For a while, Millennials have been the focus of workplace trends. But as the people in Gen Z begin to build their careers, the workplace is changing yet again to reflect new norms. Members of Gen Z were born in the mid-nineties and many are already in the workforce full-time. Here are a few ways the workplace is being changed by this generation:
Gen Z grew up with technology. Being able to use search engines and get information on demand has created an autonomous, self-starting culture in Gen Z. This is great for employers, but it represents a need to shift how entry-level positions are managed. Gen Z is capable, competent, and requires less hand-holding for basic tasks. On the other side, Gen Z members are still newbies in terms of experience. Strategic mentorship can be a great way to allow Gen Z to have autonomy while also guiding young employees with seasoned wisdom.
With employees who have grown up accustom to instant results, waiting for an annual review seems like torture. Gen Z wants credit for doing a good job. This doesn't mean Gen Z can't take criticism. But members of this group truly appreciate being told they've done a good job. An employee recognition program can go a long way to keep Gen Z motivated and engaged.
Gen Z witnessed the impact the Great Recession had on their families, and it's shaped how Gen Z thinks about salary and job security. Their unique worldview has instilled a hunger for higher salaries, but they're not just in it for the paycheck. Gen Z members are hard-working and competitive. They're constantly looking for an edge over the competition and a way to differentiate their value from their peers. But as with credit, recognition, and autonomy, Gen Z wants something in exchange for their work ethic: they want to know their job has a future. Employers can leverage this desire to build a strong, talented workforce.
While many corporations operate with limited technology, Gen Z finds this workplace norm frustrating. Gen Z is used to the latest and greatest in technology. They grew up with technology in their classrooms and homes. An old ThinkPad may not cut it for the Gen Z workplace, and the ability to go mobile is important for productivity.
As technology has made us more connected, it has also given employees the ability to be more flexible. Gen Z values the opportunity to have a flexible work arrangement. This can be an interesting challenge to traditional offices with regular hours, but Gen Z thinks about productivity and work cycles differently. It's worth exploring the idea of giving Gen Z deadlines rather than strict hours. However, it's ultimately an interesting challenge that employers should think of solving strategically and creatively. Lots of employees want to work from anywhere, but practical considerations should be made regarding feasibility.
Millennials and Gen Z have a few big distinctions. While both generations are tech-focused and educated, a few of their values differ. Millennials would rather have a job that provides opportunity, whereas Gen Z is less interested in job growth. This could be due to the fact that Gen Z is still in the early stages of career building, but if it continues to be true it may change how the workplace thinks about career longevity and what that means.
At age 23 and below, Gen Z is currently the youngest generation in the workforce. Their value, talent, and ambition will be shown over time. Like most youth, Gen Z is optimistic about what their opportunities look like. To foster a welcoming environment for Gen Z, take the time to learn about your new recruits. They're not just kids with iPhones and tablets. They're driven, curious, and excited to begin their careers. How will they change your workplace? Only the future will know.