Every generation brings something new to the workplace, and Generation Z will be no different. In fact, the life experiences, skills, and passions that define this group promise to completely transform job design, and many employment experts expect dramatic changes in the world of work once all 61 million US Gen Z-ers are employed.
Generation Z: An Overview
As a general rule, Gen Z includes people born between 1996 and 2010. They are typically the children of Millennials - the first generation to grow up with the world wide web. Gen Z kids never lived an internet-free lifestyle, and as digital natives, they are deeply comfortable with managing relationships, communication, and the basic tasks of living through mobile devices. In this way, they resemble Millennials. However, technology aside, all indications are that Gen Z employees bring a different list of priorities to the workplace.
Researchers have observed that Millennials are job hoppers, and one of the biggest challenges with this generation is attracting and retaining highly-skilled talent. Millennials pursue their personal passions, and few are willing to stick with a company for security and career advancement if their need for personal development goes unmet.
Generation Z, on the other hand, was shaped by a serious recession, and as a group, more appear to be concerned with securing a steady paycheck. They are more interested in staying with the right employer long-term, and they are expressing greater interest in climbing the career ladder.
From a team perspective, Gen Z presents an interesting paradox. As a group, researchers have noted that they are lonelier and more anxious than previous generations. They are accustomed to being on their own and self-sufficient, and they welcome healthy competition - but they also want the team-based collaboration that defined Millennials.
Fortunately, it is possible to accommodate these traits and characteristics simultaneously.
Three Tips for Integrating Generation Z
By 2021, Generation Z will make up approximately 20 percent of the workforce, so now is the time to prepare. There are three critical steps you can take to be sure you are ready to welcome the next generation of workers.
1. Invest in Technology
Millennials have high expectations for technology, and many organizations are still scrambling to catch up. Believe it or not, Gen Z's expectations are even higher. There will be little or no tolerance for outdated platforms with so many advanced options available. Attracting and retaining Gen Z requires a commitment to cutting-edge technology solutions.
2. Add Some Friendly Competition
Millennials have never been fans of cutthroat competition, and most organizations removed high-pressure contests from their motivational repertoire. However, Gen Z-ers have a somewhat higher tolerance for showing off their individual skills. Finding a balance that works for both is tricky, but many companies are having success with gamification of goals that includes features like leaderboards, contests, and accrual of points.
3. Welcome Individual and Collective Contributions
Today's managers are highly-focused on creating a culture of collaboration, based on feedback from Millennials. As more Gen Z workers arrive, this structure may need some tweaking. Gen Z-ers often need some time to themselves, and they struggle with too many team-based responsibilities. Create a flexible work environment where collaboration is available and encouraged but allow space for those who prefer to work alone. The most important thing is to ensure that both personality types are recognized for their contributions, rather than celebrating one style over the other.
Meeting the needs of a multi-generational workplace has always been a challenge and bringing Generation Z on-board will present new difficulties for managers. However, this group has a lot to offer in terms of skills, efficiency, and loyalty, so integration is well worth the effort.
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