Seventeen million members of Gen Z are about to enter the workforce, and they are bringing their unique attitudes, experiences, and expectations with them.
Let us be clear: Gen Z are not a continuation of Millennials. In fact, researchers are comparing them more to the Traditionalist, or Silent, Generation that came of age during the Great Depression and World War II. Gen Z came of age during the Great Recession, terror threats, school shootings, and they’ve never known a world without smartphones and social media. All of these factors have made this generation economically cautious, tech-savvy, and hard-working.
What does this mean for employers?
Gen Z is willing to work hard for financial security. The oldest Gen Zers are more interested in making work a central part of their lives and are more willing to work overtime than most Millennials. Millennials are all about work-life balance, but Gen Z will work extra if it means benefits and security.
Gen Z’s conservative financial view is directly tied to seeing their Millennial predecessors drowning in student debt.
Denise Villa, CEO of the Center for Generational Kinetics, explained to the Wall Street Journal that focus groups show some Gen Z members are intentionally choosing less-expensive, lower-status colleges to lessen debt loads.
How can employers manage Gen Z?
- Be up front. Gen Z employees want managers who will step in to help them handle uncomfortable situations like conflicts with co-workers and provide granular feedback.
- Understand their mental state. Gen Z is reporting higher levels of anxiety and depression as teens and young adults than previous generations. According to a UCLA study, about one in eight college freshmen felt depressed frequently in 2016.
- Provide them tools for success. Gen Z feels most comfortable with mobile technology, so optimize your job applications, interview questions, and training documents so they can be answered and submitted on a smartphone.
Though it might take some adjustments, it is possible to achieve a workplace in which all of the generations – from Gen Z entry-level positions to Gen X and Baby Boomer managers – feel comfortable and thrive.
Want to Solve Your Gen Z Challenges?
We lead national and international Gen Z, Millennial, and generational studies for our clients every day. We also keynote events around the world, helping businesses better understand their customers and workforce.
Let us know how we can help you. Send us an email or give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide a little information for you to review.