They’re the next big wave of workers, so pay attention.
Make no mistake about it, Generation Z is going to shake things up when they enter the workforce, which is already happening. These young adults, born after 1996 (the oldest are now 22), are already distinguishing themselves from the millennial generation that came before them.
According to Denise Villa, Ph.D., CEO of the Center for Generational Kinetics, Gen Z is the fastest growing generation in the workplace and marketplace. They will rapidly outnumber millennials and boomers according to a monster.com survey. Like millennials, they have their own motivations, preferences and ways of doing things.
To attract, grow and retain Gen Zers, take these seven steps.
Provide training in communication. In The Center for Generational Kinetics National Survey, 57 percent of Gen Zers surveyed identified communication as one of the top skills they’d need to succeed — and 45 percent said they thought they needed improvement in that area. This is, after all, a group that grew up communicating through emoticons. “This presents a clear area where employers, parents and educators can help Gen Z become more confident and successful in the workforce through training and preparation,” noted Villa in the survey results.
Leverage their comfort with technology. Gen Zers grew up with smartphones, tablets and the internet. Facebook existed by the time the oldest were 8, and YouTube a year later. Those who are graduating from construction management programs are likely more educated on certain technologies than some of your long-term employees. You can use their comfort with technology to your advantage by inviting them to participate in the tech aspects of projects. This allows you to observe how they work and gives them a sense of value in what they’re doing. You might be surprised by how fast their skills contribute to your business and bottom line.
Emphasize the greater good. “Gen Z wants a job that lets them do what they love more than any other generation,” according to Villa. “They want to work hard at a job or company they are passionate about, so they can make a difference in the world,” she added. As you manage this group, consider focusing on personal value rather than financial value.
Offer frequent feedback. The Gen Z workforce wants very frequent feedback from their managers. “In our national Gen Z study, we discovered that 60 percent want multiple check-ins from their managers during the week, and many actually want to interact with their boss several times each day,” said Villa. “Now, that doesn’t mean they want lengthy feedback on their performance. They just want to know that their managers see them and appreciate their effort,” she said. A two-minute daily check-in could be all they need.
Provide ample training, especially in visual form. Villa said Gen Zers are hungry for professional development opportunities and welcome training. That said, Villa added, “Any training you do needs to fit in with how they like to learn.” In other words, use technology to deliver information. “When it comes to training, Gen Z really likes short videos — think YouTube videos,” said Villa. According to the Monster survey, “To reach Gen Z, communication should be direct, visual and without frills or unnecessary details. It may consist of emojis, pictures, symbols and video.”
Think outside normal working hours. In the Monster survey, 58 percent of Gen Zers surveyed said they are willing to work nights and weekends. As you bring Gen Z employees into the company, take into consideration their willingness to see beyond the traditional work day.
Offer a competitive salary and a matching 401(k). While Gen Zers aren’t driven solely by money — the majority want to their work to have a greater purpose — money is very important. In fact, the Monster survey found that Gen Zers are more motivated by money than millennials. According to Generational Kinetics survey, they are already thinking about their retirement. More than a third plan to start saving for retirement in their 20s, compared to 12 percent of millennials, and 12 percent are already doing so (again, outpacing millennials).
As Generation Z leaves school and enters the job market, they will need your guidance, support and leadership in order to grow and thrive on the job. With ample training, regular feedback and the chance to shine in the technology arena, this generation will help take your company to new places.
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer specializing in business, health, wellness and education.