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Gen Z: Are you ready for the new generation?

24 days ago by Daniel Stargatt
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There has been a lot of talk about the millennial generation, a generation that champions collaborative working, technological innovation and strives for work/life balance. But how much do you know about the new kids on the block… Gen Z?

If you haven’t looked into this generation or even heard the term Gen Z, the birth years of this generation fall between 1995-2015 meaning the leading edge of this generation are already in the workplace. So now really is the time to do your research, gain an understanding of what you offer as a business and adapt to ensure you offer an attractive proposition as an employer.

Given that we are talking about a whole generation, there really is quite a lot to discuss. So in this article we wanted to focus on the key traits of an average Gen Z person, to help give you an idea of typical trends and behaviours that could impact your business if you don’t adapt.

Communication

This generation have grown up in a time where technology is so advanced and they can pretty much do everything they need on their phones. From shopping, streaming shows, consuming news and keeping in touch with their friends. An interesting stat from a recent survey by The Centre for Generational Kinetics showed that 95% of Gen Z has a smart phone; 55% of Gen Z use their smartphones 5 or more hours a day and 26% use their phones 10 or more hours a day… wow!!

With this in mind it’s no surprise that technology has negatively impacted the ability to communicate and form strong interpersonal relationships. On top of this it is thought that the increased use of technology has also contributed to a lack of problem solving and critical thinking skills… so what does that mean for you as a business?

Well, unfortunately you can’t change a generation, so you have to work with what you’ve got. It will be important for businesses to ensure they offer increased support and opportunities to help strengthen and develop these skills to ensure they don’t become a barrier for not only their progression but business success.

It’s also important to consider how you communicate as a business. Given that this generation has had information on tap from a very young age, will a quarterly or even a monthly business update and feedback session engage them? Just some food for thought.

Development

Possibly a knock on effect of the high exposure to technology from an early age, Gen Z prefer face to face interaction with managers and typically expect frequent coaching and feedback. With a generation being told if they are liked and accepted through a simple click of a button on social media it’s no surprise that this generation craves a more personal approach to feedback and the need for constant reassurance.

Early research highlights that tacit knowledge could be negatively impacted by the lack of communication skills, discussed above. This could mean on desk coaching is not as effective unless you are ready and able to offer more regular debriefing sessions to ensure that learning is sinking in.

Oh, and on top of this it is thought that the average Gen Z has a concentration span of 8 seconds… it may sound short but it’s only 4 seconds less than your average millennial. But it’s definitely something to consider when you are looking at your training and development programmes.

Teamwork

Unlike the millennials, this is a generation that grew up being told there are winners and losers, so it’s no surprise that team work is lower down on the list of priorities for this more competitive, go-getter generation.  A way you could look to help develop team work skills is by creating opportunities for them to work on side projects with fellow colleagues from the same team or even different teams… just an idea!

The side hustle

A generation that has grown up following influencers on social media and people making some serious money from hobbies, this generation are unsurprisingly far more entrepreneurial. A recent survey by Gen Z Guru showed that 72% wanted to start their own business. So with this in mind, expect the side hustle. If you don’t know, a side hustle is any type of employment undertaken in addition to one's full-time job, generally freelance or piecework in nature, providing a supplemental income. Hobbies are important to Gen Z, so it’s important for employers to support a healthy work/life balance which allows people to pursue their interests outside of work.

Career goals

Lastly, and possible most importantly is career goals. This generation grew up in a time of economic uncertainty and one of the biggest recessions in recent history. So it’s no surprise that job security, along with salary are primary employment goals for most of Gen Z.

On top of this, another big attraction is their need to know clear progression routes and how to achieve. So it will be absolutely crucial that businesses are completely open and transparent about what it is they will need to do to succeed and where they can go within the business.

We hope this helped shed some light on this new Generation. We will be writing some other articles discussing other areas to consider when employing Gen Z, so keep your eye out for them.

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