Randstad Corporation, in conjunction with Millennial Branding, released a new study today on the differences between Generation Y (ages 21 to 32) and Generation Z (ages 16 to 20). While their responses are interesting, take them with a grain of salt. Gen Z respondents can only guess at their true preferences, as they haven't been tested in the real workplace. (Outside of the occasional summer job, and the odd genius who has founded her own startup, Gen Z doesn't have real-life experience.)
Here's what Randstad says you can look forward to:
Honesty is the way to go. 52 percent of Gen Z says that honesty is the most important quality for a good leader.
Why this should worry you. In 2013, 42 percent of Harvard's freshman class admitted to cheating on homework in high school. It is highly unlikely that there is no cross-over between the 52 percent of Gen Z people who think honesty is important and those who cheat themselves. Which means they'll hold you to one standard while holding themselves to another.
Face-to-face communication. 51 percent of Gen Z respondents say they prefer in-person communication with managers, 16 percent prefer emailing, and 11 percent prefer instant messaging.
Why this should worry you. One in three teens sends more than 3000 text messages a month, 84 percent sleep with their phones, and 54 percent use text messaging to communicate with their friends, compared to 33 percent who speak face to face. In other words, Gen Z members use text messaging as a primary method of communicating, but say they prefer face-to-face communication with their bosses. This may be because the only bosses they have had are in retail or fast food settings where you're in close quarters with the boss and it makes most sense to say directly, "Can you get that next customer?" But it may be because they aren't planning to build relationships at the office.
While keeping work and home life separate are laudable goals, you also need to develop proper relationships with co-workers and bosses. If your primary method of communicating with friends is through texting, yet you only wish to communicate with bosses face to face, there may be some disconnect on relationships. On a positive side, though, no texting at work means none of the dreaded text speak.
Bosses of Gen Z will have to discuss proper business communication on all levels--email, IM, texting, and face to face.
Planning to switch companies often. Gen Z plans to switch companies 4 times in their lives, which is less than the 5 that Gen Y plans to do.
Why this should worry you. This one shouldn't worry you, but it should make you chuckle. The average employee spends 4.4 years in a job. If you consider working from 20 until 60, we're talking a bit more than 4 jobs over a life time. Either the Gen Z (and Gen Y) groups have desires to return to the days of getting a gold watch after 25 years at the same company, or they have unrealistic expectations around how long they'll be working or what it means to stick with something. Chances are, they'll have 4 jobs by the time they are 30.
Motivated by more than money. 34 percent say they are motivated by advancement, compared to 27 percent for money, and 23 percent for meaningful work.
Why this should worry you. If 16-year-olds say they are motivated by advancement, they are going to find it a great shock when they aren't made managers within their first year after college. In fact, 61 percent say they strongly desire their managers to take their ideas seriously. Managers absolutely should take their employees' ideas seriously, but it's going to be a steep and traumatic learning curve if people expect to enter the workforce on Tuesday and be seen as an innovator and idea person by Wednesday.
Dealing with unrealistic expectations is always difficult for management. When the idea of what the workplace should be like doesn't reflect reality, keeping employee morale up is difficult.
Additionally, teens who say they aren't motivated by money are likely still supported by parents. One day, Mom and Dad will be tired of supporting their not-so-little darlings and then motivation via money may change.
Why you shouldn't be worried over all. You were young once. You thought you knew what you were getting into when you entered the work force. Gen Z folks think they know what they are getting into as well. Chances are, they don't any better than you did. And you? You turned out all right. They will, too.