What you need to know about Gen Z in the workplace
For the past decade or so, employers, HR professionals, and recruiters have done their best to analyze and understand Millennials in order to foster productive work environments. Numerous articles have been written discussing Millennials’ desire for a better work-life balance than their parents and grandparents, as well as the fact that many prefer work that’s socially responsible and employers who contribute to the greater good of the community. We’ve read about their tech savvy and their desire for flexible work arrangements. And we’ve witnessed Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers gradually become accustomed to working together in a multi-generational workplace.
Now, however, we’re about to welcome the next generation to the workforce: Gen Z.
Gen Z were born between 1996 and 2006, give or take a few years. The oldest among them are just 20 years old. And they have their own views, values, and objectives that managers need to be aware of in order to foster collaborative, productive workplaces. Here are some of the most important things you need to know about Gen Z:
- While they value education, many will opt out of earning a college degree and pursue alternative learning methods. For decades, earning a college degree was something you had to do in order to get a job. However, with the rising costs of tuition, the average undergraduate has a total student loan debt of $35,000 when he or she leaves college. What’s more: Gen Z knows that numerous Millennials haven’t been able to find a job in their field of study—and without the salary you’d expect with a college degree, debt only piles up. That’s why a lot of young people today take advantage of opportunities such as on-the-job training, boot camps, apprenticeships, work-study programs, online courses and universities, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). As a result, more people will be entering the fulltime workforce at a young age than there have been in previous years. Note that this provides opportunities for employers to build strong relationships with young talent by providing them with the professional training they need.
- News and current events influence their values and decision making. Gen Z grew up in a time of political and economic turmoil, with the 24-hour news cycle and social media providing massive amounts of information from around the world. That’s why their world view is extremely realistic, and they expect to have to work hard to earn a living.
- They’re the most tech-savvy generation yet. Gen Z have always had mobile, wireless technology at their disposal, with apps for everything from playing games to doing homework to investing in stocks. They’re accustomed to the high speed of technological advancement and embrace it instinctively. This allows them to work efficiently and adopt new solutions quickly and effectively.
- They value face-to-face connections. John Boitnott shares in his Inc. article “Generation Z and the Workplace: What You Need to Know,” that despite their use of social media, email, direct messages, and texts, Gen Z value having authentic connections with their supervisors and higher-ups. They value input and feedback, and will put any information you give them to good use.
- They’re highly entrepreneurial. Since they grew up in a time of numerous start-ups in tech and science, Gen Z are attracted to the notion of starting their own company and making a positive impact on the world. Even those who seek fulltime employment bring a strong sense of entrepreneurship to the job. Because of this, they assume more ownership of their work and are highly invested in achieving positive outcomes.
Like each generation before, Gen Z bring their own distinct values to the workplace. When you take the time to truly communicate with them, you’ll soon be able to recognize their motivations and strengths and nurture their talent to the benefit of both employees and employer.
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