CGK CEO Denise Villa, Ph.D., and CGK President, Jason Dorsey, were interviewed by Texas CEO Magazine for a feature story to discuss their new book, Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business―and What to Do About It.
The interview with Jason and Dr. Villa was the focus of a 6-page feature story in Texas CEO Magazine. The feature story covered the surprising research-based insights and strategies from their definitive book about Gen Z, which was also a #1 New Release on Amazon.
Here are three insights about Gen Z from the Zconomy interview with Jason and Dr. Villa:
Insight #1 – Gen Z’s Parents Are Primarily Generation X and Older Millennials
As Jason shared with Texas CEO Magazine, “…parenting is often the greatest driver of generational characteristics. In line with that, we see that Gen X is raising their kids differently than Baby Boomers did.” Gen X often view Millennials as entitled (rightly or wrongly) and are raising their kids to not follow the same path. Interestingly, many Millennial parents of Gen Z children tell the CGK research team that they, too, want to make sure their children do not end up acting entitled. Adding to this parenting approach, Gen Z often saw their parents and other adults struggle financially through the Great Recession. This had a significant impact on Gen Z at a very impressionable time in their coming-of-age experience.
As a result, our extensive research shows that Gen Z tends to be more practical with their money than the previous generation. They also expect and look for good value when making purchases. Gen Z are also starting emergency savings accounts at an earlier age and are interested in employers offering employee benefits such as retirement-plan matching. Given how young Gen Z is currently, this propensity toward saving money, being practical with their spending, and seeking employers that offer benefits is surprising and important for parents and leaders to know.
Insight #2 – Gen Z Want to Graduate College with as Little Student Loan Debt as Possible
Another area where Jason and Dr. Villa are seeing Gen Z’s mindset differs from Millennials is when it comes to paying for their college or post-secondary education. Millennials were often told to get into the best college they could, and then everything will work out. The thinking was that getting into an expensive college will pay for itself over time, including the heavy debt load that many Millennials took on even if they did not complete their education. While this advice about paying for college—or delaying paying for college—was well-intentioned, the job market and overall economy didn’t match the advice. As a result, many Millennials are still struggling with large amounts of student loan debt well into their 30s and potentially much longer. This narrative about overwhelming student loan debt has had a big impact on Gen Z’s thinking about paying for college, as well as the advice that Gen Z’s parents given them when it comes to student loan debt and which colleges to consider attending.
CGK’s research shows that Gen Z is seeking to be much more practical in choosing where to go for post-secondary education, how much they are willing to pay, and how far into debt they are willing to go for that educational experience. As Jason shared with Texas CEO Magazine, “With COVID, we’re also seeing Gen Z worry about overpaying for virtual or hybrid college — they don’t want to pay full price without getting the full experience.” This means Gen Z are often taking more classes online, at community college and elsewhere, so they can get a head start of earned college credits into college and then, hopefully, be able to graduate with less college and college-related debt. In addition, a record number of Gen Z are taking a semester off from college or even a gap year as they attempt to wait out both the health impact of the pandemic as well as their desire to continue their education in a better economic environment.
Insight #3 – Mobile is a Must to Recruit, Onboard, Retain, and Engage Gen Z Employees
Dr. Villa and Jason shared with Texas CEO that to increase the number of Gen Z job applicants for a position, companies must make their job application and initial recruiting, hiring, and onboarding steps easy to complete on a mobile device. “Beyond that,” Jason states, “Gen Zers have very specific things they’re looking for when they apply for a job — in particular job stability, scheduling flexibility, and, as I mentioned earlier, good benefits.”
It’s also important to make onboarding and training processes as mobile-driven as possible, especially with an increasingly remote or hybrid workforce. In addition, the onboarding and training need to be both personalized to the Gen Z employee and their needs as well as scalable and trackable to fit the demands of busy managers and HR leaders. The combination of personalization and optimization creates a better learning experience for Gen Z and better outcomes for employers of all sizes and industries.
Lastly, to drive engagement and retention with Gen Z, Jason says, “we find that Gen Z needs frequent communication. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate — it could be a text message or Slack.” Meaningful communication around alignment and “quick-hit feedback” helps show your Gen Z employees that you value them as team members. In practice, this may even mean less communication than managers have given in the past, but greater frequency of communication to drive that engagement, teamwork, and alignment toward must-achieve outcomes. This is especially important in a hybrid or remote work environment.
What are More Ways Leaders Can Adapt Now To Drive Results with Gen Z?
If Gen Z, who are now up to age 25, are important to the future of your business, career, or community, read a copy of Dr. Villa and Jason’s full interview with Texas CEO Magazine. You can also read more and order your own copy of their bestselling Gen Z book, Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business―and What to Do About It, on Amazon.