Millennials are getting old. The most senior of them are already pushing 40 years of age. This means that Generation Z are coming into the workplace–is your company ready for the changes this brings?
By 2020, Generation Z employees are expected to comprise nearly 40 percent of the workforce. This means that employers and managers would have to design the workplace environment to make it more suitable to hiring and keeping Z Generation workers.
However, before such changes in the workplace can be done, it’s best to first try to understand what Gen Z employees expect from their workplace. When we say Gen Z, these are people who were born in 1996 and beyond, and would be reaching adulthood over the next 20 years after.
Here are some of the traits and qualities of Generation Z according to the experts:
They are always information-hungry. They grew up as natives in a world connected by internet and social media. This means they always prefer to have their gadgets handy and they function best when connected online, with easy access to information.
The upside to this is that they are always open to learning new things.
They are more visual — they would rather watch than read. Think Instagram and Snapchat. Their minds are better suited to consuming multimedia, and primarily visual, content on the internet.
Similar to Millennials, they prefer teamwork. Having grown up with their social network, Gen Zs perform best when they are working with others to accomplish a task.
They see supervisors and managers as mentors and colleagues. They don’t like to be bossed around but do appreciate being taught and trained.
So how do you create a workplace where Gen Z can thrive? Here’s what the research shows:
Give them internet access. They know the world first through the internet, being the first generation to grow up with it since childhood. The concept of a “pre-internet” world or society is simply alien to them. They’ll never understand what such a world was like.
Let them consume information, learn, and connect through multimedia. Gen Z experiences the world through posts, memes, videos, music — as filtered through the internet and social media.
They send messages and share photos and videos through mainly visual apps like Instagram stories and Snapchat, although they still use Facebook, too.
This has implications for training and communication that are targeted to Gen Z. For example, Gen Z might better respond to a training approach that includes bite-sized, “snackable media” content.
“Snackable media” would include infographics, short video clips, and other multimedia content that are one to three minutes long.
This would also apply to information that is being cascaded through the organization.
Let your Gen Z employees go mobile. They are simply lost without their gadgets and mobile phones. The social life, work life, their education are dependent on these mobile devices.
Needless to say, they would expect the workplace to have an internet connection and that they would be allowed to use social media within the premises.
Without these… good luck to hiring and retaining your Gen Z employees; they’ll simply work somewhere else if this setup is not present in your workplace.
They are also connected to their friends, family, and co-workers through social media. And many of them prefer to be connected to their bosses on social media, as well.
For them, workplace experience is just as important as money. Gen Zs value the day-to-day experience they have at work. They are willing to work hard and to excel — but they also expect a fun, stimulating, and flexible work environment.
Give them autonomy but encourage collaboration. Gen Zs work better as a team. They also expect to be allowed significant autonomy or independence in how they do their work.
Provide them with training and mentorship. They appreciate being taught on how to improve themselves, how to do their work better, and being able to learn new things.
Train them in “soft skills”. Gen Zs are weak when it comes to interpersonal skills and social skills that previous generations take for granted. Some experts suspect this is because they grew up interacting more often through devices and apps, instead of with real people in real life situations.
These soft skills include written and verbal communication, conflict resolution, empathy, social interaction (in real life, in physical terms), leadership, problem-solving, etc. The good news is, they are able to learn these things, given time and proper training.
As more and more Gen Zs enter the workplace, it’s absolutely crucial for companies and employers to adjust their environments and processes to this new reality.