Generation Z are people born between 1997 and 2010. That is, modern youth of about 20 years of age, who are just beginning to build a career and are looking to build a life of their own. What makes them different from past generations, the so-called Gen Y and “boomers”? What are they like as employees? What are employers looking for when inviting Z candidates to a position? After all, they have their own peculiarities, strong as well as weak sides. Let’s study this unique set of people.
What kind of employees are Gen Z?
It is generally accepted that for all people, salary is the primary factor in deciding about a job, but Gen Z values salaries less than people of any other generation. If you were to offer Z a choice between a high-paying but boring job and a job that pays average, but every day is full of exciting new challenges, he will definitely choose the later.
Despite the fact that Z are called individualists, it is extremely important for them to have an overarching, clearly identified mission that should be focused on changing and perfecting the world. Moreover, the company should demonstrate its commitments to these aspirations not just in words, but in actions. Participating in promotions and public events would be one such example.
The distinguishing feature of Generation Z and its undeniable advantage is that they are technologically very savvy. This generation was practically born with gadgets in their hands, and gadgets for them are an integral part of everyday life. For this reason, they are loyal to the development of the digital environment and easily adapt to it, are open to new tools and accept innovations with enthusiasm.
Employers hope to find in Generation Z the so-called “Renaissance Man” – an employee with a wide variety of talents, interests and areas of expertise all rolled into one. This requires Z to bring four key work skills to the table:
- the ability to use digital technologies and tools;
- the ability to analyze large amounts of data;
- business and project management skills;
- creative and design skills.
However, in order to attract gen Z candidates and retain them, employers themselves must also conform, and be ready to develop as rapidly as the world around them. Companies should carry these values into the world, trying to make it a better place. It also means developing robust learning and leadership programs with a real and tangible focus on diversity, as Gen Z needs more personalization and comfort in work and career growth.
Natural Born Leaders
Z employees truly make great leaders. However, not everyone realizes that the Zs themselves are much more interested in learning and empowerment. It is not so important for them what their designation in the company is, more important is the quantum of responsibility that the employer is willing to entrust them. When training Z, you need to focus on coaching, not on behavior management. They will never strictly follow the models and templates traditionally followed by the employer – this is not in their nature.
In addition to trust, gen Z needs regular feedback. Without it, they wither like plants would, if not watered regularly. This is due to the active use of social networks: from adolescence (or even earlier), Z people are used to evaluating publications, “adding friends” and such online activity. All of this creates a constant urge for reaction and approval. The lack of feedback unsettles them and makes them think that they have done something wrong.
Flexible and short term
This is the origin of one of the popular Gen Z problems – low tolerance to stress. Stress has long been called the scourge of the 21st century. According to statistics, 37% of Gen Z members are already experiencing the first signs of professional burnout. And they have not reached the age of 20!
To prevent this, employers should encourage short breaks throughout the day, including group coffee breaks. It is worth restricting work related communication on weekends to give Z time to disengage themselves from work and rejuvenate.
The scope of Z should also be diversified: alternating between different types of tasks, allowing them to move between projects and constantly offering opportunity to develop and acquire new skills. Generation Z is more of a sprinter than a marathon runner: they are most effective on urgent tasks that require maximum strength and concentration here and now.
Freedom-loving and hyperactive
Gen Z people are more of lone wolves: they are willing to work for the good of the company, but they need a mentor to help them become one with the team. Therefore, you should not expect them to quickly fit into the corporate culture – strict rules cause them to become restless. In addition, Z is much more productive if you provide them, for example, with a flexible schedule or give them the opportunity to work remotely. After all, almost any task can be performed using a laptop and headphones.
Also, ideally, you should diversify the forms of communication: for example, replace personal meetings with web conferences. For example, in a recent poll, 75% of Gen Z respondents said they would rather handle a difficult work conversation via text messages in instant messenger, rather than via phone calls.
Another peculiarity that Z are known for, and which often puts them in confrontation with other generations, is their hyperactivity and the desire to solve all problems being faced on their own, without having the right set of skills and without asking for help. This same hyperactivity leads Z people to find many traditional career paths too “archaic” or slow. They need constant movement (not necessarily vertical – horizontal is also acceptable) between different roles. Frequent shuffling of assignments and not binding in any rigid routine is the key to keep Z interested and motivated for a longer time.
Honest and mistrustful
Most Z’s are straightforward in nature. Sometimes they may even sound too harsh in their statements, because they prefer to call spade a spade, without equivocation and lyrical digressions. Likewise, they expect the same from their employers.
The best policy when dealing with Z is honesty and sincerity. Forget about hushing up bad news and details. There is no need to use kid gloves with Z. They want to always be aware of events and know what is really happening; otherwise they will quickly lose faith in their team and in what they are doing. Remember, this generation grew up in a world that values transparency and has taught them to value the same. Examples of Hollywood stars who openly talk about their difficult past, ambitions and stupid cases are proof of this, not to mention countless examples from the field of business. A company like Buffer, which created the social media management app of the same name, has started putting up salaries in public domain. All employees know who gets how much, including the management.
At the same time, Generation Z grew up in conditions of information overload and fake news, and therefore treats all incoming information with skepticism. This makes them the most effective for processing and filtering data, searching and locating reliable information, etc. Therefore, you should not pussyfoot around while having a conversation with Z: any suspicion of dishonesty or lies can affect their attitude towards the whole company and, consequently, their output.
Of course, each Gen Z has its own unique characteristics. Someone may still prefer a high salary to variety, while others may prefer social guarantees to overseas business trips. There is also however an obvious uniqueness of the generation as a whole. People born in an era of technological maturity, brought up in a society of prosperity and great opportunities, are very demanding towards both the society and themselves. Perhaps, this is indeed the generation that will be able to restore to the business world those values that were previously lost in the pursuit of big money.