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October 28, 2019
Kate Marshall

Move over millennials: How Gen Z is reshaping work

It seems that it’s only been a few short years ago that the term “millennial” reached a new apex of popularity. Once the phrase “it’s a millennial thing” became truly universal, it seems as if society forgot that future generations were also on the rise.

How to work with Gen Z

Those born between the years of 1997 and 2012 are fast on their way to becoming young adults and will most certainly upend the labor market yet again. As the first generation that has never known a world without computers and internet technology, Gen Zers have an embedded sense of tech integration that has never before been seen in history.

With 17 million members of Generation Z already in the workforce today, it’s time for companies to take a serious look at how they can leverage and retain their unique talents.

Gen Z knows what they want (and they’re willing to wait for it)

More than any other generation in history, the young adults comprising Generation Z have clearly defined their wish to strike a healthy balance between work and life.

Given the tremendous rise in popularity of productivity tools designed to facilitate remote work, it should come as no surprise that young adults today place immense importance on the ability to work outside of the office while still retaining full-time status—and all of its benefits. For employers, confronting this new reality of distance collaboration may not be ideal, but all know it’s necessary.

Although certainly in good intent, pushing the notion that the best productivity is captured in communal office spaces is outdated, at best. Given the number of studies being released on a regular basis praising the efficiency of the work from home phenomenon, employers can no longer afford to ignore this trend. Far more than millennials or their parents, Gen Z job applicants have the ability to say “no” if their employers won’t compromise on issues such as these.

Gen Z keeps it cool

Gone are the days when the decision as to whether or not to accept a position teeters on salary alone. Although compensation remains an integral element for attracting top talent, Gen Z employees also place immense importance on the branding and outward appearance of the companies they work for. Simply put, Gen Z wants their employer to be cool. And hey, we don't blame them!

Defining “cool” in this context can be a conundrum for business owners who typically have never associated a “cool factor” with their line of work. However, with the rise of new, modern players in these industries (such as insurance company Jetty and loan lender Payoff) it's now expected for companies to keep up with the Joneses, even when that keeping up traditionally hasn't been correlated with outward appearances.

That being said, there are some tangible methods for approaching this topic. Regardless of industry, business owners should ensure that they devote attention to the outward-facing platforms they manage—namely their website and social media pages. Regularly engaging with users and providing a consistent stream of media content helps build a corporate identity for those looking in from the outside. And of course, Gen Zers are social media natives.

Compensation is more than a paycheck

Having grown up watching the world around them struggle during the 2007 financial crisis—despite the growing cost of higher education—Generation Z is less apt to fall into the familiar old habits which left the people they care about in mounds of debt.

Because of this, employers seeking to tap into this talent pool should be prepared to demonstrate to Gen Z applicants that they are serious about helping their employees prepare for and reach a stable financial future.

Whether it’s an upfront discussion about 401(k) options or an overview of incentives to help pay down student debt, employers have the means to open up an honest and sincere dialogue with Gen Zers about the long-term perks available to those who jump on board. After all, it would be a mistake for employers to assume that Gen Z applicants are thinking short-term. A growing number of studies are revealing that Gen Z is substantially more financially literate than the millennials who came before them. Simply put, they haven’t had to “learn the hard way” what those before them confronted.

Perks also factor prominently into recruitment efforts. While employers don’t need to go out of their way to “bribe” prospective applicants, there is certainly nothing wrong with incentivizing hard work and exceptional performance.

Gen Z isn’t afraid to innovate

Interestingly enough, similar to millennials, Gen Z’s pursuit of independence and personal growth is also intrinsically linked to the identity they assume when they take a new job.

By far the most important lesson a business owner can learn about Gen Z is that these young adults have the skills and knowledge to transform the economy as we know it.

It will require substantial trial and effort to develop a best practice method for leveraging the creative talents of Gen Z, but with that said, the results are shaping up to not only justify but exceed the means.

Whether it’s collaborative think tanks, employer-sponsored hack-a-thons, or just about any creative endeavor out there which allows employees to venture outside their current role to solve problems, these types of activities can yield powerful results and simultaneously foster a fantastic corporate culture for new and established employees alike. Suffice to say, the future is looking very bright with Gen Z on the horizon.

Next up: 11 ideas to get your entire workforce’s creative juices flowing

Zestful: recognize and reward your employees—minus the admin work.

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