For years now, the focus has been on Millennials, but the truth is, Millennials are now in their mid to late twenties and thirties. They’ve been a part of the workforce for years now. The next generation that is going to make a big impact in the workplace are the Gen. Zs. Generally defined as the generation born between 1996 and 2010, Gen. Zs currently number more than 61 million in the U.S. alone. They are beginning to break into the workforce and should make up one-fifth of it by 2021.
There are a few differences between what motivates the Gen. Z population versus what motivates Millennials at work. They were born into a world where the internet was already widely used, and smartphones were readily available, which means they want innovative technology in the workplace. They grew up watching their parents struggle through the Great Recession, so they fear experiencing another one. This fear has caused them to place a premium on a stable paycheck and a secure job. Additionally, they’ve been shaped by the #MeToo era, meaning they expect authenticity and transparency from management. However, unlike their Millennial counterparts who will sacrifice upward movement to create their own path of development, the Gen. Zs appear eager to pursue upward advancement.
These are just a few distinctions that should raise questions for your workplace. Here are three critical Gen. Z traits that you should consider if you want to attract the best young talent that will help your company evolve.
1. Tech Savvy
As mentioned above, Gen. Zs don’t know a world without the internet or smartphones. Tech is second nature to the Gen. Z; they live and breathe it. Most likely, your offices are not delivering a truly digital environment. Either you’re just not aware of the tech innovations that are out there, you don’t understand the language around that innovation, or your tech is simply out of date.
To combat this, some companies are creating new positions where the sole purpose is to get the entire organization comfortable with the language and concepts that are driving digital innovation.
While Millennials are all about collaboration, Gen. Zs are fiercely independent and competitive. They don’t mind going head-to-head with teammates to prove their worth. This doesn’t mean the two work styles can’t work together cohesively. A great solution to allow Gen. Zs to flex their competitive muscle is through in-house competitions. These can be something as simple as ping-pong tournaments or baking contests. Another solution that also incorporates tech is utilizing gamification software during training programs. This software facilitates competition by turning the training into a game with points, pages and leaderboards.
3. Balance Between Social & Solitary
While Gen. Zs value competition and independence, they also value the chance to be a part of a team. Striking the right balance between social and solitary is critical to creating a healthy working environment for this generation.
Recent studies have shown that Gen. Zs have startlingly high levels of loneliness, and there are a number of studies that show a high level of anxiety and distrust as well. Designing a space that encourages collaboration but also provides breakaway areas for solitary work will be pivotal to their success.
In recent years, Millennials have reshaped the culture of the workplace, but Generation Z is ready to reshape it again. Enhancing tech, fostering competition and designing a workplace that allows for both collaboration and solitude are just a handful of ways to attract the best young talent. Adapting to this emerging workforce will give your organization a competitive advantage and help it evolve and grow.