Are we ready for Generation Z?
Last November, I looked at what Millennials want from their employers and the importance of attracting this large chunk of the workforce to our businesses.
So, this article, then, is the obvious sequel.
First up: a reminder of the chronology for those that need one:
Generation X were born between 1965 and 1980.
Generation Y (the Millennials) were born between 1981 and 1996.
Generation Z were born between 1997 & 2010.
This means that Gen Z can’t possibly be invading the workforce. Can they?
I’m sure I’ve still got socks from 1997 in active use...
Well, sadly, my calculator tells me that the oldest Gen Z-ers are now 24 years old!
(I might throw those socks away now.)
So, the biggest question (aside from where do we go next with the nomenclature now that we’ve foolishly used up the last three letters of the alphabet) is: what will Gen Z want in their workplaces? Or, rather, what do they already want? And are we ready for them?
After all, it is an undeniable and inescapable fact that the number of Gen Z folk in our workforce is only going to increase from here.
Here’s a brief summary of what we know so far:
Human interaction still matters
These guys may be the first fully "digital generation" (I think they are born with an innate knowledge of touch-screen technology), but they still crave some human interaction at work. A little bit like today’s employees wanting to work flexibly but not alone, Gen Z-ers want some human element included in their work, comms and interactions to complement their tech'-enhanced workspace.
At the simple end of the scale, this could include video chats instead or (or at least as well as) phone calls. But a more in-depth comms health check could highlight areas where that human touch can be integrated into the tech’ that allows for a dispersed, even international, workforce. Similarly, embracing audience engagement tools for remote meetings or large-scale events can add the extra interactivity they need.
Work-life balance is vital
The younger generations are rightly more focused on getting the job done than clocking in and out at set times. As with Millennials, a healthy work-life balance is expected by Gen Z to go hand-in-hand with this. Flexible working is more of ‘a normal’ for this generation, and they are highly likely to be tech-savvy enough to work seamlessly with whichever platforms they are presented to facilitate this.
They have a healthy view of failure
According to research by EY, Gen Z are unafraid of stepping outside of their comfort zone or making mistakes, seeing the latter as a way of learning, rather than something to be ashamed of.
Perhaps this is a viewpoint that would benefit more of us! But very much tied in with this is that…
Feedback is a necessity
That EY research showed that a whopping 97% of Gen Z are receptive to receiving feedback “on an ongoing basis or after completing a task”. 63% prefer to receive timely feedback throughout the year, so relying on the old Annual Appraisal just won’t cut it with these guys. In fact, the State of Gen Z report claimed that two-thirds of Gen Z workers “need feedback from their supervisor every few weeks or more to stay in their job”. (I can tell you that this will be a huge culture shock for a couple of my previous employers!)
As well as frequent, your Gen Z people will want feedback that is measurable and trackable. Forward-thinking employers that want to get ahead now could revisit their comms strategy to ensure they have the channels or platforms to make this a pain-free reality.
A final word about their apparent preferences for management: perhaps unsurprisingly, 77% of Gen Z would prefer a Millennial manager over one from Gen X or before. If you find yourself managing those from Gen Z and you’re not a Millennial, you may want to embrace the things that make Millennials tick – and so I refer you back to that article with which I opened this piece!