First came Gen X.
Then Gen Y (usually referred to as the Millennials).
After Y, of course, comes Z.
Gen Z is the generation born from 1994 to 2010. This generation numbers approximately 23 million. Its oldest members are in their late teens and early twenties and hitting the workforce now.
Just like their Millennial siblings, they are making quite the impact.
What gave Gen Z their current worldview?
Gen Z has watched Millennials struggle to find jobs, achieve financial independence, and live outside of their parents’ orbit. This instilled a strong desire to avoid the same fate.
This new group is stocked with overachievers and Type A personalities. They maintain a strong independent streak. This group plays hard, but works hard too. They expect that same drive and dedication from their coworkers and leaders.
Despite their drive to achieve, this group’s self worth is heavily affected by social media. A study found that 42 percent say social media has a direct impact on how they feel about themselves. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising. At this age, most people want to know what others think of them and how they compare to their peers. Social media feeds that need with easy and immediate answers. As an employer, understand that this mindset fuels their need for frequent feedback.
What Gen Z wants in their workplace
This overachieving bunch love to learn. However, they prefer to learn from their peers. They demand collaboration in their work environment.
They want their employers to embrace social media, yet they prefer in-person communication. Because they like face-to-face interaction, they don’t mind working in offices. However, they still want telecommuting options. This group is all about flexibility.
The one-size-fits-all approach won’t work with this group. They are used to customized everything, from their music playlists to their Starbucks lattes to their newsfeeds. In the same way, they want customized career paths. They prefer workplaces that embrace their strengths and help them carve out a career that focuses on their specific interests.
Gen Z embraces their entrepreneurial side. A recent study found that 55% hope to open their own business and employ others someday. Within your business, encourage this pioneering spirit. Provide outlets for their creativity and let them practice leadership skills.
What your business needs to do to retain these employees
- Embrace technology. Even more than Millennials, this generation has never lived without technology. It’s part of their personal lives and they expect the same in their work lives.
- Offer flexibility. For now, this generation likes the interpersonal nature of office work. However, like the generations before them, they also crave flexibility. They want the option to work from anywhere, so they can take care of personal and family needs when necessary.
- Provide real-time feedback—and do it frequently. In their tween and teen years, this group became used to the immediate feedback made possible by social media. The once-a-year performance review is seen as a throwback to another era. Managers of this group need to touch base often and provide consistent and frequent feedback on performance and skills.
- Stay tuned. This generation is just now hitting the workforce. Most of these basic traits will stay the same, but watch for more pronounced changes as this generation weaves its way into the workforce.
What about you? Are you working with or hiring Gen Z employees at your small business? What traits or trends have you noticed?