If you're still not sure how Generation Z is impacting your business, and your success, it's time for you to find out. While Generation Y (people born in the '80s and '90s) is now firmly established in the workplace and a force to be reckoned with, the members of Generation Z (anyone born after 1993) are beginning to show up on the radar screens of businesses around the world. In fact, they are likely arriving in your workplace in increasing numbers right now.
What are the expectations of the members of Gen Z? What will attract them to your business--and repel them? Global law firm Nixon Peabody has taken a close look at these questions and more. Here's what they have found.
1. Gen Z wants professional development and promotional opportunities early
Statistics already show that "job hopping" is now commonplace, with people switching jobs an average of 10 times between the ages 18 and 34. However, recent studies reveal these numbers may trend upward even further, with Gen Zers likely to switch jobs at an even higher rate. Gen Z views their first job as a stepping stone to their "dream job," not necessarily the start of a 30-year tenure with the company. "Since high rates of turnover can be expensive, employers need to seek their new employees' buy-in at the outset," says Laura Bacon, labor and employment attorney at Nixon Peabody. "Gen Z wants to work for a company they "believe in" with a culture that fits their personality. Give them professional development and promotional opportunities right away--expecting new employees to sit in a cubicle for five years to pay their dues is a thing of the past."
2. Gen Z is entrepreneurial and want an outlet for their ideas to be heard
Having grown up in the age of startups and crowdsourcing, Gen Z is much more likely than previous generations to aspire to be entrepreneurs. One way employers can encourage this entrepreneurial spirit within the confines of a corporate structure is to give these employees the ability to have meaningful input about the business from the start. For example, companies can seek out its new Gen Z members for roles in committees or task forces, giving them a chance to help shape the direction of the company from the get go.
3. But not all the ideas Gen Z provides will be positive ones
Employers should keep in mind that if Gen Z is given an opportunity for their ideas to be heard, what they have to say may not all be positive. Employers should be aware of the potential for constructive criticism expressed both within the company and on public outlets such as social media. Stacie Collier, co-leader of Nixon Peabody's Labor and Employment practice advises a refresher on an employer's legal obligations to allow employees to speak freely on social media. "Employers should re-visit their company policies on social media and email use to ensure that these policies do not run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act, which applies to both union and non-union employees alike, and which often mandate that employees be given a long leash in what they can publicly say," says Collier.
4. Gen Z thrives on frequent communication and feedback
For their entire lives, all of the worldly information Gen Z desired was quite literally at their fingertips. Their social media and online collaboration-centric world has created a constant loop of feedback, both positive and negative. Entering a workplace where there is a lack of communication or information will feel completely foreign to Gen Z and outside of their comfort zone. Laura Bacon, labor and employment attorney at Nixon Peabody suggests that "employers consider providing a forum for employees to share feedback with one-another and encourage transparency in salary information and performance evaluation metrics." Along with this additional communication may come additional responsibility for the employer in the way of documentation. "Should an issue ever arise with the EEOC or state employment agency, documentation in personnel files is key," says Bacon.
5. Gen Z is diverse
Gen Z will be the most diverse generation to date. To attract and retain this next generation of employees, companies should embrace this diversity, but not in the way "diversity" has traditionally been recognized through affinity or special-interest groups. Gone are the days of a one-size fits all check-the-box type of diversity initiative. Members of Gen Z do not identify themselves in clearly defined categories, but rather a much more fluid sense of themselves: creating an environment of diversity in not just demographics/social background, but also of thought and mind, is a must. Consider mandatory unconscious bias or other sensitivity training for all employees in order to foster this diversity and ensure that all employees are provided an equal opportunity to grow and advance within the organization, as required by law. Equal Pay Act claims are on the rise and this generation will not tolerate the gender gap in pay. Ensuring consistently fair and lawful pay practices and transparency regarding these structures is critical.