Generation Z is next up on the horizon, and they are primed and eager to enter the workforce. The exact ages that define this group are pretty hazy, and most likely will change depending on where you look or who you ask. For the purpose of this post, I’ve whittled it down to students who are graduating, fresh out of college or have 1-2 years experience. Gen Z is the future of your company. Therefore, you’re probably starting to wonder what this new group of young professionals is all about. More precisely, what you can expect from them when they enter the workforce. Here are 5 things to be ready for:
1. They are Tech- Savvy; They were Raised in the Digital Age.
Although Gen Z wasn’t born in the height of the digital age, they’ve still always been exposed to it. They are proficient in technology, and most have had cell phones and even smartphones since they were in middle school. Keystone Associates says, “Gen Z workers will be more flexible with tech communication styles/platforms. They will be more accustomed to communicating using different technology platforms. Therefore, employers will need to be flexible on how they communicate and not depend on one method to get their message across like email.” This can be a positive and negative characteristic. These young professionals may help to find new and innovative ways to grow your business and connect your employees through new forms of technology. However, working face-to-face with your co-workers is the best way to discuss and brainstorm new ideas. You will need to make sure they don’t box themselves into technology and still embrace communication in-person.
2. They are Apprehensive about the Economy; They want Job Stability
This generation grew up through the Great Recession, so they are no strangers to seeing the economy crash before their eyes. Although the economy has been on the rise, they are still apprehensive about the future. Many have seen their parents struggle financially. As a student in my final year of college, I am worried about the economy from experiences of my own. My dad had a great job for over 20 years. He loved it and was highly respected- until he was let go in 2009 while the economy was crashing. As a result, we lost our home and had to move around numerous times. I watched the strongest person in my life lose everything, and struggle to get on his feet again. Stories like these plague many of my friends poised to break into the workforce. In 2015, Adecco conducted a Way to Work survey which found that “Seventy percent of students would prefer a stable job without a high level of emotional investment or passion over a job with lots of passion but no job security,”. Gen Z cares about following their career passions, but make no mistake- job security is at the front lines.
3. They are Ready to LEARN and GROW
This generation is joining in with other young professionals to be the most educated group to join the workforce. That means they realize how competitive the job field is, and they are ready to learn. Education DIVE says “For Gen Z, it seems that learning is a continuous, multi-faceted experience, and one that’s best experienced when it’s hands-on.” They are willing to take on internships, job shadow programs, or other learning experiences in order to get an edge on others in their industry and grow in their careers. They understand that it won’t be easy to land their dream job. Therefore, the only way to get there is to be proactive about their learning. Fortune points out, “While many businesses are touting friendly workplace cultures with flexible schedules and transparent salaries in order to lure talent, they may need to offer more career focused perks instead for Gen Z. Today’s college students ranked opportunity for career growth as the most important aspect of their first job (36%)”.
4. They Favor a Work-Life Balance
While this generation is ready to work hard, they also want their social lives to remain intact. They want to maintain a life outside of work at the end of the work day. This can also translate to social interaction within the workplace. They care about the culture and environment of the company they work for. According to a survey by Randstad, 19% of this generation rank work flexibility from employers as the most important benefit. They also look for flexibility over basic needs like healthcare. Employers will have to keep in mind that this generation cares about a well-rounded life in order to be a better employee. This can also translate into events with coworkers outside of work, building a team into a family at the office.
5. Student Debt is On All of Their Minds
With student debt rising every year, college is becoming harder and harder to afford. This is one of the biggest worries on the minds of Gen Z professionals entering the workforce. A survey on student loan debt found that “Seven in 10 seniors (68%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower. This represents a 4% increase from the average debt of 2014 graduates.” This is no small amount of money, and tuition is only increasing. Employers should be cognizant of this fact and understand these worries by future generations. Generation Z puts their education first, but at a very high price. They are now about to show off the knowledge and skills they learned- get ready for Gen Z!