6 Things HR Needs to Know About Generation Z

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It might be difficult to believe, but Millennials aren’t incoming freshmen anymore. Welcome, Generation Z. Born after 1995, they’re the youngest segment of the workforce and they’re not as similar to their predecessors as you might imagine. This is their first act and they’re ready for their close-up.

RELATED: Employee Skills Shortage Could be a Bigger Problem in 2018

This generation wants involvement, they want to matter, and they are adept at handling multiple tasks. With an eye to the future, they’re more globally minded. A work/life balance is vital to attracting Generation Z and they’re not especially materialistic.

The next-gen workforce is already shaping up. Here are some of the pros and a few cons that are store when your talent strategy revolves around them.

#1: Eager for Responsibility

Generation Z hits the workforce stage ready to take on anything. That’s true, whether or not they’re ready for it. These workers are confident in their abilities and they’re ready to prove what they can do.

On the downside, they might be too eager. There’s a documented skills shortage that employers are beginning to measure. Generation Z expects a good position and opportunity for advancement, but their schedule might not be the same as yours. If SHRM’s research is correct, many from this generation need some additional training in these areas:

  • Written and oral communication
  • Mathematics
  • Reading comprehension
  • Basic computer skills

#2: Independent Thinkers and Workers

These young workers are bright and like to think for themselves. They’re confident in what they know and they aren’t afraid to work independently. That does well for an improving remote employee candidate base, as well.

The downside of this characteristic is perhaps too much confidence that isn’t in balance with their level of experience. They want to innovate. They want to create and be recognized for their efforts. Recruiter.com says, “They want to make a difference.” In that way, they’re similar to their Millennial predecessors. Giving them opportunities to take the reins, even for small projects, can help keep them engaged.

#3: Extremely Tech Savvy

This point doesn’t contradict the skills shortage issue as much it seems. Generation Z has never known a time when computers weren’t everywhere. Technology is in every room of every home and every vehicle on the road. For them, it practically always has been. But their coming of age happened when desktop computing was giving way to mobile devices. Native advertising research by Sharethrough says they use mobile for movies, TV and more.

Gen Z knows all about the newest technology. They’re not afraid of what will happen if they click this button or connect that device. They ‘get’ the connected or smart office in ways that some GenXers and Baby Boomers might not. But as for working at a desk with a computer, they might need some practice.

Talent strategy

For Gen Z, the busier the better.

#4: Able to Juggle Numerous Tasks

Gen Z is flexible. They can handle fast-paced work and a heavy, varied workload. They want to be challenged, in part because challenge is a route to recognition and a better job. But don’t call it “multitasking.” They probably know that has been debunked. Just appreciate their ability to serial task, switching from one task to another more seamlessly and perhaps with less stress than older generations can.

On the downside, this juggling mindset can lead to taking on too much. Confidence is great and the ability to mentally compartmentalize projects helps with focus. But in their eagerness to work and work hard, they might be prone to taking on more than they can really handle.

#5: High Expectations for Career and Personal Life

If you thought Millennials wanted a healthy, well-rounded life, wait until you have several Gen Z people on staff. Work/life balance is vital to this, the youngest generation in the workforce. But don’t assume that you know what balance means to them. They love nice things but they’re frugal. They want to buy a home. They also want a career they can be proud of.

Unlike Millennials, Gen Z is hot and motivated and ready to be a star. But they also like the idea of working for a small company. That’s the impression that Recruiter.com gets. Motivation can lead them to challenge both educational norms and mundane norms around the office. They believe that they matter. When the company agrees, they get some of the meaning they’re looking for.

Talent strategy

If they have too much time to get bored and think, they’ll probably think about a different job.

#6: Easily Bored and Ready for Something New

With all of that energy comes restlessness. Employee engagement matters more now than perhaps ever. Generation Z might be the first to bolt out the door for something new. They’re married to the concept of goals and self-improvement. If their current job isn’t as good as the one across the street, they might be in the crosswalk by noon.

To keep this generation on board, keep them engaged. That means revisiting what makes them tick and offering opportunities that resonate.

  • Training helps them hone skills, which speaks to self-improvement and more opportunities in the company
  • Freedom to innovate shows that the company believes in them and values their opinion
  • Giving them some challenging work and minor leadership opportunities to complement the usual entry-level tedium keeps their minds active and shows that there are greater heights to strive for in the company
  • Open communication helps Gen Z feel respected while you set realistic boundaries when they expect too much

Baby Boomers are beginning to exit stage left and enter retirement. Generation X is sliding little by little into those positions. On their heels, Millennials are maturing at work and just starting to ramp up to their peak earning years.

Meanwhile, Gen Z has just hit the stage in a play with many acts.

The idea of working the job around the employee might be a bit foreign. But time marches on and the youngest workers in America will one day make up the bulk of the workforce. An evolution is taking place, partly fueled by record low unemployment levels. A newer mentality about what work means in the grand scheme of life is in the mix, as well.

Younger workers who feel engaged are less likely to leave. That means you’ll have less churn and fewer jobs to fill while building teams that work effectively. You’ll spend less on sourcing and hiring and have a better talent pool in-house when a job does open up.

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Carole Oldroyd

Carole Oldroyd is a writer and graphic artist living in East Tennessee. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, LegalZoom, and numerous other magazines, websites and blogs. When she isn’t writing, she can be found restoring her historic Victorian home piece by piece.

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About Carole Oldroyd

Carole Oldroyd is a writer and graphic artist living in East Tennessee. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, LegalZoom, and numerous other magazines, websites and blogs. When she isn’t writing, she can be found restoring her historic Victorian home piece by piece.

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