Are Your Leaders Ready for the Gen-Z Workforce?

Born between 1997 and 2012, the oldest members of Generation Z are already graduating from college and entering the workforce. Similar to the Millennials that preceded them, Generation Z is poised to disrupt current business trends and trajectories, bringing their own expectations with them into the offices and workspaces they inhabit. This, coupled with their overwhelming size (with a projected boom of 61 million new job seekers) makes the Post-Millennial generation transformative and one that will demand every business’ attention.

To prepare your company for this oncoming organizational shift, it’s essential to be aware of the typical characteristics of the youngest members of the current workforce, as well as how these characteristics will translate into their work habits and performance.

Let’s start by identifying the key behaviors, demographics, and opinions that Gen Z’ers commonly display.

A Breakdown of Generation Z

Who, exactly, is Generation Z? Research by Concordia University, St. Paul, highlights some of the primary attributes that make the people of Generation Z who they are.

Generation Z is nearly 50% non-white, making them the most ethnically diverse generation to date in the United States. As consumers who grew up in a recessive economy, Gen Z’ers are careful shoppers, and 35% of them are already saving for retirement in their 20s.

These traits have led to a young workforce driven by job security. They are willing to work hard (so long as they see a bump in their paychecks), place a high value on developing their own proficiencies in the workplace, and often prefer to work individually. In fact, more than three-quarters (76%) of the Post-Millennial generation believe that they alone are responsible for driving their own careers.

The iGeneration

While it’s a good idea for employers to be aware of all these traits, only one key distinction may wholly affect how your company manages its business: Generation Z’s relationship with technology. Considered the first digital natives, tablets, smartphones and other internet-connected devices have never been far out of Generation Z’s reach. This explains their other popular moniker, the iGeneration.

Their relationship with technology in their personal lives has led to not only a proficiency with work-related tools, but also a demand for smarter businesses that utilize emerging technology to its full extent. As reported by author David Stillman, a supermajority (91%) of Gen Z says that “technical sophistication” would affect their decision to work for one company over another. Integrating the technology that Generation Z craves will become increasingly essential for businesses looking to target and hire the younger workforce.

Technology to Unite the Generations

Just because the iGeneration is employed at your business does not mean that previous generations no longer work there. Because many people are now working deep into what used to be their retirement years, today’s workforce is more generationally diverse and expansive than any before it.

The seemingly impossible task for your business, therefore, is to find technology that caters to the demands of Gen Z’ers without alienating their older colleagues. With so many different technologies emerging every day, it’s a good idea to take a step back to research solutions that are equal parts intuitive and innovative before making a purchase.

Because every generation gravitates towards different methods of communication (older workers being more comfortable with in-person conversations and younger employees more prone to sending texts and using messaging platforms, for example), utilizing communication technology that bridges this gap is essential for unifying your multi-generational teams. One example is a technology known as VoIP, or Voice over IP. VoIP systems harness internet broadband to send and receive voice messages. This provides older employees with a familiar phone system while simultaneously offering new features, such as tablet and laptop compatibility, for digital natives.

When it comes to streamlining your work processes, you can connect your team across the generational spectrum by starting your business’ journey with technology that uses artificial intelligence, such as automation. Thanks to their ability to detect and recreate patterns in your workflow, artificial intelligence and machine learning help businesses collect buckets of data, adapt work processes through learning algorithms, and replicate human work. Employees of all ages have enjoyed the benefits of automation, as it has the potential to alleviate the workloads of younger and older workers alike. This allows your team members to focus on their high-level, critical work instead of day-to-day, menial tasks.

A final multi-generational tool to consider in your workspaces is called the “cloud,” a network of servers that users can access over the internet. The cloud is not so much a singular tool as it is a new method for accessing whatever data, documents, or applications your business needs to support its operations. For the iGeneration, the benefit of cloud-based workspaces is the ability to work more flexibly; they can locate all of the tools they need from their work PC or their personal phone, from the office or their desk at home. Older employees, on the other hand, will enjoy how much easier it is to manage. Because these servers are handled by off-site IT teams, you won’t have to worry about software updates, bug fixes, or backups on your cloud-based solutions.

Remember: We Are More Similar Than Different

Although statistics and trends on the state of the workforce can be valuable indicators for businesses, a “one-size-fits-all” approach to hiring and training Gen Z’ers will be ineffective because your employees are people before they are a generation. As individuals, the motivations, perceptions, and values that drive them will be unique.

If you’re able to balance both the overarching trends of Generation Z as well as each person’s individual attributes, you’ll be better equipped than your competitors to bring in young, fresh talent.

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