Generation Z has officially entered the workforce, and that means one question for managers: Are you ready for Gen Z in the workplace?
In recent years, Gen Z has proven to be ambitious change-makers who are conscious about how they present themselves to the world, as well as about the climate and social issues. While no generation is a monolith, and Gen Z has many things in common with previous generations, this cohort is also known for having a different outlook on life and work.
Younger millennials and Gen Z are also distinct because they grew up with technology being ubiquitous in their lives, even before joining the workforce. And, since the pandemic, their professional careers have been disrupted, leading them to seek out jobs that utilize advanced technology, offer work-life balance, demonstrate opportunities for career growth and align with the new way of work.
Gen Z is the future of work, and recruiting these workers is an imperative for companies with ambitious growth plans. Let’s learn more about Gen Z and how today’s leaders and workplaces can do more to hire, onboard and develop this generation.
Benefits of Gen Z Employees
Every generation has its strong points in the world of work. There are many benefits to hiring Gen Z employees, and here are three that you should consider when looking to recruit and onboard this younger generation of professionals.
They’re Digital Natives
Technology has become an integral part of our society. It has affected how we think, learn, communicate and more. But unlike previous generations, where technology was a feature but not the defining feature, Gen Z professionals grew up as digital natives, routinely exposed to and using much of today’s modern tech.
Many older professionals didn’t have to worry about being known outside their immediate circles and community, much less earning a potentially global reputation. Gen Z professionals have had the opposite experience, as social media allows people to connect from anywhere.
Another illustration of Gen Z’s comfort with digital technologies is with workplace processes. The pandemic has changed how many things are done, including how we connect and communicate with one another. Increasingly, workplace and customer interactions occur in digital spaces.
This lack of face-to-face interaction has also left many companies struggling to update their day-to-day processes, much less effectively hire, onboard and build culture. Gen Zers, by contrast, are more comfortable and experienced with interactions through online channels.
Having workers who are comfortable with digital channels and tools, and who can quickly and efficiently adapt, will make your company more agile and effective.
They’re Autonomous Workers
Gen Z professionals are believed to be more autonomous in their work than older generations. This is also a social cohort that wants to meet people and to be around their co-workers.
Companies need both skill sets in the modern workplace. They need employees who can band together as part of a team and collaborate as needed, including in person. They also need people who can go off on their own to get work done — projects, research or other tasks where it’s a one-person job.
Especially in workplaces that are embracing hybrid and remote work, people who can take ownership and responsibility for their work can be especially efficient.
They’re Learners and Teach Others, Too
People across generations can learn from each other, and this cuts both ways. It’s not just younger people learning from older generations, but also older generations learning through reverse mentoring and other methods. Life and work are constantly changing, and the pandemic has been the biggest reminder of this truth.
However, many younger workers, including Gen Z, are struggling to find mentors. Women and minorities, especially, are often less likely to identify with a co-worker who can ask to be a mentor. And not every mentor is actually good at it. Mentoring itself has also changed with the pandemic and the reduction of in-person interaction.
Managers and leaders can’t effectively lead without listening to the opinions of others — specifically, those in non-management roles or those who are new to the field. Gen Zers have insights into the virtual world, social media’s inner workings and other emerging trends, all of which are needed in this new landscape.
They may be young people, but they’ve gained a lot of experience.
What Gen Z Wants in the Workplace
Workers of all ages are reexamining their lives in the wake of the pandemic and prioritizing other things besides work. Gen Z is no different, and here are just a few of the things many workers in this cohort expect from employers.
Better Work-Life Balance
The world of work is disrupted. Meetings look different, learning and development is more accessible, and people aren’t afraid of leaving a job that doesn’t align with their values and priorities. The changes in recent years have affected everyone, but Gen Z has repeatedly borne the brunt of that effect.
Studies suggest that Gen Z has experienced more pandemic-related stress, anxiety and adverse employment outcomes during the past two years. And while hard work and dedication are essential to Gen Zers, having a better work-life balance is what they need most. That includes flexible work hours and the ability to work remotely at least some of the time.
If you’re going to make promises about supporting employees with work-life balance, you’ll need to do more than just speak it. True commitment requires that action is taken to help push your employees away from burnout and toward success.
Professional Growth and Development
In a 2020 study by Deloitte, many Gen Zers consider professional development a leading priority when considering joining a company. These employees want to start a job with certain skills and exit with even more.
This generation wants to work for companies that genuinely invest in their well-being. Creating clear opportunities for employee professional development can help boost engagement and improve internal communication.
To grow your business and retain great employees, you need to show your commitment to developing talent. The more skills Gen Z workers obtain, the more value they add to the company and their own career — and the more likely they are to stick around.
Job Security and Financial Security
The economy is uncertain right now. With rising prices for basic needs, many companies issuing layoffs and general economic uncertainty, Gen Zers want stability. They want a role that can give them a stable paycheck so they can focus on everything else in their lives.
Gen Z encountered a high level of job loss in the pandemic, as many were working retail and customer service jobs that had to shut down to ensure the public’s safety. This generation still wants flexibility in where and when they work, but they also want to be assured that their jobs won’t be yanked away.
A Commitment to DEI
According to a study conducted by Monster.com, 83% of Gen Zers said they want to join a company committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. They aren’t afraid of leaving companies that don’t invest in diversity, equity and inclusion.
These DEI efforts extend to every aspect of the workplace. Whether it’s hiring from underrepresented groups, policies related to climate change or social stances, Gen Zers want to work with a company that genuinely cares about creating a better world, not just a better workplace.
Flexible Employee Benefits
Employees today, including many in Gen Z, are looking for different benefits than past generations. Offering a lot of paid time off to Gen Z job candidates isn’t sufficient anymore..
Gen Zers are pushing for more than the medical, life insurance, retirement plans and disability insurance companies typically offer to full-time employees. While those benefits are essential, this cohort wants to take things further. They are looking at how companies care about people’s entire well-being.
Such benefits desired by Gen Z and other workers include mental health days, stipends for wellness, student loan debt forgiveness — the latter especially important as the cost of schooling has increased and people are left with high levels of debt and financial instability.
Providing these non-traditional benefits can help differentiate your company when recruiting Gen Z professionals and increase engagement with all generations in your workplace.
Differences Between Gen Z and Millennials
Gen Z and millennials have many things in common, but they don’t always operate the same in the workplace. While not every Gen Z or millennial worker is the same, in general, differences between these cohorts include:
- Gen Zers prefer to work independently compared with millennials.
- Gen Zers are more likely to job-hop, while millennials are more likely to stay at a job longer.
- Millennials look to finances to catch up on their bills, while Gen Z sees it as a way to get ahead.
There are already multiple generations in the workforce, and Gen Z is the latest that companies need to pay attention to, especially when it comes to recruiting, onboarding and retention. So, are you ready for Gen Z in the workplace?
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