I know, it probably seems like we just wrapped up with introducing Millennials into the workforce. After years of focus, online pop-psychology articles, and angry Tweets, Millennials are no longer the young, bright-eyed, straight-out-of-college kids they used to be. Millennials have moved on. Now, 47% of them are parents.
So, who is the next generation? Generation Z includes those with birthdates ranging from 1995-2012, the eldest of which are now out of college and starting out in their careers. Generation Z goes by several names, including I-Gen, Gen Tech, and Post-Millennials, but Gen Z seems to be the one used most frequently. This generation has been socialized into a different world in many senses than previous generations, so this may have some impact on how they appear at work.
That leads to a few more questions: What are they seeking in a work environment? How can you work with them?
Here are some basic strategies:
- Give Them Some Space. Gen Z is a very independent generation. 71% of Gen Z surveyed say that they agree with the phrase, “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself,” (Stillman and Stillman 12). Being raised by independent Gen Xers, and growing up in a time when the answer to any question is just a Google search away, Gen Z believes that they can do nearly everything alone. This viewpoint may clash with Millennials, who prefer group work and are more likely to appreciate an open office floor plan. Gen Z will likely get their best work done if you just give them a task and a little space to get it done. To bring this into action when delegating projects to members of Gen Z, give them each individual parts of a project, rather than having them work on the whole thing together as a group. Let them be the ones to make the decision of how much collaborative work is needed.
- Take Time to Talk to Them. Gen Z is often perceived as, “always on their phones,” by older generations. However, when it comes to inter-office communications, this is not always the case. 84% of Gen Z employees prefer speaking face-to-face with a boss, and 78% prefer speaking face-to face-with a peer (Stillman and Stillman). So, when it comes time to ask your new Gen Z colleague whether they’ve finished that report yet, maybe take the time to swing by their desk to do it.
- Understand their View on Technology. Gen Z has been raised surrounded by technology. For Gen Z teens, the median age they report receiving a smartphone is 12, (Seemiller and Grace, Century 40). Because of this, Gen Z is even more comfortable in the world of technology than Millennials. They will have a greater desire to intertwine their tasks and tech. 91% of Gen Z surveyed report that a company’s level of technological sophistication would have an impact on their decision to work there. Therefore, Gen Z will likely look for new ways to integrate technology into their work, be that working from home via internet, communication outside the traditional framework of email or phone calls, or things not yet discovered.
- Discover Their Passions. Generation Z, like Millennials, wants to leave a positive impact on the world. In a survey, 90% of Gen Z’ers said they think it’s important to make a positive social change in their careers (Seemiller and Grace, Century 216). In a work setting, allow some ability to express their passions. If you are the boss of a team of Gen Z’ers, maybe hold a work-based competition where the highest performer has money donated to their favorite charity. (As an added bonus: 70% of Gen Z reports being competitive with others performing the same tasks (Stillman and Stillman 12).)
- Learn About What Your Specific Gen Z Employees Want. All people are different, so take some time to learn more specifically about the Gen Z employee working with you. Learn what they want, and remember to treat them like people. They too are experiencing a new paradigm shift, so just try to have a little patience with them and allow them to become a wonderful new addition to your office.