If you’re tired of hearing about Generation Y (i.e., Millennials) and what they like, don’t like, and want from work, you’re in luck! Generation Z (or whatever they’ll eventually be called) is in high school, and that means they’ll be entering the work-force in just a few short years. Time to get ready!
Who is Generation Z?
A report by Knoll Workplace Research characterizes Generation Z (born after 1998 and counting) as:
- Appreciating order and structure
- Having a strong work ethic
- Valuing predictability
- Being good at online collaborations but having weak face-to-face and conflict resolution skills
- Good at multi-tasking but susceptible to distractions
Why Does It Matter?
While it may seem premature to be thinking about this stuff now (after all, Gen Z is composed of teens, pre-teens, and those not even born yet), when Gen Z first enters the workforce, they’ll be joining Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers. That’s a big deal.
The author of “Baby Boomers Still Got Game; Where Does That Leave Gen X, Gen Y?” put it this way:
“This unprecedented generational smorgasbord is enough to turn even a Millennial’s hair gray. From attitudes about work and career to vacation schedules to training and development, each generation has different needs and wants. Breaking down barriers and bridging gaps is no task for the faint of the heart, naïve, or unprepared.”
Getting Ready for Gen Z
If your workplace is like most, it’s already multi-generational. That means you already have some first-hand knowledge of the various wants, needs, and expectations of the different generations. Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention and adjusting your work policies and procedures accordingly. If not, perhaps now is your chance to get a second bite of that apple.
Here then, are a few ways employers can start getting ready for Gen Z.
Develop a succession plan. People move on and no one lives forever, so a succession plan makes sense no matter who’s coming of age, but many companies continue to struggle with succession planning despite the direct and indi-rect benefits of having one.
A 2015 study by Software Advice, an HR and recruiting technology research company, found that 62% of employees would be “significantly more engaged” if their company had a succession plan, and more than 90% of workers aged 18 to 34 said a succession plan would “improve” their level of engagement.
Now combine those stats with these finding in a recent report by Robert Half International titled “Get Ready for Gen-eration Z” — 32% of Gen Z expects to be managing people 5 years out of college, and another 20% expect to be making their way up the corporate ladder. The bottom line? Gen Z will come into the workforce expecting to move on up or move on out. Smart employers will begin creating those career paths now.
Review your total compensation. Cash compensation has always been important, but cash is not the end all be all. Affordable medical and generous retirement benefits may be especially important to this generation that craves stability, and employers shouldn’t overlook the lure of flexibility and short commutes, either.
Ramp up employee development efforts. According to that Robert Half study mentioned earlier, Generation Z is comprised of learners who are “used to being taught.” Employers should take note of this depiction for two reasons: (1) by all reports, these workers will come to the job with a shortage of writing and “soft” skills (so they’re going to need learning, but employers can take comfort knowing they’re at least receptive to it) and (2) much like the Millenni-als, Generation Z will be more likely to stick with a job that provides continuous learning opportunities.
There are plenty of people who think “generational differences” are a bunch of bunk. We disagree. It’s true that not every-one born in a certain year will think and act a specific way, but there are enough commonalities to make a discussion worthwhile.
Is your company getting ready for Gen Z? Why or why not?