A new generation — gen Z — is entering the full-time workforce. It's time to learn how their expectations and goals can mesh successfully with your workplace culture.
Generation Z is the age group after millennials, but it’s surprising how many people haven’t heard of them yet, considering there are 65 million in the United States alone.
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As they are progressing through college, Gen Z is entering the workforce now, meaning that it’s important for internal communications managers and HR directors to know what makes this generation different from the previous ones.
Each difference has its own benefits and areas to be watchful for.
This post will outline how Gen Z is different from millennials and how they are going to affect the workplace and company culture in the years to come.
Gen Z: Who Are They?
This age group is the first one to grow up with and be fully reliant on technology as a means of communication with friends and family.
Concordia University, St. Paul also reports that the majority spend at least ten hours a day on an electronic device. That is a large amount of each day spent on a digital device where this age group can connect with brands, family, friends, and influencers.
Gen Zers are also much more open to different ways of expression. Because of this, they are looking for ways to improve society as a whole, whether that be supporting good causes to changing the political landscape of the country.
How Gen Z Differ from Millennials
McKinsey reports that because millennials are the “me generation”, they are less willing to accept different points of view compared to Gen Z, who are much more open-minded.
Gen Zers are called the "first digital natives" and brands are using online platforms and apps to reach out to them because of this. According to Social Media Today, many brands are using apps like Instagram and Snapchat to connect with this age group, which has an estimated spending power of $29 to $143 billion.
Another key differentiator in the way millennials and Gen Z use social media is what they are hoping to get out of it.
Millennials enjoy using social media to connect with their friends and loved ones. Gen Z, on the other hand, are more likely to use it as entertainment. This means Gen Z is just ask likely to follow social media influencers as they are their own family and friends.
When consuming online content, Gen Z prefers a visual approach through graphics and video, instead of a text-based format, as millennials enjoy. This is why Instagram and Snapchat continue to be so popular amongst Gen Z.
Gen Z Is Changing the Workplace
Communication, values, and working style of the Gen Z cohort is different than previous generations.
As a result, there will be a continuous progressive shift in the way our workplaces operate today.
Gen Z is used to communicating through technology since they are the first age group to now know what the world was like before the internet.
According to the Seattle Times, Gen Z connects with employers better through experiencing what working for them is like, rather than long brochures or HR pitches.
Employers trying to recruit Gen Z also use texting, Snapchat, and other popular platforms for marketing and recruit communication.
This also means that heavy communication through technology is to be expected as these incoming new professionals make their way into the workplace.
However, it doesn’t mean that Gen Zers don’t want to meet face-to-face.
A study by Millennial Branding found that 53 percent of Gen Z respondents said they preferred to meet in person instead of talking over email or chat.This is different than millennials, who much preferred communication through email, chat, and video.
In terms of personality, Gen Z is also more outspoken and vocal about issues when they arise. Instead of putting their heads down and stepping around the problem, Gen Zers prefer to address it head-on.
The research by Concordia University, St. Paul mentioned previously reports that this group are very competitive and want to be rewarded for merit and what they have accomplished, making them good employees that enjoy getting things done.
How to Get Your Workplace Ready for Generation Z
There are a few changes that companies can do to remain competitive and appealing to Gen Z employees.
Most of it deals with having constant communication through technology.
Gen Zers want to keep up with the company news and be able to collaborate with their colleagues in an effective way.
An employee communications platform such as Smarp is one of the best channels to connect and engage with the Gen Z employees.
With this platform you encourage them to react to the latest company news, create their own posts, and catch up with the latest industry news. It’s one of the best ways to connect and empower them!
Having a lot of company documentation and features online (such as a benefits portal where you could ask for days off or review past pay stubs) appeals to Gen Z because they are used to accessing information online for the majority of their day.
Any antiquated policies like manual requests, reporting, or phone processes may be seen as a burden to Gen Z talent, as they figure there is always a faster way to do something with technology.
According to convene, here are some other characteristics of the workplace that Gen Z enjoys:
- Clear goals for their role
- Personal and educational development opportunities
- Personal space
- Defined work areas (e.g. collaborative seating areas or conference rooms)
In short, providing collaborative and private areas throughout the office where employees can focus and collaborate when they need to to get things done.
They also care about what they are doing for a career many don't see a job "as just a paycheck" and prefer to be in both a field or role they enjoy and working at a company that represents their values and goals.
When it comes to company culture, this means that your business should focus on things such as:
- Collaborative workspaces around the office so people have the freedom to work where they want
- Up-to-date technology so it's easy to communicate via video and conferencing with employees that aren't in the office
- The ability to work from home
- Fun, competitive activities like ping pong tournaments and 5Ks to appeal to Gen Z's competitive nature
- Internal learning development so employees can continue to learn more about the industry
- Transparency so employees feel respected and clear about where the company is going and where they currently stand
- Open door policies go hand in hand with transparency meetings to build a relationship with employees
- Flat organization (as much as possible) so employees feel empowered to connect with the executive
- Feedback opportunities so the employees themselves can share what they want out of a company
Companies need to have an open mind and be open to what employees say they want and are looking for in company culture.
In short, it takes a combination of appealing to Generation Z's interests and wants, as well as looking to remain competitive in the talent marketplace as a whole.
As more and more companies are switching to hiring more remote employees or allowing for flexible work schedules, it's important to keep up-to-date with what hires are looking for.
Relying on past benefits programs or offices won’t lead to happy employees. It takes more work to shift culture, but it pays off because a company can attract better talent and have a lower turnover rate.
By considering the wants and needs of Generation Z employees, HR can set their organization up for success for decades to come.
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