Getting To Know Gen Z And How They Like To Work

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by viperk's , last updated on

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The Internet comes equipped with countless articles sharing advice on how to manage the millennial workforce. Lately, I’ve become more interested in learning how the next generation—Generation Z—likes to work. That’s why I wanted to attend a specific concurrent session at this year’s SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition: “Engaging the Workforce of the Future: The Emergence of Generation Z”

First and foremost, I’ve found through my research that Generation Z is more easily defined than the Millennial generation—which seems to have a thousand different definitions and descriptions. Members of Generation Z were born between 1994 and 2010 and entered the workforce for the first time in 2016. Members of Gen Z are also typically thought of as being extremely comfortable with technology, and they spend a lot of their time interacting on social media websites.

By 2020, this generation is expected to make up roughly one-fourth of the United States’ workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If you’re an employer who is gearing up to hire fresh faces from the Generation Z talent pool, you may want to keep reading.

During the SHRM session, Randstad’s CHRO Jim Link shared some great insights, data included, which centered around three main themes: Working Styles, Feedback and Communication. As a bonus, you may also learn a thing or two about millennials.

How Gen Z Likes To Work

Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find a workplace that doesn’t offer open offices or workplace messaging systems like Slack. These changes have come about to cater to the millennial generation, which values collaboration in the workplace.

Randstad’s Link says the same applies to Generation Z. They like to get things done with the help of digital devices to crowdsource or to access an online community. In other words, don’t plan on instituting any kind of cell-phone free work environment, not that any smart company would do such a thing. One suggestion Link made when it comes to attracting and retaining Generation Z is rethinking your workplace’s design. For instance, create a more open concept featuring shared workspace and alternative seating arrangements.

One contrarian opinion in a recent LinkedIn blog said to not operate under the assumption that Generation Z enjoys working in a collaborative environment like Millennials. According to research conducted by “Gen Z Gurus” David Stillman and his seventeen-year-old son Jonah, Gen Z is actually more independent than the generations that preceded them.

According the Stillmans, 35% of Generation Z would rather share stocks than an office space. Recruiters may have more success if they promote private offices and a competitive salary to this entrepreneurial-minded generation.

How Gen Z Likes To Receive Feedback

As I mentioned in my SHRM recap blog, gone are the days of the annual review. This mindset is extremely applicable to Generation Z, as they want highly engaged managers and real-time feedback. And while Gen Z grew up with technology and use it often to complete projects or share experiences with friends, they “crave” in-person communication when it comes to feedback, Link said.

Remember how I said you may learn a thing or two about millennials in this blog, too? Well, here are some interesting stats from Randstad’s study, “Gen Z and Millennials Collide@Work”:

  • 28% of both Generation Z and Millennial employees prefer feedback from their manager after every project, assignment or task;
  • 26% prefer weekly feedback;
  • 20% prefer daily feedback; and
  • 1% want to wait until the annual performance review to hear how they are doing.

"If you haven't adjusted your feedback process, you need to do it," Link said. "They get everything else in their life in real time."

How Gen Z Likes To Communicate

What’s that classic saying? Innovate or die. With Gen Z, it’s “Internet or die.” I just made that up, and I’m pretty proud of it. Feel free to share my amazing epiphany (hopefully you’re picking up on my sarcasm).

Link’s suggestion for reaching this younger generation? Have a YouTube channel and a Snapchat. This is how Generation Z is communicating with each other, therefore companies need to use these platforms to approach potential job candidates, customers and clients if they want to impact their business’ bottom line.

No matter what you do as a company, you’ll benefit more with Generation Z (and Millennials) by being in more places online. Remember, this generation is spending a lot of time on the Internet—and they’re multitasking, so the more platforms the better. Just make sure you’re communicating your employer branding in a consistent manner. And be authentic. That alone will pay dividends.

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Eric Golubitsky

Eric brings 18+ years of entrepreneurial experience. Eric founded S.M.I.L.E. Inc. in 1998, which was a Consumer Electronic Pro Top 100 home automation provider and was recognized as the #1 fastest growing company in NE Ohio by CWRU Weatherhead School of Management in 2003. As an Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" finalist in 2005, Eric's accomplishments have been recognized multiple times including the Consumer Electronics Association's national "Mark of Excellence Award." Eric is also a 5 year member of EO (Entrepreneurs Organization).