How Generation Z are shaping the workplace

Generation Z, born in or after 1995, entered the world of work

The summer of 2017 became the first time that the new generation of workers; Generation Z, born in or after 1995, entered the world of work. Over the next few years, this new generation will start to re-shape the workplace.

If the start of the new year means a time for change, companies should prepare to embrace it, welcoming in this new generation – the newest and largest generation now entering the workplace. Gen Z have begun to disturb workplace norms, and as such, HR departments and organisations as a whole, must understand the characteristics of these new and future employees. Making the most of their skills and expertise to help grow their businesses.

With the second graduating class of Generation Z now in the workforce, they are starting to become the dominant newcomers, overshadowing their elder millennial colleagues. Their employers are now starting to become aware of what matters most to them. Higher workplace equality, strong career growth potential and meaningful connections are all aspects that they hold in high regard, even more so than their millennial predecessors.

To understand how organisations should be harnessing the Gen Z workforce’s potential, recently polled 5’000 Gen Z’ers, asking about their priorities and expectations in the workplace. Here’s a run-down of their key attributes and the changes they may affect.

Mentorship programs

Like the millennials before them, but now more than ever, Gen Z want face-to-face time. Having regular one-to-ones with their leaders is important to them. This was only just second place to health care on their list of priorities. As such, management need to be prepared to get directly involved with their workers’ development.

A solid mentorship program with the goal of growing a successful workforce will help integrate these new employees, and more over will allow meaningful relationships among co-workers to prosper.

Focusing efforts on this area in particular will likely increase employee retention and avoid hiring shortages in the long run. As more Gen Z’ers enter the workforce a shift in work related benefits is also likely. With a desire for emphasis on meaningful connections as well as constant feedback, incentives such as ‘working from home’ and ‘unlimited holidays’ will likely become less important to Gen Z. Perks like ‘Friday drinks’ and ‘free healthy snacks’ will also be less in favour compared to more career focused benefits.

Career growth opportunities at the forefront

Due to Generation Z having grown up during the 2008 economic crisis many of them are more interested in job security than their millennial peers – who have gained a reputation for often switching jobs.

Generation X parents brought up this new generation through the Great Recession, highlighting the need for financial and social responsibility. As such, Gen Z are a generation grounded in practicality. Generation Z’s savings accounts illustrate this. Almost 2/3 of them have their own savings account, as opposed just 1/2 of the generation above them. As a result, this underlined pragmatism is reflected in their workplace expectations.

Organisations with a clear mission and sense of purpose will fair the best in hiring and motivating this new practical generation. Paying the bills with a good wage is not their only concern, with the feeling of being a key part of building something meaningful being held in higher esteem. When surveyed about what would keep them in a job for more than 3 years, the latter point was twice as important (the top response of 29%) as receiving a high salary (15%’s top response). A stark contrast with millennials, who often promoted higher salaries as their driving force.

Support for causes outside the workplace

Taking a leaf out of the millennials’ book and placing it in even higher regard, Generation Z is at the forefront of social consciousness. Workers from the new generation are looking for an employer that stresses the importance of social responsibility, and half-hearted attempts at it won’t pass muster. They want a workplace that holds similar values, prioritising diversity just as much as they do, with equality being the number one cause they want to see employers supporting.  Simply including an ‘equality & diversity’ section in the employee handbook won’t do. Gen Z’ers want to see organisations advocate equality outside the workplace as well.

With Generation Z now in its second year in the workforce, employers should strive to stay a step ahead of the changes they’ll bring. Preparing the workplace for this new generation’s priorities and key drives will enable companies to attract the new skills and perspectives of this rising workforce.

Míša Benešovská

I’m a freelance journalist and copywriter, mainly covering IT industry. I’ve been fascinated by it for nearly a quarter of a century (or since I dismantled my first computer). I worked for, Unicorn Systems or Mafra publisher. In my spare time, I love game consoles and keep perfecting a recipe for the best pumpkin risotto in the world.

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