Though much of today’s workforce discussion has focused on millennials, as well as baby boomers gradually entering retirement, another generation is now arising in the conversation. Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010, is starting to join the workforce. As the first generation to exist entirely in the digital age, Gen Zers are expected to bring unique points of view and habits to offices.
But what distinguishes this demographic from other generations? And how can you help them reach their full career potential? Consider these strategies when preparing for Generation Z in the workplace.
What Gen Z Is and Is Not
It can be tempting to think of Gen Zers in the same way we think of millennials, ascribing a preference for fringe benefits and collaborative office environments to all younger employees. But Gen Z employees are not millennials. In fact, in their independence and pragmatism, they’re actually quite different from their immediate predecessors. So, what defines this new generation?
A recent research project reveals four main behaviors of Gen Zers:
Avoiding labels and favoring authentic expression.
Participating in activism for a wide range of causes.
Believing that effective dialogue and conversations are the best problem-solving approach.
Taking an analytical and pragmatic approach to decision-making.
These behaviors are all oriented toward the pursuit of truth, no matter the circumstance. The same research team believes that the prosperity and self-awareness of millennials causes them to be more confrontational, with strong ideals and less acceptance of nonconforming views. What may have worked for millennials will not necessarily be best for emerging Gen Z adults.
But though these traits are considered the most common for the age group, it’s never a good idea to generalize. No one study can pin down all of the eccentricities of an entire generation—it’s just not possible. Give Gen Zers the opportunity to work hard and prove what they can do on their own terms.
Workplace Culture With a New Generation
Knowing a bit more about what Gen Z typically values, what can you do to help them thrive? Though this generation doesn’t characteristically expect (or want) to be catered to, it’s a sign of empathy and cooperation to try to meet them halfway.
Like their millennial counterparts, these young workers typically see digital tools as allowing for more flexible work arrangements. In turn, this generation expects some amount of remote work and telecommuting, if appropriate. Consider if arrangements like a work-from-home Friday or flexible time off policy can work with existing business operations.
Accountability should also be prioritized. This generation is likely to benefit from clear guidelines and expectations, and will want to be evaluated on their individual performance and role in achieving goals. Leadership roles should be conferred based on merit and achievements, not simply seniority. For performance reviews, clearly detail their strengths and abilities, as well as what they individually bring to the team.
And don’t forget about learning development. Gen Z values personal growth and lifelong education. Consider giving them a stipend for coursework, professional conferences, or other outside development. This shows that your company is invested in its employees and places a premium on personal growth. Think beyond traditional tuition-reimbursement benefits to avenues like one-on-one mentorship programs.
If you make or sell products or services, you’ll find that Gen Z workers are more likely to embrace the values they share. This group sees consumption as an expression of individual identity and a matter of ethical concern. If you can show that you share these values, you’ll attract this group organically.
The great thing about company culture is it’s whatever you make of it. Make room for Gen Z, just as you did for millennials and baby boomers before them, and you’ll be opening the door to a diverse workforce that thrives and collaborates.
Looking for more ways to attract Gen Zers to your workforce? Consider these tips on running your business from United Concordia Dental.