This guest blog has been provided by Kevin Sheridan, best-selling author and innovator in the field of Employee Engagement.
Millennials, Millennials, Millennials. Very much in line with Millennials’ insatiable desire for recognition, it seems like the last ten years of articles, videos, and speeches, were all about them.
As the first surge of Generation Z enters the workplace, organizations may be surprised at how different they are from Millennials (also known as Generation Y). Organizations, human resource leaders, and managers will need to learn about, and fully understand, this unique generation especially since they may be the solution to the never-ending talent attraction and talent retention challenge. Thus, employers will need to also adapt and bring a whole new way of working to the workplace to win over Gen Z.
Who are they?
Most commonly referred to as Generation Z, there are many other monikers given to this generation, including Digital Natives, Globals, Post-Millennials, Millennials-On-Steroids, iGeneration, Plurals, The Homeland Generation, Centennials, and Delta Generation, or Deltas. MTV has labeled them The Founders. The fact that there are so many names floating about for this generation illustrates the general lack of understanding them. The rough consensus on what years they were born is from 1995 to 2014. They are the children of Generation X. Native-born American members of Generation Z number roughly 60 million, just outnumbering their endlessly dissected Millennial elders by one million, according to Susan Weber-Stoger, a demographer at Queens College.
Lena Dunham photo – CNN. Kylie Jenner photo – The Independent
|(Born 1980-1994)||(Born 1995-2014)|
|TV Icon: Lena Dunham||Kylie Jenner|
|Music: Lady Gaga, Beyonce||Lorde|
|Social Media: Facebook, Instagram||Snapchat, Whisper|
|Web Star: PewDiePie, YouTube||Lele Pons, Vine|
|Style Influencer: The Olsen Twins||Tavi Gevinson|
|Clothes: American Apparel||Shop Jeen|
|First Gadget: Walkman, CD player, or iPod||iPhone, iPad|
So what makes Gen Z different, and specifically what will companies need to do differently to attract and retain them?
They have strong preferences for immediate access to information and want their employee experience to fully integrate with, and match, their customer experience.
Having lived through the Great Recession of 2008, they value financial security more than other generations. Having seen their parents laid off during the recession, this left a lasting impression on Generation Z.
Again, Gen Z’s sensitivity to financial and job security will make them appreciate their job, pay, and employer, far more than Millennials did. This loyalty transcends into their church attendance: 41% of Gen Z attended church during their young adulthood, compared to 18% for Millennials at the same ages, 21% of Generation X, and 26% for Baby Boomers.1
In fact, 82% of Gen Zs consider Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a major factor in deciding where to work.2 In addition, 66% of this generation would take a pay cut to work at a more socially responsible company.3 In fact, it is not unheard of for Digital Natives to walk out of a job interview if they see the company still uses plastic water bottles and straws, most of which wind up in a landfill.
While Gen Z values money more than Millennials, they also value learning and career development. In fact, 81% of Gen Z believes that a college degree is necessary to obtain one’s career goals.4 Furthermore, Gen Z is far more prepared to focus on their careers at a young age than Millennials have been: a 2016 Annie E. Casey Foundation study revealed that Gen Z had 40% lower rates of teenage pregnancy, 38% lower drug and alcohol abuse, and 28% higher graduation rate from high school, than Millennials.
Gen Z cares much more about prices and getting deals than Millennials, mostly because they came of age during the recession of 2008. Sixty-seven percent of Gen Zs said they would go to a website to obtain a coupon for a deal, whereas only 46% of Millennials would due the same.5 A large part of this price sensitivity gap is explained by the fact that Millennials were the sons and daughters of the richest generation in American history, while Gen Zs watched their parents get laid off, lose stock & real estate value, and suffer overall economic hardship.
Specifically, Gen Z would love to see both digital and virtual reality instruments used throughout the recruiting process. Companies will find the need to alter their recruiting from in-person interviewing to online messaging and platforms that are tailored to this generation. This includes texts, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube so they can use their phones.
Gen Z lives in a world of continuous update and information downloads. In addition, Gen Z processes these updates and information faster than other generations, largely due to apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine. Thus, organizations need to deliberately channel and challenge them to the task at hand.
Although Gen Z can be less focused than their Millennials peers, they are highly individual and self-starters, creating work on their computer, while doing related work or research on their phone or tablet, at the same time making notes on a notepad, and then completing the work on their tablet while FaceTiming a friend. With many consistent and continual distractions, they are very efficient at handling work and play, often at the same time.
Now that is multi-tasking!
Employers should consider how this trait could redesign how work is performed in their organization and its effect on culture.
In fact, according to the U.S. Census bureau, almost half of Gen Z identify themselves as Non-Caucasian. Thus, companies will need to fortify and re-examine their messaging and commitment to diversity & inclusion. If they don’t, they will never be able to attract, engage, and retain Gen Z workers.
As more of the world comes online, Gen Z has and will become more global in their thinking. In fact, 58% of adults worldwide above the age of 35 believe that Gen Zs have more in common with their global peers than adults in their own country.6
Smart and forward-thinking organizations will adapt and find new ways to attract, engage, and retain this wonderful new generation of workers and reap the myriad benefits of doing so, not the least of which is higher profitability.
Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For six years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017 & 2018.
Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.
Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.