Business owners and managers are probably starting to sweat after reading the title of this alone. A new generation of workers? Already? What happened to the Millennials?
While Millennials are still a very important part of the workforce today, it’s never too early to look ahead to the future. In no time at all, the ever-ambitious Millennials will be heading up businesses and taking on managerial and executive roles in companies, leaving room to welcome in a new fleet of workers – the Generation Zers.
Every new generation of workers is different. They all have their own complexities, goals, skills and needs. And if you plan on being a successful business owner for a longer period of time, being able to recognize these nuances and manage a cross-generation staff is going to be essential to your success.
The good news is that the Generation Z workforce is very similar to the Millennials that have come before them. So being able to successfully manage them and retain them shouldn’t be that difficult if you’ve already gotten the hang of working with Millennials.
Let’s take a closer look at who Generation Z are and what they are going to be bringing to the table as employees in the years to come.
Who Are They?
Generation Z workers that are joining the workforce right now are fresh out of college. Right now, they make up slightly less than ten percent of the workforce, but that’s going to change quickly. It is estimated that there will be more than 30 million employed Generation Zers by 2019.
One interesting aspect of Generation Z is that trends show that this generation wants to get to work right away, many even forgoing college or trying to balance a serious career with going to school.
They also show a tendency to be more entrepreneurial, so don’t be surprised if you start having to work with Generation Zers not just as their employer, but as a partner.
Technology is Second Nature to Them
Not only does this generation not know anything about living in a world without the Internet, there’s a good chance that they haven’t even used a dial-up connection in their lives. They’ve probably only seen people use payphones in movies.
They have had smartphones and social media accounts practically since middle school. Simply put, Generation Z will be the most technology proficient generation yet. They are very much in tune with all of the latest trends and the general evolution of technology, which means that you are going to have to show a similar interest in these areas if you want to keep up with them.
This might sound like a burden to some business owners, but it’s also a blessing. The best thing about having workers who are hyper-literate when it comes to technology is that they can easily adapt to any new gadgets or processes you might throw at them in the workplace.
So if you are making technological changes within your business, not only will your Generation Z workers be able to adapt to them easily, they will also be able to help you test the effectiveness of these changes and even offer up better solutions and plans for further developing your business on this end.
Generation Z is going to bring innovation and development to the workplace, whether you like it or not.
What Makes Them Tick?
We’ve hopefully already established that Generation Z shows signs of being a great workforce – ready to be challenged, excited about working on complex projects, interested in leading.
As a business owner, it should be in your best interest to understand them further in order to both attract them to your business and retain them.
They Desire Strong Leadership
Some might wrongly assume that the fact that Generation Z tends to have an entrepreneurial spirit automatically means that they can’t be managed. Generation Zers will follow if they have a strong leader.
As an employer, you need to show this generation of workers that you take them seriously and that you don’t look down on them because of their age or lack of work experience. They want to be judged by their work, not by their year of birth.
They respect employers who have strong opinions, have proven to be successful and are willing to help pave the way to mutual success and growth. In comparison to Millennials, it appears that Generation Z craves more structure and guidance. But that doesn’t come from a fear of making mistakes, rather from an appreciation for form and direction.
They Respond to Rewards
You know when you see an angry middle-aged man ranting on Facebook about how kids these days receive participation awards for being on a losing recreational sports team? That guy is complaining about Generation Z.
This generation has grown up in a society that has praised and rewarded them for every little thing they’ve done throughout life. They respond well to frequent praise and rewards because of this. Generation Z doesn’t want to be left wondering whether or not they have done a good job. They expect their managers and bosses to tell them directly.
The same goes with criticism. Generation Z thrives off feedback, good or bad, and being in the loop with bosses at all times motivates and inspires them to work harder. They want attention and want to know that their contributions are not going unnoticed.
What Do They Want?
Now that you have an idea of where Generation Z is coming from, the next step is to understand where they want to go. What do they want out of their careers?
It’s interesting to note that Generation Zers are a lot more interested in achieving financial stability than Millennials. While they are just as interested as Millennials in doing work that fulfills them and participating in something that’s going to change the world for the better, they are less willing to sacrifice financial stability to achieve these goals.
Career Development Opportunities
One of the main differences between Millennials and Generation Z is that the latter are much more realistic and don’t operate with such an optimistic, Utopian mindset. Both generations are very ambitious and want to move up in the world quickly, but early indicators show that Generation Z is significantly less entitled.
They want to succeed, but they are willing to work harder towards that goal – they don’t feel that they deserve success, they want to earn it.
Generation Z doesn’t just want to advance, they want to learn and better themselves every step of the way. They respond well to training, mentorship, guidance and getting the opportunity to continue learning new things and expanding on skills that they already possess.
If you want to retain a Generation Z worker, you shouldn’t be offering them raises or promotions out of courtesy – they want to earn everything through their ability to make valuable contributions and grow as professionals.
As mentioned earlier, Generation Z has practically grown up on the Internet. You can’t expect them to work in cubicles – you need to set them free. This new generation of young workers knows how to manage life on the go. They quickly respond to emails from the bar on their phones. They take their laptops with them for the weekend when they visit their parents. They have no problem with being able to focus and get work done from anywhere they need to.
This flexibility extends further than to just where they can and can’t get work done from. It extends into a blurring of the lines between personal and work time, which Generation Z workers are able to achieve and manage quite seamlessly.
Most importantly, business owners should know that Generation Z doesn’t simply prefer to have flexibility and autonomy in the way they work – they demand it. So if you want to attract and retain the best workers of this generation, you are going to have to learn to adapt and strike a balance between your work structure expectations and theirs.