Will all the focus on millennials, little attention has been invested in nurturing the new generation of workers entering the workplace: Generation Z.
Cheryl Benadie, CEO, Whole Person Academy
Also known as iGen, Post-Millennals and even centennials, these emerging workers differ from their millennial counterparts in key aspects:
- Digital natives: This is the first generation that has had technology permeate their lives. They’ve never known a world without the internet, never used a phone with a cord attached to it and have to do an internet search to see what floppy disks used to look like.
Unlike millennials, who are digital pioneers in the sense that they adapted to the integration of technology as it evolved, Gen Zs are capable of constantly adapting to rapidly evolving technologies. This innate skills set is vital in strengthening organisational agility.
- Independent: They are happy to work within cohesive teams but prefer to work independently when possible, which makes this group more adaptable to remote work scenarios, such as we’ve seen with the COVID-19 crisis.
- Prefer face to face: Research into the workplace expectations of GenZs reveal a desire for frequent face to face interaction with managers or team leaders. This leans into their expectation to have access to frequent feedback on their work activities. They seek out leadership and coaching because they want to grow fast and move to the next level of their career.
- On demand learning: GenZs are on trace to be the most education generation, with an emerging preference for on demand learning. They will seek out employers who have clear career paths and engaging training and development opportunities.
- Role hopping: Whereas millennials were notorious for being job-hoppers, GenZs have an expectation to take on various roles within the same organisation, particularly taking advantage of opportunities that will expand their scope of experience within the sector.
GenZs also expect to work for organisations that have a soul. The vision and mission statement that’s on the company website needs to be felt in the interactions they have with colleagues and customers.
The emerging workforce wants to know that the brand that they associate themselves with when they get the employee number matches their personal values. Organisations that embrace diversity, openness and service with a social conscience will be preferred employers for these creative and passionate generation.
How do you integrate young employees into current teams?
One of the biggest challenges with onboarding of young staff members is their integration into existing teams. Underlying age biases notwithstanding, the key relationship that requires intentional cultivation is that of the line manager or team leader with the young employee.
GenZs (and millennials, for that matter), are looking for leaders, not managers. They thrive within teams that embrace a less formal team structure. It’s a case of “help me understand why we have to do things this way”. Investments in training managers to become coaches and mentors will result in greater engagement among younger employees, who desire to have a voice within an organisation.
Creating an entrepreneurial culture is another way that the work culture should be adapted to accommodate the energies and inputs of younger employees. According to research conducted by Deloitte, Understanding Generation Z in the workplace, ‘Gen Z desires diverse and entrepreneurial opportunities with the safety of stable employment and will remain loyal to a company if they can offer this.’
Developing strategies to attract and retain GenZs needs to include robust training and leadership programs, with a real and tangible focus on diversity.