We currently have four generations in the workforce: Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials, and Generation Zs. Gen Zs are those born between the mid-90s and early 2010s; the oldest of them entered the workforce a few years ago.
While some may argue that people are people and generations are not a basis for creating workplace policies, it’s also true that each new generation has different influences that shape its perspectives and impact how its members see the world and what they value.
Here are a few tips that could be particularly useful for the newest generation entering the workforce.
Tips for Managing Generation Z at Work
Here are a few things of particular importance for Gen Zs:
- They are likely to value training and development opportunities. As such, employers should emphasize these programs where they exist, such as highlighting training opportunities or developing entire personalized career pathways. Show how the job will advance over time so Gen Z employees can quickly see advancement opportunities.
- Members of this generation will likely assume they will have some degree of freedom in their work hours. They’ve seen Millennials rely on gig work as a primary source of income, and they know it’s a flexible choice and may expect that flexibility in general. They may be less likely to crave hierarchy and rigid structure but may highly value work/life balance.
- This generation has grown up in an era of smartphones being the primary means of communication and other things, like ordering food, interacting with organizations, and more. They will therefore expect to interact with people and organizations through apps. That said, they’re so accustomed to using phones for everything that they’re starting to trend toward more in-person communications. Minimally, they may prefer video calls over texting and value in-person time with their colleagues.
- Coming of age in a time when salary information is readily available online means this generation is more likely to do salary research and know how much the average person in a given position should negotiate for. Be prepared and knowledgeable about the market pay levels.
- With more information about what’s happening around the globe, this generation is even better informed about the issues facing the world today and thus is more likely to want to do something about them. This generation’s members are likely to be socially and environmentally conscious as a result.
- They were old enough to see the Great Recession affecting their families, which has made side gigs and freelance work seem normal to them. This furthers the idea that they’ll be less likely to want a rigid structure just for the sake of structure, like forced working hours when there isn’t a business reason.
- Growing up with smartphones and Google means there is the expectation that information and data will be readily available, in addition to receiving information on how they’re doing quickly—they’re likely to want more feedback more often than previous generations.
Of course, this list is not comprehensive, but it provides a brief overview of what to expect from the latest generation joining our workforce today. What has your experience been so far? What would you add to this list?
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.