It’s early days for Generation Z (also known as iGen or Post-Millennials) in the workplace. Researchers and writers paint their own pictures of this post-millennial population with different characteristics. Some say they’re confident, entrepreneurial. Others say not so much.
So What Do We Know About The Generation Z Workforce And How Can HR Professionals Prepare?
The following facts, assumptions, and implications will assuredly stimulate dialogue and trigger new ways of thinking.
FACT: There are 65 million of this generation in the United States.
FACT: They make up the largest percentage of the population (25.9%).
FACT: By 2020 they will account for one-third of the U.S. population.
FACT: Born between 1995 and 2010, the oldest are just entering the workforce.
Generation Z’s Financial Standpoint
EARLY OBSERVATIONS: This demographic cohort following the millennials aren’t big spenders. They’d rather save.
EARLY OBSERVATION: When it comes to work, they value salary over anything else.
ASSUMPTION: Many will opt out of a traditional post-secondary education to avoid the associated debt load that comes without a job guarantee. They’re motivated to get a jump on their careers and build their bank accounts as early as possible. Online learning will fill their knowledge gaps.
ASSUMPTION: They’re big on individuality and independence. Self-learning is a case in point.
IMPLICATIONS: Compensation will be a key recruiting, engagement, and retention tool. Although a horizontal experiential structure or vertical corporate-ladder structure may not allow for many promotional opportunities, an outline of compensation benchmarks with a clear incremental income path may be helpful. Organizations may miss hiring self-taught, evolving top talent if applicants without formal higher education are overlooked. Online training will play a huge role in professional growth and development. Budgets will need to address increased internal and external learning requests.
A Technology-Driven Generation
FACT: The Generation Z population grew up with mobile devices. They don’t know a world without. They’re the first true digital natives.
OBSERVABLE FACT: They’re finessed multi-taskers. As students, they’ll create a document on their school computer, do research on their phone or tablet, while taking notes on a notepad, then finish in front of the TV with a laptop, while face-timing a friend.
OBSERVABLE FACT: Gen Z tends to expect everything to be available “now.” The bulk of their communications are tweets and sound bites and quick video clips of information.
ASSUMPTION: They process information faster than other generations.
IMPLICATIONS: Formal, carefully crafted corporate communiques and scripted long-winded presentations won’t fly. This hyper-digital group will be looking for written and verbal informality. They’ll want to get information and answers fast through their mobile devices. Organizations will need to anticipate and accommodate these expectations.
Food And HealthWise
OBSERVABLE FACT: They’re a health-conscious bunch.
OBSERVABLE FACT: Rather than consult doctors and other medical practitioners, they tend to turn to friends, family and online sources for health information.
IMPLICATIONS: From nutritional, organic and healthful cafeteria options to fitness programs and wellness support resources, health and well-being will take on a heightened role in recruitment, retention, and engagement among this group.
The Most Diverse Generation
FACT: Gen Z is the most racially diverse generation in America. The Census Bureau found that 48% of Gen Z is non-Caucasian.
FACT: Members of Gen Z are also the most likely to say they have friends of a different sexual orientation (59%).
OBSERVABLE FACT: A recent data-driven report suggests they’re a remarkably diverse cohort, on track to be the last in America with a Caucasian majority. As kids of the Obama presidency and the Clinton candidacy, they’ve never lived through a time when people of either gender or any racial background couldn’t become President.
IMPLICATIONS: Diversity and inclusion will become a stronger driver of employee engagement more than ever. Generation Z will expect their egalitarian racial, sexual, and gender principles to be mirrored by their employer.
Generation Z’s Top Five Drivers:
Are these facts, observations, presumptions and implications truly unique to Generation Z? Or are they reflective of an inexperienced mindset that mirrors the sentiments of preceding generations in their youth? There are distinct differences to be sure: digital savvy being one. How these differences play out lies firmly with your organization’s ability to detect and respond to change. Employee survey solutions like entry surveys, stay surveys, engagement surveys, and exit surveys are your window into their world.