Have you worked tirelessly to establish a workplace environment and policies perfectly tailored for attracting Millennial talent?
If so, great work! It’s time to do it again.
Gen Z, a generation of 60 million young Americans born between 1996 and 2011, is now only a few years away from entering the workforce.
And if you assume Gen Z will be similar to Millennials with the hopes that your Millennial workplace will satisfy the Gen Z workforce, you may be sorely disappointed.
Here is what you need to know about Gen Z to prepare your workplace for their arrival and to avoid missing out on the wave of young talent they are sure to bring.
Who is Gen Z?
Born after 9/11, knowing nothing of the dark pre-social-media age, and raised in a recession while playing videogames with their unemployed Millennial siblings, Gen Zers are a distinct generation all their own.
Coming of age amidst the Great Recession and wars in the Middle East, their place in history has molded the traits that define Gen Z. Traits which, as Alex Williams notes in the New York Times, more closely resemble the Baby Boomers than any other recent generation.
They are a generation that wants stability. They want to make an impact on the world. They value authenticity. They are socially accepting. And they also show signs of being fairly nice compared to other generations.
And that is all well and good. Many employers will be excited about welcoming any generation other than Millennials. But how do employers cater to this young and massive generation?
Loyalty and Stability are Critical For Attracting Gen Z
During the last 10 years, Millennials and employers have developed an unfortunate understanding: both see the other as replaceable, and neither expects any long-term loyalty from the other.
With Gen Z, employers may be able to bank on more long-term loyalty. As Jeremy Finch reports on FastCompany, “We found that while Gen Z like the idea of working for themselves, the majority are risk-averse, practical, and pragmatic” and that Gen Z is shying away from the flashiness of developing the next great app and instead “…are biased in favor of financial stability.”
They show their pragmatism through their desire to be trained and invested in by traditional employers. In fact, “84% of new grads expect to receive formal, on-the-job training.”
The reward for employers willing to invest in Gen Z appears to be loyalty. According to members of Gen Z studied, “62% [saying] they expect to stay at their first job for at least three years,” a far cry from the job hopping Millennials.
This presents a big shift in how employers and employees relate to one another. If you are an employer who does not want to miss out on the talent coming from Gen Z’s, the message is clear: invest in them. Provide them the professional development opportunities they crave and in return for your investment you will receive the loyalty you may not have ever received from Millennials.
They Want You To Help Them Save the World
Gen Zers have made it clear to retailers during their teen years that if retailers want their money, they need to actively demonstrate social responsibility. Think Tom’s shoes or Warby Parker. These are socially conscious companies whose brands are closely tied with their effort to make the world a better place.
And when they hit the workforce, they are going to expect the same from employers.
Though still in college now, employers can expect job interviews with Gen Z to be peppered with questions about your company’s values, its efforts to support the local community, its CSR policy and what volunteer opportunities you offer your employees.
And employers damn well better have a genuine, authentic answer.
Because Gen Z doesn’t just talk the talk: 26% of Gen Zers are already volunteering and 76% are concerned with man’s impact on the planet. They have a genuine belief that they can change the world and they are going to expect their employers to help them in their mission to do so.
Flexibility and Openness for Employers is Big
Though Gen Z is more cautious and willing to succeed within “the system,” they will also be expecting the continuation of progressive workplace policies that emphasize multiculturalism, acceptance of all people, and work-life balance.
Employers need to keep in mind Gen Z’s historical context: they come on the heels of social changes that have seen a 400% increase in multiracial marriages, a 50% increase in multiracial youth, and less emphasis on gender roles. Gen Z has also grown up with a black president, legal gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana in several states.
What does all of this mean? If employers want the loyalty that Gen Z potentially offers, they need to make sure that their workplace environments and policies reflect the world that Gen Z has been raised in. That includes everything from the obvious (equal pay for men and women) to more creative flexible schedules, telecommuting opportunities, and other work-life balance benefits.
The good news about adjusting your workplace for the incoming Gen Zers is that those adjustments will result in a better workplace environment overall. What workplace couldn’t benefit from more professional development opportunities for staff, starting social conscious and CSR initiatives or making workplace policies more in line with the times?
As I always like to remind people, each generation has its own quirks, but they are all share more similarities than they have differences. It is universal human nature to want to have a meaningful experience at work, have the opportunity to learn, and be accepted by their colleagues. It will be the employers who understand these foundational human values that will be able to evolve fast enough to harness the young talent that sits on the horizon.