As a Gen Xer, I've spent much of my life either acclimating to the business world created by the Baby Boomers and their parents, or adjusting to the arrival of Generation Y, who were born in the 1980s.
Now it's time to prepare for a new generation. I'm talking about Generation Z -- the segment of the population born after the millennials, in the mid to late-90s through the 2010s.
In five years, Generation Z will constitute a fifth of the work force. This is a group of people that grew up with wireless technology, people who do not remember the VHS, or a world without Internet or wireless technology. As a whole, they have much to bring to the workforce and expect much back.
What Generation Z Brings
Workers from this segment of young adults tend to be innovative and creative, wanting to make an impact on society. Partly because of this, you may find they're a little more loyal than most millennials. They want to advance and grow professionally, and are willing to use internships and learning experiences to do this. They may see professional development from a more long-term standpoint. Lengthy work engagements are considered stepping-stones towards success, even if they don't pay out right away.
Gen Z is also most interested in working for a cause or company that they are passionate about, and may be willing to be paid less to do so. If they are genuinely interested in promoting what your company has to offer, you can bet that they will be hardworking, loyal, and a good investment.
Gen Z-ers are also somewhat different from their predecessors in that they may be even more tech-intuitive. They came of age in the era of iPods/iPads, Facebook and other social media, and wireless internet. While Generation Y also grew up in the world of cellular phones, the majority of Generation Z has always had a computer in their pocket; their phones have almost always been smart.
I've written about how millennials and other young adults can easily identify when something isn't authentic when it comes to content. They have this level of expertise because they've constantly had their hands on the latest content for years. If they do not know something, they instinctively know exactly how to find this information online. They are already naturally social and can use these platforms with ease, rarely needing to be taught how to effectively use the internet and its resources in the workplace.
What They Expect
This generation grew up in the middle of the Great Recession (yes that's right - you're old). They have seen their parents and others around them struggle with finances that were seemingly secure just months before. This means they are ready to work for their living - and they recognize that social security may not be around to provide financial stability later in life.
Many gen Z-ers expect to make more right out of college- but are also willing to work harder for their paycheck. When it comes down to it, the salary a company offers can make or break their decision to work for them. If your company has any intention of luring in a young, talented workforce, you must have competitive salary and benefit offers. Otherwise, they will find someone who does meet their wanted pay bracket.
They also have a higher expectation of relationship with their bosses. Even though they are fluent in a world of social media, text messages and email, they would much rather have genuine conversations and connections with higher-ups. Additionally, this generation is very project-oriented, ready to run with whatever is given to them. However, they prefer extensive feedback and input from those higher than them. Both of these mean that your company's managers should be making every effort to connect with your gen Z employees and supporting them in whatever endeavors they are pursuing for the company.
What Does This Mean?
Generation Z has a great amount of drive, talent, and ambition to bring to the table. They are not above working hard for their paycheck, they are loyal, and are able to innovate your company to match the changing times. They are willing to grow and progress quickly and intend on making an impact on the company they work for from the beginning. This means these companies must be willing to work hard for their attentions, offering adequate salaries and benefits, in order to attract talented young adults to their doorstep.