6 Ways Gen Z’s Differ From Millennials in The Workplace
The workplace is filled with stories. We trade experiences, which become lessons for both ourselves and others. But what happens when the demographics of the workforce change? Will your company’s culture adapt to meet these new challenges?
This is one question that executives ask themselves as they look ahead at the next generation entering the workplace today: Generation Z (born mid-90s to mid-00s). While Millennials—Generation Y—are often considered entitled job-hoppers or ‘slackers,’ Gen Z kids are constructed as serious, hardworking little professionals who know precisely what their futures entail. From where you stand, do these perceptions hold weight? It might be too soon to tell if this is true, but it certainly makes sense on some level.
Regardless of how all this shakes out, there’s no denying that Generation Z will bring a new wave of challenges and opportunities to the workplace. The following are five things that you should know about Gen Z:
- Gen Z is More Tech Savvy
Gen Z is the first generation to grow up in a world saturated with technology—from computers to smartphones to apps galore. As a result, their digital childhoods have given them a leg up over even their Millennial counterparts when it comes to navigating through today’s landscape. According to a recent study by global consulting firm Accenture, members of Gen Z were more familiar at a younger age, naming iPhone, Android, Facebook, and Xbox as standard technology tools than their Millennial counterparts.
“The emergence of Gen Z as a distinct consumer group and workforce cohort may be on the horizon, but their unique consumption and media habits are already influencing companies and brands,” said Seth Geiser, managing director for Accenture’s Customer & Marketing Insights practice. “In order to connect with this audience, companies will need to adapt. Everyone from marketers to business leaders must understand the true nature of this generation.”
- Gen Z is Growing Up In The Age Of Social Networking
While members of Generation X were connecting through corporate-sponsored cliques like AOL Instant Messenger, Gen Z was making friends –and enemies– online. This has led many to wonder how they will behave in the workplace.
“Their’Net generation parents have brought them up, and they’re just always online,” said Robert Hatta, author of The Facebook Guide for People Over 50. “They’ll go into work and expect to be connected 24/7.”
And this is not entirely unrealistic. According to a recent study by Intel, Generation Z spends about 18 hours plugged in per week —that’s roughly 3.5 hours more than Millennials do each week.
- Gen Z Sees Themselves As Entrepreneurs
A recent study by Gallup suggests that young people see entrepreneurship as an appealing career choice: 76% believe that one can start her own business and still make a lot of money; 82% want to run their own companies in the future.
“They are in many respects the anti-generation X,” says John Zogby, president of JZ Analytics, a New Jersey research firm. “Their numbers are much larger than generation X, so they have got to do something different when it comes to jobs.”
- Gen Z is Discerning About Their Careers
Unlike members of Gen Z, Millennials were not defined as being especially career-driven. This may be why some Gen Z’ers are taking their time to think about what they want out of their careers. According to a recent study by Ernst & Young, 34% of Gen Z’ers said they were unsure whether they would stay at their first job for longer than two years, many even likely to undertake lesser know roles like sugar baby jobs.
“Gen Z displays a strong aversion to pigeonholing themselves so young in their careers,” says Jim Link, managing partner of Ernst & Young’s talent practice. “They will likely need guidance and coaching, along the way, to help them understand how their current early-career trends can help or hinder them.”
- Gen Z Looks For Stability In A Job
As part of this, members of Gen Z are looking for jobs that offer more stability than Millennials did. According to Vault’s 2015 Intern Survey, only 7% found entry-level positions appealing because they offered little opportunity for growth. The trends suggest that both employers and employees should emphasize professional development when coming up with compensation packages.
“After watching older generations struggle through years of layoffs and downsizing, we’re not as likely to jump at the first opportunity – even if it’s a high paying one – because we realize there are other things that also bring happiness and success,” wrote Kate O’Sullivan, forum member and founder of GenZGuru.com.
“As Gen Z starts entering the labor force, they will look to join companies with strong reputations for providing opportunities for upward mobility and training, compared to previous generations who would tend to look more toward salary levels when assessing job offers.”
- Gen Z Employees Will Seek Mentorship Opportunities
According to a recent study by Ernst & Young, only 40% of Gen Z’ers reported being “fully prepared” for their careers upon graduating college. The same study also found that mentors played a crucial role in guiding and supporting young workers, with 66% of those surveyed saying they sometimes or often felt more comfortable discussing their career challenges with an older mentor than even with their parents.
“The ‘mentor’ can be anyone: a peer within the company, someone respected outside the workplace (such as parents) and even social media influencers,” wrote O’Sullivan.
“They offer career advice not out of altruism but because they want to help – perhaps for no other reason than because we like them.”
The Bottom Line
As Generation Z enters the workforce, they will bring a different set of values than those seen in previous generations. For example, they are more likely to seek stability and mentorship opportunities instead of high pay or positions that offer little opportunity for growth. As a result, employers should be more inclined to emphasize professional development when attracting top talent.
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