Gen Z has officially entered the workforce. What can employers expect and how should they prepare for “Gen Z” employees entering their businesses?
In order to determine how to prepare, let’s start by discussing the characteristics of “Gen Z.”
With every new generation, employers are presented with obstacles and challenges to adjust to a new work environment and culture. We adapted to the generations of “Baby Boomers”, “Gen X,” “Gen Y” and “Millennials”, but now it’s time to switch gears to prepare for the future of our next generation – “Gen Z.”
Gen Z individuals are defined as anyone born from the mid-1990’s to early 2000’s. They are the future of the world and are paving the way for our next generations to come. Their idea of social standards has greatly shifted from the standards of past generations. They are technologically savvy and social media driven, they are creators, innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders, they have strong opinions and voices and want to be heard.
Below are some of the top 5 characteristics of our new “Gen Z” individuals:
- Accepting/Diverse – They are very accepting and understanding to others who may be different from themselves, which has further cleared the path to acceptance of lifestyles and choices that were previously considered taboo and consequently suffered disparate treatment or discrimination.
- Technology/Social Media Driven – Gen Z has grown up in a world filled with technologically advanced systems, pop-culture and social media. They are extremely advanced with technology and interact regularly through various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and more.
- Creators/Innovators/Entrepreneurs/Leaders – We are seeing more and more innovators and entrepreneurs creating and starting basic ideas and turning them into multi-million/billion-dollar businesses. They are turning their “hobbies” and “likes” into thriving businesses.
- Transparent/Vocal – Gen Z doesn’t shy away from voicing their opinions on matters. They speak up to protect themselves and others and they stand up for what they believe is important. Gen Z are activists and prepared to “save the world.”
- Flexible – Gen Z is looking for flexibility in their life and work schedules. They like the freedom to accomplish tasks on their own time.
Now we know who “Gen Z” is, let’s discuss how they will affect the workforce.
As Gen Z begins to flood our workforce, employers need to prepare for a change in their work culture. As discussed above, Gen Z individuals have a different perspective on life and work. Let’s compare their characteristics with business needs to see how employers need to start preparing.
- Accepting/Diverse – Since Gen Z individuals are very accepting and understanding to people’s differences, they are looking to work in an environment that is also accepting and understanding to their employees. To ensure Gen Z employees feel they and others are accepted in the workplace, employers should consider developing, implementing and enforcing one or all the following policies within their business:
- Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policy which states all business decisions are made based on employee performance, not on a protected class status, such as sex, age, race, religion, etc.
- Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy which states that the company has a zero tolerance for any form of discrimination – all workplace relationships will be cooperative, business-like and free of bias, prejudice and harassment.
- Diversity policy which states that the company is committed to a diverse workplace and will not tolerate any action or expression of hatred, bigotry, prejudice or behaviors that infringe upon the freedom and respect of others.
- Technology/Social Media Driven – Gen Z individuals were born with access to the internet, computers and mobile devices. Employers should use this to their advantage. The internet and social media have paved the way for businesses to market, advertise and promote their products and services. Gen Z individuals are experts and extremely savvy with technology and can maneuver through websites and social media with their eyes closed and hands tied behind their back. Employers should think of useful ways to incorporate the use of technology and social media into the job responsibilities of Gen Z employees.
- Creators/Innovators/Entrepreneurs/Leaders – Gen Z individuals are very creative and are innovators; therefore, employers should recognize that Gen Z will enter the workforce with new and more innovative ways to perform work and provide services. Employers must be open to new ideas and allow the discussion of trying a new approach which may be completely different to how work was performed in the past. Again, this could be an advantage to many employers.
- Transparent/Vocal – As mentioned, Gen Z are activists, they want their voices to be heard and action to be taken when necessary. Employers should ensure Gen Z employees feel comfortable discussing their ideas and opinions and immediately take action on any areas of concern. Employers should consider developing and implementing a Problem Resolution and Open-Door Policy for employees to communicate concerns without fear of retaliation.
- Flexible – Gen Z employees enjoy the flexibility to work remotely for part or all of the workweek and/or to have a flexible work schedule; therefore, employers should start looking into how remote work and/or flex hours can be beneficial to their business culture.
Once you’re prepared for them, how do you retain them?
We have identified the characteristics of Gen Z individuals, we’ve identified what employers can do to prepare for Gen Z to enter their business, but now we have to figure out how to retain them
- Allow flexibility in work schedules.
- Redefine job responsibilities to allow them more freedom to be creative in their roles.
- Acknowledge their work and accomplishments – provide positive and negative feedback regularly.
- Provide opportunities for employees to participate in company sponsored events that promote diversity and inclusion.
- Allow productive and responsive two-way communication.
- Provide incentives for new ideas.
- Show them they are appreciated.
In summary, “Gen Z” employees are heading into your business. They will provide new and innovative ways to accomplish tasks. They will require a new way of thinking by instilling inclusivity and equality. They will be a voice to your business, who will market and promote your products and services. As we are gear up for the next generation wave, know that millennials have done an outstanding job to help set the ground work for Gen Z. Gen Z will only improve on what the millennials have taught them.
If you are interested in getting information about any of the above referenced company policies, please contact us at www.inspiringhr.com.