If you're planning on employing Generation Z, the unofficial name for the generation now flooding the workplace, you might want to consider them as Generation E. This population born after 1997 and until 2010 is especially entrepreneurial in nature.
"Generation Z was born into technology," says Maria Bailey author of Millennial Moms, and a soon-to-be-released book on Generation Z.
"When employing Generation Z, it's important to consider that many of these young people have built their own social media brands as teenagers and learned to make money with social media or other technology platforms," says Bailey.
Entrepreneurial Mindset at Work
"Employers are about to be faced with a population of employees that has more work experience than Millennials or Gen Xers," says Susan Fierro, head of people and culture success at Evisions, which creates higher education software solutions.
—Alexander Lowry, professor of finance, Gordon College
"When employing Generation Z members, don't be surprised if they have their own side gigs," says Fierro. "They're a multi-talented, fast-paced generation ready to dive into work. They can process information quickly, are self-aware and have high standards due to the many options they have."
Members of Generation Z aren't your typical 9-to-5 employees, agrees Robert McGuire, publisher of Nation1099, which provides career advice.
"This generation is much more likely to be interested in freelancing and working independently," McGuire says.
Expecting a Higher Purpose at Work
Members of Generation Z may seek more from work than previous generations.
“To attract Gen Z as employees, work has to serve a higher purpose," believes Ashira Prossack, who specializes in advising companies on Millennial and Generation Z engagement in the workplace.
“This latest generation is the most purpose driven to date. Members want to make a difference in the world," says Prossack. “Social impact is as important as salary to them. Corporate social responsibility programs must be in place to show Gen Z that your company is truly dedicated to giving back."
"Gen Z members want their work to have meaning, so having a mission-driven purpose as a company is a definite plus when employing Generation Z," agrees Shakira Brown, CEO of SMB Strategic Media and founder and CEO of The Functional Entrepreneur, which offers entrepreneurs business advice.
Whatever cause your company backs, you must offer solid proof, adds Jeff Fromm, president of FutureCast, a marketing communications company, and co-author of Marketing to Gen Z.
“For instance, if your company claims to champion equality, and you don't hire women for executive positions, members of Generation Z will see right through that and consider your company leadership disingenuous," he says.
Work-Life Balance Expectations
Due to their entrepreneurial pursuits, members of Generation Z also expect work-life balance to be "woven into the fabric of your organization," says Brown.
"Flexible hours, lifestyle accommodations and freedom to do whatever they like on their off time are all on their employment checklist," she says.
They'll likely want to leave at 5 p.m. and resist working overtime in order to pursue their own side jobs.
"Gen Zers prefer a more balanced life that includes reasonable working hours, with occasional bouts of overtime, and weekends off," agrees Alexander Lowry, a professor of finance at Gordon College. "If they do work overtime, it may be in an unstructured setting, like a coffee shop, so it's best to focus on results with this group, not on how they get things done."
Bringing Gen Z Employees to Your Team
If you decide to employ members of Generation Z, help ensure success for everyone by keeping in mind the following preferences of this younger group of workers.
1. They are focused on teamwork and community.
Generation Z employees work best in an environment that encourages open collaboration, believes Lowry.
"Company owners will do well to take advantage of Gen Zers preference for teamwork, which can encourage more solidarity throughout the workplace," he says.
In fact, Generation Zers tend to flock to real-time chat tools that allow for frequent collaboration, says Amanda Bell, director of recruiting at recruiting software company Lever.
"For instance," she says, "we've created specific channels in Slack, which has increased communication between team members. We have a diversity and inclusion channel and a personal growth channel. These tactics help us with attracting and employing Generation Z."
"Gen Z employees don't want to sit in a cubicle and work in isolation," agrees Prossack. "They want to be able to pop into a chatroom and run an idea by a colleague. They also want a community space within the office where they can go to connect. Since they often interact via devices with their friends, face-to-face communication is a welcome change to them."
2. They are seeking freedom to experiment.
Lynn Perkins is CEO and co-founder of the childcare company and mobile app UrbanSitter. She notes from her experience employing Generation Z members that they do best when you allow them room to experiment.
"Give Generation Z employees problems to solve and let them come up with their own possible solutions," she advises. "Offer coaching and sound advice when needed, but let them have room for trial and error."
3. They are interested in receiving feedback.
After you've succeeded in employing Generation Z members, providing feedback is vital, notes Prossack.
“Generation Z employees are hungry to know how they're doing and to get the acknowledgment that their work is being recognized," he says.
"Gen Zers seek validation and approval and so will appreciate increased responsibility and additional training opportunities," he says. "Offer them special assignments outside of their job descriptions, such as heading up a task force or establishing a regular presence on social networking sites for the company."
4. They are also interested in giving feedback.
"Generation Z employees equally appreciate giving feedback, which stems from growing up in a world of likes, comments and ratings," says Prossack. “Being able to share their ideas and thoughts helps them feel connected to the work and workplace. Along those lines, they also like to have open access to managers and leaders."
5. They are able to learn best when they observe.
“Show this generation of employees how to do their work; don't tell them," advises Prossack. “This goes for everything from how to recruit and attract them to how to keep them engaged once you've succeeded in employing Generation Z. Video is a must for recruiting, hiring and training."
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