The internet has been obsessed with Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) forever – or at least it seems that way. But really, if you look at Google trends, the internet didn’t start talking about Millennials until late 2014, when the oldest of the generation were already 34 years old! Here we are, with almost every Millennial in the workforce and we still don’t know the best ways to manage them. At this point, adjusting your workplace strategy for them is essentially just playing a game of catch up. The next logical thing to do? Get a jump start on Generation Z.
Generation Z (aka Gen Z or iGen) were born after 2000 and are part of the ‘Digital Natives’ cohort, which includes younger Millennials as well. The oldest Gen Z’s are graduating high school next year and many of them will be getting part-time jobs in retail and foodservice. Gen Z is already entering the workforce, so let’s make sure we don’t fall behind like we did with Millennials, and let’s adopt workplace practices that will accommodate them sooner rather than later.
As the next generation enters the workforce, they bring new expectations and values. The best way to engage Gen Z is to make sure we meet these expectations. Here are the 4 things Gen Z values most, and tips for managers to incorporate them into the workplace:
Value 1: Technology
Digital Natives don’t remember dial-up internet - some don’t even know it ever existed. They live in world where Wi-Fi is everywhere, wearables are nothing new, and social media is a given. Younger generations don’t want work places that have technology, they actually expect it. In fact, 42% of Millennials would leave a company that had "substandard technology”, and that number will only increase with GenZ. So what tech is necessary to support the next generation?
Our Tip: Implement a BYOD Policy
While you may not need all the bells and whistles of robots or AI, a bare minimum tech requirement is a good BYOD policy and an updated internal communications software. Having a BYOD policy in place allows employees to use the technology that they feel best suits their job and lets them stay connected. Add an internal communications app into the mix, and you'll be giving Gen Z workers the opportunity to use a social platform on the job, which helps with the fact that 41% of Digital Natives want their employers to incorporate more social media at work.
Value 2: Real Perks
While fun new perks like ping pong tables, in-house chefs, free food, and more worked well for Millennials who were chasing their “dream jobs”, Gen Z is a lot more practical. 79% of current University students are more concerned with getting a job over following their passion. The perks they’re looking for involve financial rewards and career advancement. As their student debt piles up, they want to be able to be financially secure.
Our Tip: Provide Real Rewards
When it comes to how Gen Z wants to be rewarded, 38% want cash rewards or bonuses and 30% are interested in promotions. 58% are either somewhat, or very worried, about their financial futures, so make sure your rewards are easing those fears. Implement a bonus system or regular conversations with your employees about their path to advancement within your organization.
Value 3: Open Communication
In the digital age, how do you communicate with a generation that's never lived without unlimited texting? Well, 53% of Gen Z actually prefer face-to-face communication over instant messaging, and 39% of Digital Natives actually prefer it over any other method. Additionally, a willingness to communicate is the number one trait Gen Z are looking for in their managers and leadership. They desire an open, two-way relationship with their managers, where their ideas are heard, and feedback is constant and honest.
Our Tip: Provide a Channel for Two-Way Communication
46% of digital natives want their managers to interact with them through some sort of mentorship program where they receive regular feedback. They also want their ideas to be heard and have an impact on the organization (much like Millennials), so try to develop close, trusting relationships with all your Gen Z employees.
Value 4: Flexibility
Workplace flexibility is the number one benefit that Generation Z are looking for, but only 34% of organizations currently offer it. Gen Z is willing to put in long hours, but not necessarily in the typical 9-5 timeframe. They also highly value their work/life balance and want to be able to work when they want, where they want.
Our Tip: Create Flexible Work Hours and Locations
In the UK, 67% of business believe that flexible work hours achieve a good work/life balance for their employees. Offering flexible hours might seem impossible in retail and foodservice, but there are ways to make it work. Using a mobile communication platform with peer-to-peer capabilities, it becomes easy for employees to swap shifts with each other, or to work at multiple locations and still have access to all the necessary information.
At the end of the day, Gen Z's are different from Millennials. As they enter the workforce in the coming years, starting out in stores and restaurants, it's important to adjust to meet their expectations. While they might not be working yet, making the necessary changes for Gen Z now will prevent you from scrambling to make it work like so many people did (and still are) with Millennials.