Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, is a term used to describe individuals born any time between 1995 and 2010. With over 61 million of these individuals slated to enter the workforce in the next five to ten years, it is natural that many of the older workers already present in the workforce are a little apprehensive on how to work with these newer –and younger- workers. However, almost a third of the workforce by 2025 will be Generation Z. Therefore, understanding how to work with them will prove essential for any manager. The first factor with managing this younger generation is to recognize their wants and needs.
The Wants and Needs of Generation Z
James Colino, the CEO of Sheetz, states that “(Generation Z) has been subjected to political, privacy, technological and gender issues that have shaped how they think. Rather than giving them a pass on performance, it is required that leaders take the extra time to acknowledge differences, be inclusive, and find solutions that work for both customers and employees.”
Sheetz has been noted to be within the top 50 workplaces for Generation Z at both the entry level as well as within the corporate side of management. Colino has correctly stated how Gen Z prioritizes topics and how they’re treated.
Gen Z is the least inclined to plan to stay in their job. In a study made by greatplacetowork in conjunction with Pell, only 77% of workers agreed with the statement that they would plan to stay at their job. In contrast, the next youngest generation, the millennials, are of a much more resolute mind, boasting a strong 88% stating that they plan to stay in their jobs. Generation Z workers tend to prefer jobs that have some form of additional meaning, rather than just a salaried position. In addition to this, they are less likely than older generations to accept profits and pay under the opinion that they receive a fair share of profits and pay. It is important to recognize why Generation Z works, and what they choose a job for.
Deloitte has researched several of the top reasons that Generation Z workers have chosen their current job. 32% of workers strongly prioritized a high level of work-level balance. 29% chose to prioritize learning and development opportunities. 24% chose to fight for higher salaries. Finally, 23% of these individuals chose a positive workplace culture. Many of these workers also have hefty expectations about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, also abbreviated as DEIB.
For Generation Z, work doesn’t just have to do with a way to kill time, but rather a way to support both them and their hobbies, and often satisfy some form of larger desire they have, such as philanthropy or charity. Understanding how to enable these needs can be a way to connect to these younger workers and have more loyal workers. DEI in the workplace shares great insight on how to properly foster loyalty in teams.
What does Generation Z want within their Workplace?
Generation Z has multiple aspects of a proper workplace that they feel is indispensable to their working career. According to Pew Research, Generation Z is more diverse than any other before it, especially in the professional working industry. One in five Generation Z workers identify as LGTBQIA and is less composed of Caucasians as previous generations. As mentioned before, this generation strongly prefers diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within the workplace. Generation Z also has a few other things that they like to be modeled within their workplace as well.
· A fair workplace- Gen Z has grown up with media and experiences explaining nepotism in great depth, such as in history classes, their part-time jobs, and elsewhere. Showing that promotions are awarded fairly, and that no employee is held in higher regard than everyone else for no reason can have a drastic impact on these workers’ perceptions of you as a manager.
· A fast-paced workplace- Generation Z has been through multiple major world events as they have grown and matured. This list of events includes multiple pandemics, such as Ebola and COVID-19, 9/11, the rise and fall of ISIS, multiple natural disasters, and so much more. Generation Z has been conditioned to be extremely flexible and adaptive to trauma and occurrences. Similarly, they expect a workplace that is quick and easy to adapt to challenges. This makes them much better with problem-solving, if everyone around them is equally willing to rise to a challenge and adapt.
· Involvement in major decision making- While not all decisions being made are ones that entry level workers should be involved in, there are certain decisions that anyone should be able to have a say in. This falls back to the Goreman Leadership styles, under the democratic leadership method. The democratic leadership styles state that any member can come in with an idea and can determine whether or not the idea is worth going forth with by using a consensus amongst other members, along with a final ruling by a leader. Democratic Leadership is particularly useful at getting team member involvement and retaining staff, but has a flaw in its speed, often taking time to come up with decisions. However, since Generation Z is such a fast-working collective, they can overcome this hurdle easily.
· Mentorship and Nurturing- Generation Z is by no means a “soft” generation, or unable to conduct networking. However, due to their fast paced and rapidly changing surroundings, they often need a hand in approaching certain cultures, or could be in use of a mentor. Fostering growth in these individuals can be rewarding and will make a dramatic difference to them. Remember that your experience is a privilege that not everyone has been afforded yet. Use it to help the person who may one day help others down the line as well.
All in all, Generation Z has a burning desire to work, but not just for themselves. With this in mind, and the resources stated above, use this information to make a workplace better suited to this younger demographic. By no means should this workplace exclude older people, but it should be a bridge between the two demographics. Understand that Generation Z will soon make up an even more significant part of the workplace, and that your actions could change the way that workplace looks.