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Elle Heeley

Gen Z is entering the workforce right now. Here, Elle Heeley, a Consultant within our Procurement team explains what motivates Gen Z and how employers can prepare for the influx in order to benefit from this fresh crop of talent and the new skills they can bring to the table.

We hear a lot about millennials. Known for their dedication to environmentalist and feminist causes, they are commonly labelled tech addicts and team players by employers. However, fewer people seem to be talking about Gen Z, the generation born between 1995 and 2010 which is pushing up through the ranks and entering employment both now and over the course of the next few years.

With Gen Z already forming at least 20% of the workforce, it is important that employers understand the quirks of this generation and the ways in which it differs from the previous one. Here, we summarise some of the key characteristics of Gen Z, outlining how they may affect their behaviour at work and the steps that employers can take to optimise their input and troubleshoot any potential issues which could potentially lower productivity.

  1. Gen Z is tech-savvy

Just like their millennial counterparts, Gen Z-ers are digital natives. They grew up alongside Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and know how to speak the language of social media. To appeal to Gen Z employees, businesses should ensure that their social media presence is vibrant, regularly populated and attractive.

So too can companies utilise Gen Z employees to better their social media and digital strategies if they feel as though more senior workers do not have the expertise to optimise them.

While all of this also applies to millennials, there is a fundamental difference between the social media use of the two generations, such as the platforms that they choose to use. Typically, millennials might gravitate towards Facebook and YouTube while Gen Z-ers tend to prefer Instagram and Snapchat. So, when deciding which employees to consult about their social media, businesses should consider which platforms best suit their target audience and client bases.

  1. Gen Z is not impulsive

One consequence of growing up in a digital world is that Gen Z-ers are far more used to shopping online than in a store. This may appear irrelevant to their behaviour in the workplace but actually, it hugely impacts the way that Gen Z employees make decisions, both in a personal and professional sense.

Gen Z-ers have become accustomed to reading hundreds of reviews or researching online before buying something. This translates to the fact that they do not act upon impulse. Gen Z-ers are inherently analytical, calculating the risk, worth and potential consequences of decisions before making them. As decision making is a key responsibility for senior employees in most businesses, this analytical mind-set is an asset of Gen Z employees which should not be ignored.

  1. Gen Z is risk averse

Having grown up in a time of great financial instability following the 2008 recession, Gen Z-ers tend to be risk averse, and this reflects in their career goals and priorities.

According to one survey of 1,000 Gen Z-ers, the top career goal of this generation is stability and security. In fact, 69% of Gen Z would rather have a stable job than one that they were truly passionate about. This means that their priorities do not align with those of millennials, who tend to be motivated to work according to the causes which they believe in. When working with Gen Z-ers, employers should highlight the ways that they provide job security to their employees, alongside their CSR and D&I policies.

This is particularly true for the members of Gen Z who will be entering the job market this year or next. For these Gen Z-ers, the market instability generated by the COVID-19 pandemic will serve as proof of the importance of stability during such an uncertain period. Employers should therefore take steps to alleviate any concerns by highlighting their support around working from home, office health and safety, onboarding and training.

  1. Gen Z thinks about the long-term outcome

Related to the previous point is the fact that Gen Z-ers do not look for “quick fixes” in terms of their employment.  In fact, 93% of Gen Z stated that they would prefer a job which opens doors above one with a higher salary attached.

They think in the long-term rather than of the short-term benefits. So, employers trying to appeal to Gen Z should emphasise the opportunities for promotions and upskilling that their company provides.

That said, though, this doesn’t mean that Gen Z doesn’t appreciate short-term perks. “Flexible hours, company discounts and free food all feature among the most common phrases used by Gen Z in Glassdoor reviews. Employers therefore shouldn’t neglect to provide a positive working environment for employees, as well as informing them of the long-term benefits that their role brings.

  1. Gen Z is competitive

It is well known that millennials are team players, but this attitude doesn’t apply to Gen Z-ers. Probably due to growing up in a recession where jobs and opportunities were scarce, members of Gen Z are typically highly competitive in their careers.

This is reflected in the way that they try from an early age to jumpstart their careers through side projects and internships, with 60% of current students in the US having interned at least once during their time at university.

Just like millennials, Gen Z-ers often want regular feedback from employers, reassuring them that they are excelling in their role and suggesting ways in which they could improve their performance in order to advance their career pathway.

If you are looking to hire members of Gen Z and would like to know more about how to optimise the recruitment process and/or ways to subsequently increase employee engagement, please get in touch with our experienced consultants: info@merje.com