Youth are an important element of any business model. And since the workplace is rapidly changing, becoming an increasingly flexible and digitally disrupted sphere, the youth are already educating their elders about how things are to be done. Young people are getting so far ahead when it comes to digital communication that we really need to stop and listen to them. So let’s talk about Generation Z.
Gen Z were born between the late 90s and 2010, and while they technically crossover with the Millennial bracket, they’re really a whole different kettle of fish, and should be treated as such. Here are some top tips to working with Gen Z – advice designed to help both parties get their expectations aligned.
A hefty pay cheque just won’t cut it
“Money would motivate them to work harder and stay with their employer longer.” Want to guess what percentage of Gen Z would agree with that statement? You might be surprised to hear that it’s only 28%. For Gen Y, the generation immediately before them, the figure is 42%. So if there’s one thing that we can deduce about Gen Z, it’s that they are far more interested in other workplace factors than money. But what do they want?
Workplace culture is hugely important
The line between work and leisure is becoming increasingly blurred. Gen Z have no problem carrying their phones with them at all times, and replying to work related correspondence via their social networks. This is great for an employer, because their employees are easily contactable at irregular times and often willing to work outside the constructs of 9 to 5. The trade off is that the workplace has to be an interesting, dynamic and social environment. Is there a fancy espresso machine? A ping pong table for break time games? A good stereo? Do the staff have a drink together on Friday arvo? Make your workplace great and Gen Z will be happy to spend time there and to be contacted after they leave.
Company Values Are Also Huge
Gen Z have grown up in a world that is proven to be facing extinction as a result of climate change. They’ve had the internet their whole lives, breaking down race and class divisions, and overloading them with facts about the world’s problems and injustices. They care deeply about giving back and doing something better for the world. Therefore, a company that has strong values and attempts to give back to their community is of much greater appeal than one that doesn’t. In a 2015 survey by Robert Half, one-third of Gen Z said they’d take a pay cut in order to work for a cause they deeply cared about. For examples, just look at TOMS footwear, ThankYou water and Who Gives A Crap toilet paper.
The here and now is what matters
Gen Z are interested in what’s happening here and now. The modern workplace has become so flexible and unregulated that few people expect to be there for the long, long term. But if the workplace is good for now, they won’t be inclined to leave. It’s important to emphasise the benefits of the near future regularly, rather than trying to motivate Gen Z with a distant plan down the track. They’ll be looking forward to the party at the end month, rather than the retirement package.
Personalised career paths are inspiring
Gen Z are used to having everything personalised just for them – from Spotify playlists to Facebook news feeds to Google search algorithms. They’ve even grown up getting little hearts drawn in the foam of their coffees. Career paths are no different and Gen Z are incredibly excitable when it comes to forging their own paths and doing things their own way. Flexibility is the name of the game. Play to their strengths and provide them with personalised options. Heck, tailor a new role just for them if you can; this will motivate and inspire them.
Face-to-face communication will never die
Just because they can text rapidly and they regularly communicate via four or five different social networks doesn’t mean they don’t value clear and simple communication. Arrange a face-to-face meeting, and if that’s not possible, Skype them, start a FaceTime convo or pick up the phone and ask about their day. Andy Decker, the senior president of staffing firm Robert Half, concluded that Gen Z actually crave human interaction. Perhaps this is because it hasn’t always been the default in their lives.
Complacency doesn’t cut it
Gen Z will never be satisfied with an answer like, “We do it this way because we’ve always done it this way and it’s too hard to change the system now.” They are efficiency experts and will always look for new ways to do things more quickly and effectively. There’s probably an app for that now, and they’ll show it to you and teach you how to use it. This is an invaluable attribute for an employee. All you need to do is relinquish the reigns and let them create more efficient processes. In a word, let them work to their full potential.