Move Over, Millennials; Generation Z Is Here

Gen Z is the generation that comes after the
Millennial generation. They were born between the mid-1990s to the early
2000s, so roughly 1995 to 2010. Many are surprised to hear that the
leading edge of the cohort is already graduating college this spring and
heading to work. They are 72.8 million strong. Like all generations, Gen Z has
its own unique events and conditions that have shaped them, resulting in a
different outlook.

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We have our own conditions that have shaped
us, plus our parents. Where Millennials were raised by self-esteem-building,
optimistic Boomers, we were raised by tough-love, skeptical Gen Xers. At a
young age, we were told by our Xer parents that there are winners and
losers, and that more often than not, you lose. In addition, we grew up during
the Great Recession, so we’re pragmatic, independent and in survival mode when
it comes to looking at our future careers. We’re also the first true digital
natives. We have only known phones that are smart and have been able to get our
hands on any bit of information 24/7. While this makes us very resourceful, it
also creates challenges in that we suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out)—big
time. Gen Z is always worried whether we are moving ahead fast enough in
comparison to everyone else, definitely not the most patient generation.

We have a golden opportunity to be proactive
rather than reactive. The leading edge is just starting to enter the workplace.
If leaders get to know what makes Gen Z tick today, then they can
better prepare to recruit and retain them. It’s not about “out with
the old and in with the new;” it’s about anticipating where the conflicts
might be and how best to prepare.

We see a lot of leaders look at someone young
and assume we are all the same. Even more so, it is natural to look at
someone from my generation and assume we are Millennials. The mistake is to
then treat us like Millennials. If leaders do that, it will backfire again, as our
national studies have proven we are drastically different from the Millennials.

One thing is for sure, they will not be
looking for the same things we saw Millennials look for when they started out.
Millennials were all about finding meaning in their jobs and how best to make
the world a better place. With Gen Z coming of age during the recession, they
are putting money and job security at the top of the list. Sure, they want to
make a difference, but surviving and thriving are more important. The cultures
that can foster that are the ones that will win the war for talent with Gen Z.

Gen Zers are true digital natives. Ninety-one
percent of Gen Z said technological sophistication would impact their
interest in working at a company. As the workplace continues to figure out how
best to incorporate technology, this generation will lead the way. This will
not feel natural, as usually it is the older generations to lead the way.
However, this is the first time we have the youngest generation as an authority
figure on something really important. This will change the typical corporate

With Gen Z being the true digital natives, we
had assumed their preferred mode of communication was texting or via one of
their social media platforms. However, in our national study, 84
percent of Gen Z said face to face is their preferred mode of
communication. Having seen so many organizations and leaders called into
question as well as struggle in the recent recession, Gen Z is looking for
honesty above all. Only 5 percent of Gen Z said they were motivated by a
company’s reputation. In order to find that honest and transparent workplace,
they want to be able to look their leaders in the eye.

Our biggest difference will be our independent
and competitive nature. Workplaces have become so used to Millennials’
collaborative style that this will throw them off—or even worse, have them
accusing us of not being team players. Take something as simple as office
space. Collaborative Millennials have pushed for the open office concept where
they can all work together. Gen Z’s independent nature doesn’t work in an open
office. Thirty-five percent would rather share socks than an office space.

A big conflict will be talking to Gen Z about
career paths. Millennials paved the way for pushing career paths to advance at
a much faster pace. Gen Z will continue to push for fast advancement; however,
it will go way beyond just pace. As mentioned, Gen Z suffers from FOMO. Because
they can see on their social media feeds what everyone else is doing at all
times, they will want to pursue multiple paths at the same time. In
fact, 75 percent of Gen Z would be interested in a situation where
they could have multiple roles within one place of employment. It will make
complete sense to them to work in marketing two days a week and product
development the other three. Ideally, managers can figure out a way to offer
multiple career paths, but if they can’t, creating environments where Gen Z can
be exposed to as many roles as possible will be critical. Initiatives like
rotation programs will hit a home run with Gen Z because they’ll get to feel as
though they are working in many areas and therefore not fear they are missing
out on anything.

The first step will be recruiting them. Smart
companies are figuring out what value propositions they need to put forth for
recruiting Gen Z. For Millennials, it was all about how they could make a
difference in the world, even more than a paycheck. For Gen Z, it will be about
salary and benefits first and how they will be able to advance. That’s a huge
shift. It will be important that each Gen Z recruit feel that the job being
offered to them is unique. Our national studies show how Gen Z is looking for
customization: 56 percent of Gen Z would rather write their own job
description than be given a generic one, and 62 percent of Gen Z would
rather customize their own career plan than have the organization lay one out
for them.

Companies on the leading edge are getting on
our radar as early as possible. Because we are in survival mode, we are focused
on creating security at a younger age. Fifty-five percent of Gen Z
feels pressure to gain professional experience in high school. Traditional
industries are struggling with Gen Z because they are not on our radar. We are
daydreaming out the window [about working] at companies like Netflix or Google.
We aren’t likely thinking about agriculture or manufacturing. Usually companies
think about reaching out to college students or they offer internships. But
innovative companies are looking for ways to partner with high schools to get
on the radar even sooner. 

One word to describe Generation Z: Realistic.

This new generation means employers must adapt
new practices when it comes to recruiting- especially if they want to attract
and maintain top talent. Understanding how they work, what they want and how
they think is the first step. Recruitment is one of the many services Converge
HR Solutions offers to their partners. With a group of skilled experts on your
side, your business will be fully prepared to handle Gen Z along with all the
generations before. Make sure you are ready for the workplace changes that are
coming your way. To browse our services, visit Contact us directly at or 610-296-8550.

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