Here comes Gen Z!
They’re already trickling into the workforce as interns and entry-level employees, so it’s only a matter of time before the 60 million members of Generation Z begin having a major impact at every office. What do you know about this quarter of the population born between roughly 1995 and 2011? If you’re assuming they are Millennials 2.0, it’s time to upgrade your thinking.
Who they are
To get a grasp of these future employees, consider their other nickname: Globals.
“They truly grew up in a global world with no boundaries or borders and where any information is readily available at their fingertips,” says Brad Karsh, founder and CEO of JB Training Solutions and author of Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management. “Music, television, news, marketing, and the internet have exposed Globals to cultures from around the world since birth, so no matter where in the world they were raised, they all experienced the same global events. Technology, terrorism, recessions and multicultural acceptance have erased borders to create a one-world mindset that is inherent in Globals.”
Karsh predicts that Gen Z employees will be “catalysts in the workplace, bringing diverse groups together to solve complex challenges in an increasingly virtual and limitless world.”
Other positive aspects of this group may include:
- A willingness to be trained. Unwilling to incur too much student debt, they may not come in with as much formal schooling, but experts predict Globals will be eager learners ready to take advantage of employer-sponsored opportunities.
- A realistic view of accomplishment. The days of participation rewards may be coming to an end. While Globals still had parents who overscheduled them, they grew up knowing that simply showing up didn’t make them special.
What they want
On the flipside, Globals likely will expect certain things from prospective employers. With technology being second nature, job seekers may shun companies that fail to make it easy to apply electronically.
Similarly, Gen Z relies heavily on the internet for information and gets frustrated when answers can’t be found, so be sure their online search of your company results in plenty of quality information.
Good compensation should still rank highly when considering a job, especially for those who witnessed their parents struggle to make ends meet during the Great Recession. Telecommuting and other types of flexible work may become more commonplace—Globals already can do homework from virtually anywhere at any time.
Since sharing (or some would say “oversharing”) is commonplace among Globals, they very well might demand similar transparency from their employers. Be consistent and truthful; this generation spots discrepancies quickly.
And as a manager, be prepared to deal with workers who want regular feedback and honest answers. Since Globals have engrained the attitude that mistakes are a part of learning, they tend to take constructive criticism relatively well. But these realists also want to know why something needs to be done a certain way and how their work contributes to the company’s overall operations. Provide that information, and you’ll likely have a group of productive, satisfied workers.
3 things that don’t particularly impress Generation Z
1. This year’s latest and greatest
Let Millennials ooh and aah over the newest gadgets. Globals don’t get as excited because they know from experience that a better version is right around the corner.
2. Big-name companies
Their parents or grandparents may have dreamed of working for large companies, but Gen Z has seen that size doesn’t immediately translate into job security. And while they’ve witnessed several start-ups turning into household names, that route doesn’t seem to hold as great of appeal as it does to Millennials. In fact, 41% of Generation Z says a midsized company is their ideal work environment.
3. Traditional homepages
Forget thinking of a corporate website as simply a place to display facts and figures. Globals want a slice of real life. Blog about company activities, interview actual employees, and include links to what others are saying about your business if you want to grab Gen Z’s attention.