails,” advises Seth Matheson, director of talent fusion for Monster’s team of in-house recruiters.
Surveys offer conflicting views of what Gen Z members value most. Some say members of Gen Z—raised during the Great Recession—are more cautious than millennials and value more traditional benefits. “Their top three ‘must haves’ for their first job are health insurance (70%), a competitive salary (63%), and a boss they respect (61%),” says Matheson. But in another survey, college students prioritized opportunity for career growth (36%), fulfilling work (19%), and stability (19%)—ranking friendly work environments (10%), flexible schedules (7%), and salary (6%) lower in priority.
- Communicate Visually
Gen Z could be the most collaborative team players to date, but the collaboration will need to be visual. Expect them to communicate most effectively using videoconferencing or presence rather than email.
In written communications, members of Gen Z often prefer to express themselves with emoticons and emojis. This communication leaves a lot of room for interpretation, however. Watch out for potential misunderstandings in the workplace due to poor writing: 68% of their teachers think digital tools make Gen Z more likely to take shortcuts and not put effort into their writing.
- Look for potential leaders
Gen Z and millennials are both entrepreneurial minded: They grew up watching young innovators disrupt traditional industries. Compared to millennials, 5% more Gen Z workers—nearly 84%—said they aspired to be leaders themselves, and nearly half of them want to have their own businesses, compared to 32% across all working generations. This could be great news for your organization, if you can tap into that drive by fostering entrepreneurial groups or opportunities.
- Keep Gen Z engaged
Retaining Gen Z is likely to be a challenge, as 27% of today’s students believe you should only stay at your first job for a year or less. The best way to change this mindset is to keep them engaged with new professional development opportunities, so they can feel they’re continuing their career growth.
One of the best ways to do this is to foster a culture of mentoring: 45% of Gen Z said they wish to be mentored. They want frequent feedback, so forget about an annual evaluation. Think about implementing daily check-ins and monthly or even weekly goal-setting.
Even though Gen Z is fluent in electronic communications, they’d much rather have genuine conversations and connections with higher-ups. Here’s where your older workers can capture the attention of Gen Z, and together, the two can strengthen your organization by integrating its values and strengths with the energy and technology savvy of the younger generation.