Be Prepared For The Rise Of Generation Z

Q: What do the Baby Boomers, Gen X’s, millennials, and Gen Z’s all have in common?

A: They are all active in the workforce, and are vying for jobs.

Appealing to all of these different generations is no easy task, which is why organizations must learn to create options (not barriers) to manage the multi-generational workforce.

To attract and retain employees from all of the different generations, you have to understand each generation. There’s been a lot of talk about Baby Boomers, Gen X’s, and millennials, but there hasn’t been much discussion yet about the latest generation to enter the workforce: Gen Z.

You need to understand who Gen Zs are, how they think, what they look for in a job, and how to accommodate for them, so that you can effectively recruit and retain them.

As we continue to unpack the characteristics of Gen Z, it’s helpful to know who they are. Gen Z consists of those who were born between 1996 and 2010. They are slowly, but surely entering the workforce, mostly at entry-level jobs.

Why Talk About Gen Z?

It’s predicted that by 2020, Gen Z will make up 2.56 billion of the population. Right now in the U.S., every one in five Americans is a member of Gen Z. In the coming years, they’ll be looking for high quality jobs, and your organization will need them.

Gen Z is not like any other generation before them. While they are often compared to millennials, they differ in many ways.  

Gen Z grew up in the digital age, so they haven’t experienced a life without the internet or smartphones. They are the most digital generation ever, which means that they expect your organization to be completely digital, too.

Knowing how Gen Z thinks and operates, and what they’re looking for in a job, can help your organization appeal to them as they infiltrate the workforce and apply for your open positions.

How do They Think and Operate?

They communicate digitally. Since Gen Z grew up in the digital world, their preferred communication method is also digital, through social media, texting, and applications. This means that organizations need to be actively engaging potential candidates on social media, and have a strong brand presence on all social media platforms. It also requires organizations to offer several ways for employees to interact, not just face-to-face interactions.

They’re problem solvers.Like the millennials before them, Gen Z likes to solve things on their own. Because they’re so familiar with technology, when something goes wrong, they try everything they can to fix it. This is an appealing trait, and shows that they’re independent and capable of solving complex issues on their own. However, they may not always follow standard protocols or utilize your help desk services.

They're hard workers. Unlike the millennials who wanted a good work-life balance, 58 percent of Gen Zs said they are glad to work abnormal hours, such as nights and weekends. On top of that, they also have an entrepreneurial spirit, as 17 percent said they want to start their own business. Starting a business takes a lot of time and effort, and Gen Z have the dedication and the work ethic to work hard for what they want.

They’re willing to relocate. According to Small Business Trends, 74 percent of Gen Zs are willing to relocate for a job. This bodes well for organizations trying to recruit talent out of state. However, it also reveals that Gen Zs aren’t as attached to where they live or where they currently are.

What do They Want in a Job?

Enabling Gen Zs to succeed at work starts with offering what they want and need. To do this, you have to know what they look for in a job and what they want out of their career. Let’s take a look at the following areas.

They want quality health benefits. Health insurance is Gen Z’s top reason when it comes to choosing a job, even over salary and a qualified boss. In today’s world where health insurance can be expensive and uncertain, it makes sense that Gen Zs would seek this traditional benefit over everything else.

They are driven by money. While making a difference in the world with their work is still an important factor for Gen Zs, the second-most important contributor to choosing a job is salary. Gen Zs realize the need for money and a good salary, and choose jobs based on who offers them the most money.

They want to make an impact. Gen Zs want to work somewhere they can make a difference and contribute to the greater good. Monster reports that 74 percent believe their jobs should have more meaning than just making money. Make sure that your organization has a clear vision that impacts the world and clearly shows how employees can contribute to the overall goal.

They want growth, change, and promotions. Gen Zs are used to change, and are able to adapt quickly. They expect their workplace to evolve regularly, and aren’t bothered by sudden changes in locations or responsibilities. They also have clear goals of what they want their career to be, and want the opportunity to grow and advance quickly. Showing Gen Z employees a clear path for advancement is a good way to keep them engaged and motivated.

They want technology. Since they were raised in the digital world, they want to use technology at work. Monster reveals 57 percent of Gen Zs think technology makes them more productive, and 45 percent believe it makes them mobile. Additionally, 39 percent think smartphones are necessary. This reliance on technology proves that business mobility and cloud applications aren’t going anywhere, and will be relied on even more in the future.

They seek a two-way relationship with their manager. Like millennials, Gen Zs need constant feedback and interaction with their boss. They want their managers to be honest and transparent, and they prefer regular meetings over annual reviews.

They want transparency and equality. Gen Zs are bold, and they stand for what they believe in. What they believe in is equality, and if people aren’t being treated equally, then they will fight against it. This socially aware generation doesn’t sweep anything under the rug, and will stand for what they think is right at work. To appeal to this aspect, work on building a strong culture that promotes good values and ethical behavior.

They want companies with a strong brand. Before they go into an interview, it’s pretty much a given that a Gen Z candidate will look up your organization on Google and social media. They’re looking for organizations that have a strong brand presence that is consistent across all platforms, and clearly states who they are and what they do.

These seven areas give an overview of what Gen Zs want out of a job and a career, and show they are uniquely different than any other generation so far.

How can you Prepare For Gen Z?

This understanding of what Gen Zs want in a job can benefit your organization’s recruiting and retention strategies, which can happen in a number of ways as you seek to prepare for Gen Zs in the workplace.

  1. Work on implementing high quality benefits that give employees a wide variety of reliable and affordable health options. Additionally, you should also ensure that you’re offering competitive salaries. Both of these areas will increase your attractiveness to Gen Zs and top talent across other generations, as well.
  2. Offer development courses and skills training, to allow Gen Zs to continue to improve themselves and stay engaged in your organization. Engagement can also be improved by promoting internally, communicating, and providing that clear career path. It should be easy and clear how an employee can sign up for courses, what courses he/she should take, and the expectations for promotion and career development.
  3. Fostering a culture of collaboration and two-way relationships can also lead to engaged and satisfied Gen Zs. Have managers meet on a weekly basis with their employees, so they can develop trust and respect, and allow for a consistent flow of feedback.
  4. To satisfy the Gen Zs need for technology, install and implement business mobility technologies that allow employees to work remotely and access email and other functions on their smart phones or tablets. Deploy technology platforms to onboard them, monitor their benefits, and allow them access to perks offered by the organization.
  5. When it comes to your brand, ensure that you have a consistent message and are regularly posting quality content on your website and social media channels. Since Gen Zs are so digital, it can also be beneficial to reach them through online video ads that showcase your organization and open positions.

Don't Sleep on Gen Z

With this solid understanding of who Gen Zs are, what they need in a job, and how you can prepare for them, adopting a strategy that includes these things will lead to your organization being able to effectively attract promising Gen Zs and keep them engaged. They may not be applying for your open positions right now, but it takes time to change your organization’s culture and processes. As an organization, you can prepare for Gen Z now, so that you stand out when they hit the job market.

However, it’s not just Gen Z that you have to try and attract and retain. With so many generations in the workforce, it can be difficult to appeal to all of them at once. To help with this, create more options, not barriers and restrictions. Allow multiple ways of working to accommodate everyone, so that you can improve your chances of attracting top talent in every generation.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to remember that everyone is different. Not every Gen Z person fits into these characteristics, so don’t assume that everyone is the same. It’s best to have an open mind about these things, and know that some won’t follow these trends.

What can your organization do to get ready for Gen Z?


Katie Roth

Katie Roth has been in a leadership role in the employment industry for the majority of her career. Currently, she is Manager, Talent Acquisition for Oasis, a Paychex® Company. Katie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is certified by both the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), as a Senior Professional in Human Resources, and the National Association of Personnel Services, as a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC).


June 12, 2017

Posted by

Katie Roth