Over the past few years, you've probably heard a lot of discussion about millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) and the impact they're making on the modern workplace, but now a new generation is poised to make its mark: Generation Z.
Gen Z includes the 72.8 million Americans born after 1995, so industries that tend to hire high school and college students, such as retail and hospitality, may already be familiar with this demographic. With increasing numbers of Gen Zers entering the workforce each year, you'll need some generational intelligence to effectively recruit and engage this population, and fortunately, it's available. Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace, by David and Jonah Stillman, a father-and-son author team, offers plenty of insights and advice to help you accommodate Generation Z in your workplace. For now, here are five essential things to know about this new generation of workers:
1. They're "Phigital"
Gen Zers are digital natives, so they are comfortable in both the physical and digital worlds. They may be able to help drive digital solutions to your business problems. According to the Stillmans, 91 percent of Gen Zers will be looking at an organization's level of digital sophistication before deciding to work there.
2. They're "Hyper-Custom"
Gen Zers create their personal brands on social media. They want the ability to customize their job titles, their job descriptions and their work. They also want training that prioritizes self-learning tools (for example, YouTube) and individual, face-to-face coaching. You can expect Gen Z to object to anything that smacks of "one-size-fits-all" in the workplace.
3. They Are Realistic
The Gen Zers entering the workforce grew up in the wake of 9/11 and the Great Recession. The rising generation tends to be far less idealistic than Gen Y. Unlike millennials, Gen Zers appreciate direct communication that isn't sugarcoated. The Stillmans' survey found that 85 percent of Gen Zers want "straightforward, constructive communication" on the job. They also prioritize loyalty, which, again, sets them apart from mIllennials. More than six in 10 Gen Zers expressed a willingness to remain at one company for more than 10 years, which could be good news for employers.
4. They Have a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Gen Z doesn't want to miss anything, which can be great for organizations that need to stay abreast of trends. But their FOMO can also create distraction and anxiety, preventing Gen Z from focusing too deeply on any one thing.
5. They Want to Do It Themselves
Gen Zers are makers who like to build things on their own. They prefer to start building something and learn as they go, rather than meticulously planning everything in advance. They're so entrepreneurial that many have full-time jobs as well as "side gigs" — they might be building a mobile app or another business in their spare time.
Check out our two-part interview with David Stillman in which he offers sage advice on how to leverage and cater to Gen Z's unique qualities:
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