Generation Z is the first generation that can barely remember a time before smartphones and the internet. They hold many qualities in common with millennials, but have been greatly influenced by coming of age during the Great Recession. Understanding how these factors make them unique is the first step to understanding how they will change the workplace.
Understanding How Generation Z Differs from Millennials
Millennials grew up in a digital world, but Gen Zers are true digital natives and, as such, always want to be connected. They want the answers at their fingertips, and fast. Here are some other points where they are unique from their predecessors:
- Less focused. Gen Z members were born into a world that doesn’t stand still. They process information quickly, thanks to Snapchat and similar apps. This also means they have an even shorter attention span.
- Better multi-taskers. Gen Z students learned to create a document on a school computer, upload it to the cloud, do research on the bus ride home using their phone or tablet, and finish it on their laptop while Face Timing with a friend. This multi-connected mindset can come in handy in a busy workplace.
- 72 percent of teens report wanting to start their own business. This generation tends to be frugal, probably relating to the recession during their childhoods in 2008. They also value experiences over education, which increases the likelihood they’ll become entrepreneurs. If not, they can be self-starters with an independent streak in the workplace.
- Tech-driven. While millennials believe in the power of technological solutions, Gen Z is entirely devoted to the idea. Whether they invest in a gadget that lets them feed their pets remotely or use a tax calculator to figure out what they owe the IRS, they are always looking for a faster, more efficient way to accomplish tasks.
- Big on individuality. Gen Z’ers were born to socialize online, so 92 percent of them have a digital presence. Gen Z members seek uniqueness in their connections, in the brands they purchase, and in the companies they decide to work for.
Mentoring Generation Z
Research suggests Gen Z is looking for stable positions with growth opportunities — in fact, 64 percent of them report growth as their main career priority. This generation has listed the way they want to learn in the workplace, and mentoring programs rank at the top. Data shows Gen Z believes mentoring ability is one of the most important qualities in an effective leader.
Ways Generation Z Will Transform the Workplace
Understanding how Generation Z thinks is a great start, but it’s also important to know what they value in workplace features. From integrative technology to Face Timing with the boss, Gen Z expects unique properties in a workplace, and this will quickly transform the way we work.
A bonus feature: Besides making Gen Z employees more comfortable and increasing retention, many of these technological innovations that transform the workplace also can benefit the entire organization.
This digitally savvy generation expects the workplace to keep up with the pace of current technology trends, such as:
- Internet of things: Smart lights, virtual thermostats, virtual-reality cameras, and other helpful gadgets are already making inroads into homes across the globe. The next logical step is to incorporate these efficient systems into your next office upgrades. Their convenience can benefit employees and companies in matters of time, efficiency, wear and tear, and even security.
- Machine learning: Machine intelligence is already present in knowledge management. To stay in touch with Generation Z employees, companies can utilize this technology to automate more mundane work tasks and help employees work faster and smarter.
- Virtual reality conferencing: New technology is allowing teams from around the globe to converge in virtual meetings, allowing connection and information sharing from anywhere. Big-screen TVs are replacing projectors. Chromecast and Apple TV make it easy for guests to connect directly to PowerPoint presentations. Conferencing apps like Zoom require only a simple 9-digit number or name to join a video call. This functionality offers a welcome change that Generation Z and millennial employees will be on board with.
Something to note, especially for those in IT: This generation won’t want to use out-of-date office technology and may prefer to access information via their personal phones or tablets for convenience, especially during remote work.
Wide Open Spaces
Understanding the preferences of both millennials and Gen Z can help you create an office environment conducive to both, and more comfortable for all. For example, both generations want upgraded offices that provide comfortable and collaborative places to work. Gen Zers often prefer more face-to-face interaction than their millennial counterparts, so make sure any upgrade includes spaces to accommodate both collaboration and privacy.
Daily Interaction with the Boss
Frequent feedback may improve Gen Z employee retention. Sixty percent of Generation Z have reported wanting face-to-face check-ins with their managers throughout the week, and 40 percent say that should happen daily or even multiple times each day. This preference is different from that of most millennials, who prefer text-based communication.
Diversity and Inclusion is a Must-Have
Sixty-three percent of Gen Z values diversity of education and skill levels among their peers. Additionally, 20 percent believe that diverse cultural backgrounds are the key element of building an effective team.
By 2020, the Gen Z cohort is expected to represent 20 percent of the U.S. workforce and will bring new ideas and different ways of doing things to the office. The implementation of these ideas may require an adjustment period for workers from other generations, even millennials. The good news is that the innovations that accompany Gen Z’s arrival in the workplace can have positive effects for every generation of worker, as well as the companies that employ them.
This article was contributed by Laura Gayle. To read more of Laura’s work, head over to Business Woman Guide.
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