Are You Ready for “Gen Z”?

Generation Z, or “Gen Z,” is the generation of workers following Millennials. The most senior members of Gen Z are now beginning to enter the workforce. In order to remain competitive, organizations must be aware of the traits and characteristics attributed by workforce experts to this generation in order to better manage them as employees. Sources vary on the exact years of birth that encapsulate the generation and in general, Gen Z birth years begin between 1995 and 2001 and end between 2010 and today. Regardless of the exact birth years for the generation, researchers generally agree on the preferences and tendencies of Gen Z that will ultimately impact what they will desire and need at work in order to be successful.

Shaped by the Great Recession and the War on Terror, Gen Z is thought to be pragmatic and frugal. Gen Z appears to be more motivated by money and job security than its predecessors, Millennials, who tend to be more purpose-driven. In order to avoid years of paying off burgeoning debts, many members of the generation are choosing to forgo formal higher education altogether or replace formal higher education with online learning, which means they may enter the workforce earlier than former generations. When recruiting members of Gen Z, it may be worth noting that while their traditional educational backgrounds may not be as formally “robust” as other generations, Gen Z may have found other less expensive and more creative ways to attain necessary competencies and qualifications.

Perhaps the most discussed characteristic of this generation is their relationship with technology. Gen Z was born into a world of mobile phones and social media. They are the first generation to come of age in a world with smartphones. They are able to obtain information rapidly and relatively speaking, effortlessly. As such, nonverbal communication with Gen Z should include images and few words. Also, along these same lines, Gen Z is known for their ability to effortlessly shift between work and personal life via multi-tasking with smartphones and other technology. This blurs the line between work and personal time and could have implications for how and when work is accomplished.

Surprisingly though, 53 percent of Gen Z indicate that they prefer in-person discussion over technological tools, according to MillennialBranding.com. With this in mind, Gen Z employees will likely continue to appreciate face-to-face conversations about performance and development.

Research indicates that individuals within Gen Z tend to prefer independence over collaboration. They generally prefer to work alone, have their own office space, and manage their own projects. In addition, Gen Z tends to be highly entrepreneurial. According to Forbes.com, 72 percent of Gen Z high school students say that they want to start a business. As employees, these highly-motivated and entrepreneurial individuals will likely be eager to learn and work hard in order to ultimately fulfill their own business objectives.

Research shows that Gen Z also have a strong expectation of diversity. Growing-up with rapidly increasing gender and racial diversity, this generation embraces individualism and celebrates self-expression. Nurturing diversity and the ability for individuals to express themselves will help to engage Gen Z employees in the workforce.

As this new generation begins to find its way into the workforce, it is imperative that employers become aware of new attitudes, tendencies, and preferences, so that organizational culture facilitates Gen Z workers easily acclimating to the organization thus that their contributions can be fully realized.