One of the primary shifts in the industry is the nature of the workforce that is now beginning to enter into organizations. Most company owners have read extensive articles and blogs about millennials and their needs and desires which were starkly different than the generation before it. This was a key step in planning as time has gone by, there is another generation of workers who are about to begin their careers as well, whose needs, goals and desires have all evolved or adapted from those of the generation before it. Now, the last wave of millennials will be finishing their college soon and a more complex generation is upcoming and organizations must prepare for it. Generation Z (or, often called Gen Z) refers to that demographic of people that were born in between 1996-2010. The oldest of these individuals are usually now in their final year of college, and are forming a wish list about their ideal first job after college and according to research, their desires are vastly different from their predecessors and have their own stark characteristics that set them apart.
- Tech knowledge - They are the first generation to have technology be a major part of their lives and upbringing, and have likely been around computers and smartphones for a long time, and are used to operating on them. As a result, operating on these interfaces often comes as second nature to them. It displays their ability to easily adapt to new changes and introductions to technology as they have witnessed, technological changes and trends that were huge leaps in their own short lifetimes.
- Privacy- Platforms like Facebook and Twitter were quickly occupied by millennials and many of these people did not care much for what was posted, and most often did so without major repercussions. The process of learning that being under constant public scrutiny and the ease of access with which your public image could be brought up and picked at was a gradual one, and members of Gen Z seem to have inherited this desire for digital privacy. They use private messaging apps that are highly secure, even platforms that publish content that is temporary in nature and can be restricted to your immediate contacts like Kik, SnapChat, etc. These applications are well-established now- a testament to their popularity among Gen Z, but they are yet growing and other applications like it are beginning to appear as well. This desire for digital privacy is a natural reaction to the changing landscape of the internet of things, and the myriad of ways we must maintain cyber security to preserve sensitive information. This is a highly valued trait at many companies and Gen Z is the first generation to fully understand its importance in a professional sphere.
- Independence- The global economy is more interconnected and stable now than it was a mere 30 years ago, and that has allowed many individuals to find their own way through life, with a desire to live it on their own terms and work towards their own goals. This ability to cut loose faster and achieve independence is almost a direct result of the changed financial stability of the world. These workers do not enjoy taking instructions from their parents, or wait around to be taught new things- Gen Z displays a desire to work and learn by themselves.
- Diversity- This upcoming workforce promises to be one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse people, from all spheres of life. Modernization and globalization have played a huge part in this- the intermingling of demographics is to be expected and, as a result, we will see an increasingly diverse range of workers, with their own values and beliefs. It is core in understanding the type of person who would fit into an organization, and this diversity promises a wider range of employees that are accustomed to a more accepting and respectful environment than that of their predecessors.
- Financial Security- One of the most outstanding features in the demographic of Gen Z is their increasing tendency to put both job security and money high on their priority list- higher than that of their predecessors. While striving to make a difference in the world is hugely important, they believe that surviving and thriving is even more important. This directly contrasts the desires of millennials, who sought purpose and a great work-life balance more than anything else.
- Connectivity- Gen Z is the first “digitally native” generation. That is, they are accustomed to staying connected with one another across different platforms in a manner that betrays its normalcy. Most of these individuals stay connected with one another throughout the day and most give a total of ten hours a day communicating across various digital platforms and more than a fifth of Gen Z experiences intense withdrawal symptoms if kept away from their devices which link them to their platforms.
- Fast Pace- Gen Z is accustomed to not being complacent and are driven workers. According to surveys, many are comfortable retaining multiple positions at the workplace despite the increased workload and promise to deliver results at competitive speeds. They are confident in their ability to work and grow at their workplace.
This shows us that, like millennials before them, they will be arriving and seeking employment in large numbers within a mere five years, and it is vital that we understand their desires, needs and motivations to maintain and adapt your business to this changing environment. Gen Z will be bringing an entirely different set of qualities, needs and wants to the table, and executives must begin preparing for Generation Z as they look to continue their company’s growth in the years to come.