It took several years, but by now most organizations feel like they finally understand Millennial employees – for the most part. When this demographic first burst onto the professional landscape, older Gen X and Baby Boomer employees were somewhat baffled. This was a generation that used social media for everything, including managing their finances and dating, and they also didn’t seem to care much about carving out stability for themselves. Unlike older generations, Millennials entered the workforce searching for meaning and fulfillment out of their careers, and if they didn’t find it, they simply moved on. They yearned for more flexible working arrangements as a means of pursuing their passions outside of the office. They quickly and, arguably, unfairly earned the labels of “social-media obsessed narcissists.” But as they’ve matured, and older generations have learned how to work with, rather than against them, the rhetoric around Millennial employees has calmed. Now, however, organizations have a new generation to consider: Gen Z. Gen Z-ers were born between 1996 and 2010, which means the oldest members of this age groups are graduating and entering the working the world. Employers were somewhat blindsided by the arrival of Millennials and it took many companies a few years to adapt. In an effort to learn from those lessons of the past, here are a few ways to prepare your workplace for the integration of Gen Z-ers.
They want on and offline connection
Even more so than Millennials, Gen Z-ers are digital natives. They’ve been using smartphones for most of their lives and rely on social media to share and communicate on a daily basis. As a generation they are typically social media trendsetters; they experiment with new platforms and features before older consumers and operate all things digital with a sense of comfort and openness. But just because they are proficient at using mobile devices, it does not mean that they are only seeking virtual, screen-to-screen workplace experiences. Perhaps because they came of age with social media, this generation also values face-to-face connection. They crave one-on-one time with mentors and bosses and want to work for managers who are open to comments and questions.
To help prepare Gen Z-ers for success in the workplace, it’s important for managers and HR departments to create on and offline employee support experiences. The SAP Success Factors platform enables team leaders to implement goal-setting benchmarks and ongoing performance reviews in one, centralized location. Because of their comfortability with digital platforms, Gen Z-ers will have no problem maintaining digital records of goals and achievements. But to really connect with these young employees, team leader must also supplement online programs with regular in-person check-ins and engaging onboarding content that resonate with Gen Zers.
They want to make an impact
Gen Z is an age group deeply in tune with the social issues plaguing the world today. Although liberal activism is a quality often associated with college students, even more so than their predecessors, Gen Z-ers want to make a difference. They care about how the brands they engage with and buy from drive positive social change; if they sense that a company is not transparent or lacks social awareness, they’ll turn their backs. The deep-seeded desire to want to build a community extends into what this generation is looking for in a workplace culture. Just as they are rallying on their campuses for social justice and equality, they want their employers to stand for something and to consider programs that will benefit more than just the bottom line.
They’re ready to work hard
While Millennials often received the label of “lazy” early on in their professional tenures, Gen Z is shaping up to be anything but. Having watched their parents struggle through a recession and sluggish economy during their childhoods, Gen Z-ers are eager and willing to work for their success. They don’t want to be given opportunities or promotions, they want to earn them. Similarly, they are less enticed by superfluous workplace perks like ping-pong tables and open bars. They’d rather their employers offer them comprehensive health and retirement benefits to set them on a clear path to independence and financial stability.
With acute digital skills, global insights, and already impressive work ethics, Gen Z-ers are poised to initiate progress across every office they enter. But for them to truly experience success employers have to meet them halfway. Creating open communication policies, offering comprehensive benefits, and creating social responsibility programs, will help both employers and young employees thrive in the coming years.