This article was updated on July 20, 2018
Generation C is coming soon, and it promises to transform the multigenerational workforce and the way HR operates. Gen C has been defined in a number of ways. Some view them as the generation directly after Millennials, and born after 1997 (also known as Gen Z), while others view Gen C in a more general way, as digital natives who are identified not by age but by the shared "C" attributes detailed below.
As Baby Boomers increasingly delay retirement and Gen C enter the workforce, organizations now employ four different generations. So tailoring your HR offerings to multigenerational needs has never been more important.
To describe Gen C as tech-savvy might be an understatement, because most of them spend nearly every waking and sleeping hour within easy reach of their smart phones and mobile devices. As one typical Gen C member said in a Think With Google article: "I didn't have a phone for a day or so because it was stolen, and it felt like I was on another planet."
Their hyper-connectivity will redefine the workplace, allowing them to feel comfortable working anywhere, anytime while blurring the line between personal and professional time. The "traditional" idea of working 9-to-5 in a designated office is a foreign concept to them and does not exactly correlate with their world views. Constant connectivity untethers them from the office, even if it makes it more challenging to completely "unplug" from work.
Mobile technology not only gives Gen C the capability to work anywhere, anytime, but it also gives them a heightened sense of control and choice. They expect to interact with the world, whether by consuming entertainment, building community, receiving services (and making purchases) or engaging in work in a way that accommodates their hyper-digital expectations. If you want to engage Gen C, you'd better provide digital/mobile options that are convenient and empowering. Offering them flexibility and choice, such as a training class that's livestreamed (and then archived for convenient viewing later) is the best way forward.
In a way similar to Millennials, Gen C is entrenched in virtual and digital communities. They have adapted enthusiastically to workplace "connective" technologies, such as the increasing array of digital tools that support remote work and collaboration. To attract and retain Gen C, you'll need to continue to adapt technologies and practices that support remote and virtual collaboration, such as video conferencing.
Gen C deeply understands how digital transformation is altering work, putting a premium on flexibility and agility. Creativity has never been more essential, and size (not to mention traditional hierarchies) is often considered an obstacle to creativity by Gen C, according to Next Generation Speaker. As a result, they have an affinity for entrepreneurship and start-ups. For example, an amazing 61 percent of U.S. high school students would prefer to be entrepreneurs rather than employees, according the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
HR in a Gen C World
You'll need to prioritize digital/mobile connectivity in all your HR-related offerings in order to accommodate and empower Gen C employees. As ADP Research Institute's® Employee Self-Service and Mobile HR Applications white paper explains: "These young [Gen C] Americans are connected, communicating, collaborating, computerized, and seem always to be clicking. It is likely that they will readily adapt to mobile HR as they enter the workforce." Mobile transformation of HR holds the promise of boosting employee productivity, increasing employee satisfaction (especially among younger-skewing workers) and enabling 24/7 real-time communication with all your stakeholders.
Accommodating your Gen C employees will mean moving more aggressively toward offering all HR services in a mobile HR application that will put more power in the smart-phone-wielding hands of your employees. To support Gen C expectations for flexibility and remote working, for instance, you might offer a time and attendance system that supports mobile devices and enables employees to punch in from anywhere. Mobile solutions could also be created for pay and benefits, again putting choice and flexibility in the hands of employees who expect nothing less.
Generation C is coming online fast, and you'll have to adapt your HR offerings to the demands of this hyper-connected, hyper-mobile generation. Understanding their preferences is an essential foundation for meeting their needs for heightened flexibility and mobility.