While there’s some disagreement as to the exact start year of Generation Z, one thing is certain: The oldest members of the post-millennial group will be off to college and joining the workforce within the next few years, and employers need to be ready for them.
There’s certainly some overlap between Gen Y and Gen Z, both in age (depending on whom you ask) and workplace preferences. But these two groups are not identical, and can’t be treated as if they are, said Denise Lage, vice president of channel sales and strategic alliances, Americas at workplace solutions provider Condeco Software.
“Unlike millennials, who gravitate to places of work that offer the best happy hours, game nights and on-site gyms, Gen Z-ers look for a workplace that minimizes distractions so they can fully focus on making a difference both in and out of the office,” said Lage, whose company recently conducted research on Gen Z workplace attitudes. “They value being productive and will not tolerate any logistical or technological hiccups in their workday.”
Ulrik Bo Larsen, CEO of Falcon Social, employs Gen Z-ers at his enterprise social media management platform, and noted that their technological proficiency is one of this generation’s most defining characteristics. While older millennials grew up during the dawn of the digital age, much of Gen Z was born into it, and employers should prepare to use this truly “digital native” generation to their fullest potential.
“I’d advise employers to take advantage of the fact that this will be the most online, social generation yet,” Larsen said. “Get them involved in your branding through employee advocacy programs. With Gen Z, you’ll soon have a hive of social media experts on staff, so encourage them and benefit from their reach –– but they will expect to be involved and activated in return.”