Generations are often grouped as a result of certain defining criteria. Generation Z, or the otherwise termed iGen, represent a group of people currently entering the workforce, succeeding the millennials. This new generation is characterized by its aggressive competitiveness and independence, among many other traits employers need to be aware of.
This generation has been shaped by a different set of events, and unlike the millennials before them, were largely raised during the global recession and subsequent recovery. This impacts directly on their attitude towards employment and the importance thereof. Research reveals that salary, as opposed to job meaningfulness, is the primary influence on Gen-Z choosing employers.
Keeping this in mind, employers need to learn to be sensitive to the motivating factors and entrepreneurial spirit within this population.
Born between 1995 and 2012, this peer group is presently graduating and entering work environments, and with this come the challenges and cross-generational dynamics that need to be dealt with. There are over 23 million Gen-Z workers in the marketplace, and it is predicted that in the next five years this number is going to proliferate relatively sharply.
Early indications are that Gen-Z is an increasingly self-aware, self-sufficient, inventive, and goal-focused population. This has implications for the job sector and how this generation is received and managed.
They are particularly more entrepreneurial than their older counterparts, exhibiting more corporate bravery and risk-taking in their engagement with the capitalist ecosystem. The challenge here is that businesses need to work harder to convince the new graduates to join them by nurturing a spirit of entrepreneurialism within organizations.
A key difference between this generation and millennials is that their world has always contained social media and they tend to use these platforms predominantly to showcase and live their lives. Competition in the corporate world has necessitated that Gen-Z members are better educated and have the ability to research and self-educate while leveraging the technological tools at their disposal.
In order for these contemporaries to be successful in the workplace, the generation before them needs to take their traits into account. For example, a survey discovered that Gen-Z members expect to start at the bottom and work their way up the corporate ladder, and are less open to collaboration—they are more independent in their commitments.
While this competitiveness and focused attitude is an asset to the marketplace, it can also be a disadvantage. High productivity and efficiencies counterbalance the internal conflict resolution needs that will have to be met by the higher ups.
Employers need to relax rigid conventions of the past, as this generation views the strict nine-to-five mentality as outdated. All about balancing work and play, they appreciate flexibility in the workplace and tend to perform better if given limited autonomy and self-management responsibilities.
The onus is on businesses to provide flexible succession plans and tailored job descriptions to ensure employee retention in the current paradigm. This also has implications for training and development. Standardized block training doesn’t seem to cut the mustard with the Gen-Z’s. A better approach would be to get new recruits working and provide on-the-job training when required.
The members of Gen-Z have been raised in the digital age and use technology as a logical extension of themselves, blurring the lines between the physical and digital domain. Thus, their intended marketplace needs to be tech forward to draw the necessary talent.