Move over, millennials! It’s time to make room in the workplace for Generation Z. Members of this group who didn’t go to college are already joining the workforce. And now, with the eldest among this generation currently finishing their degrees, a wave of new candidates will soon be arriving at the job market.
Gen Z is generally defined as people born between 1995 and 2010. This group is a very populous generation, even larger than Gen X or millennials. Gen Z is composed of 61 million people, and it’s anticipated that they’ll dramatically transform the workplace.
While Gen Z shares many traits with millennials, they cannot necessarily be lumped into the same group, as they also have many preferences that differ in significant ways. Here are some things employers should know about Gen Z.
Similarities Gen Z shares with millennials
Some overlap in age-related preferences occurs among any adjacent generations, so it’s no surprise Gen Z and millennials have much in common. Here are some of the primary preferences and interests the groups share when it comes to working conditions, environments, and habits.
- Technology — Both millennials and Gen Zers are pretty reliant upon their technology. Gen Z, however, has kicked connectivity to a whole new level. Being digital natives, they have never experienced life without technology and social media. They are used to immediate access to information and services. Due to this, they have a tendency to get anxious when cut off from technology.
- Flexibility — The millennial and Gen Z populations both hold flexibility as an important value when it comes to work. These employees will seek jobs that offer generous vacation time, remote work options (this is a biggie!), and a healthy work-life balance. Statistically speaking, a large number of Americans routinely forfeit vacation days, but Gen Z and millennials are more likely to use them. That being said, these two hyperconnected generations are also more likely to blur the line between work and life while managing to maintain a good equilibrium — and flexibility enables them to do so.
- Modern office spaces — Companies that are upgrading their technology to prepare for the future also might want to consider updating their office spaces, too. Businesses have been steadily ditching structured or cubicle layouts in favor of open concept workspaces. Both millennials and Gen Z thrive in these kinds of sociable, collaborative environments.
- Healthy environments — Both generations are markedly health-conscious and heavily value keeping fit, relaxed, and in good physical shape — even in the workplace. Traditional desks are fine, but offering employees a choice is even better. Consider integrating flexi-seating or standing desks in offices. They provide the flexibility both millennials and Gen Z love, along with preventing repetitive stress injuries.
The good news is that companies paying attention to millennial preferences and integrating changes to accommodate them are ahead of the game at being prepared for Gen Z. Companies that have yet to make these updates still have some time to catch up — but they should do it soon or risk missing out on these generations’ emerging talent pool.
Differences between Gen Z and millennials
Clearly, there are numerous similarities between Gen Z and millennials, but don’t let these fool you: There are some definitive differences, as well. Employers who can recognize these and accommodate them will find it easier to manage all generations under the same corporate umbrella.
- Competition vs. collaboration — Millennials are definitely team-oriented, placing a high value in collaboration. In contrast, Gen Z, while willing to be team players, are more independent and competitive when compared to their older counterparts. These are go-getters who like to push themselves independently.
- Salary vs. security — Gen Zers were at an impressionable age when they watched their parents struggle through the Great Recession. Consequently, they place a high importance on job security. With that in mind, though, if Gen Z workers don’t get what they seek, they also aren’t afraid to job-hop if the right opportunity comes along. Numbers suggest they are 3 times more likely to change jobs than those from previous generations.
- Education vs. entrepreneurship — As a result of hearing a decade of reports of millennial student debt, the Gen Z population takes a unique view on education. Gen Z members are less likely to have finished college than anyone from previous generations. They actively seek alternate forms of education, along with mentors who can help guide them. Many of them prefer entrepreneurship and are using social media as a launch pad toward that goal.
Employers able to appeal to these three primary Gen Z characteristics will find they’ve positioned themselves to be an attractive employer when looking to fill the projected talent gap in much-need job positions.
Embracing Gen Z preferences = smart strategy
Embracing Gen Z preferences sooner than later is a smart approach. And since they do share so much in common with millennials, it’s a win-win strategy; many transformations will benefit and attract both generational talent. With millennials steadily reaching leadership and decision-making levels, it’s going to happen anyway, so why not get a jump on the competition? Here are some good ways to embrace Gen Z and their specific preferences.
- Revitalize recruiting methods — Traditional recruiting approaches and want ads won’t work with Gen Z. They’ll better respond to smart branding, preferential work environments, and desired benefits — and access to this information through tech channels.
- Invest in smart tech — Companies looking at smart tech options for the office are placing themselves in a better competitive position, from hiring practices to sales and marketing, and everything in between. Why not start sooner than later?
- Gravitate toward the cloud and apps — Modern workplaces are heavily transitioning to digital ways of working, be it file storage and access, scheduling, online conferences, task updates, or correspondence and instant communication.
- Offer mentoring — Career development opportunities, mentoring relationships, and meaningful work appeal to Gen Z’s desire to learn without the hefty price tag — and perhaps could negate their propensity to job-hop.
Essentially, Gen Z has a huge desire to help create and shape culture. The integration of technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things is happening fast, and Generation Z will likely be the first generation to naturally embrace the changes without resistance. With Gen Z employees on board for this transition, employers will find themselves readier to charge forward with updated marketing, sales, and fulfillment strategies for the future of their businesses.