Greta Thunberg is one. So is Kylie Jenner. As is our own Lydia Ko.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Generation Z!
Like the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Xennials and Millennials before them, Gen Z is starting to have a major impact in workplaces and the wider world. And this tidal wave of open-minded, politically motivated, digital natives is only going to get bigger.
Although every employee is unique, it is clear that different generations such as Gen Z bring completely different priorities, values and needs.
The challenge for companies is to first understand their motivations and then create an environment where they can thrive.
Who is Generation Z?
Generation Z will soon surpass Millennials as the most populous generation on earth, with more than one-third of the world’s population counting themselves as Gen Zers.
Born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z are the first generation who have never lived in a world without the internet and they bring both their technological experience and their technological expectations to the workplace.
They’ve been shaped by events like the Global Financial Crisis and have seen the widening wealth gap contribute to greater income inequality. Think house prices that have spiralled out of reach and rising student debt.
What makes a Gen Z tick?
This might come as a big surprise, but these ‘digital kids’ consider human interaction a vital part of work. And this process should begin from the time they come on-board. For example, Gen Z need to be welcomed into the wider ‘multi-generational’ team and given face-to-face guidance and support. If COVID restrictions mean staff are forced to work remotely, opt for a Zoom call rather than a phone call. It’s a subtle difference, but to Gen Z it matters!
Work-life balance is also key. (One study found that only Millennials ranked work-life balance as a higher priority) In simple terms, this means that employers should be mindful of workplace burnout. And should be prepared to offer greater flexibility, for example in leave policies or work scheduling.
Money is important… but.
While salary is the most important factor in deciding on a job, Generation Z values salary less than every other generation.
If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen Z is evenly split over the choice.
To win the hearts of Generation Z, companies and employers will also need to highlight their efforts to be good global citizens. And actions speak louder than words: companies must demonstrate their commitment to global challenges such as sustainability, climate change and hunger.
6 ways to get your workplace ready for Gen Z.
- Gen-Z value on-going feedback, so move away from annual reviews to weekly check-ins.
- Hire smart, talented people and then match them with a role once they are inside your organisation.
- Consider partnering at the university level to adopt top female talent to attract more women candidates for tech roles.
- Set up internal marketplaces to match projects with needed skill sets.
- Leverage the expertise of Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers to help mentor Gen Z into strong leaders.
- Consider the attractiveness of the industry you are in and the reputation of your company and plan accordingly.
The next generation of leaders
Having been tried at a young age, Gen Zers bring a mix of resiliency and humanity to the workplace. By offering structured support to these younger employees, companies will be able to help them become valuable members of the workforce and pave the way for them to be the next generation of leaders.