How Businesses Can Prepare for Generation Z in the Workplace

While businesses finally started to understand how to work with millennials, they now need to figure out how to deal with the incoming workforce—Generation Z (also known as the iGen or Gen Z). Roughly defined as those born between the mid-nineties and 2010, Generation Z now outnumbers both baby boomers and millennials, at 25 percent of the US population. To attract and retain the best talent, businesses need to understand their expectations of technology and workplace environments.

Who Are Generation Z and What Makes Them Tick?

They are digital and cloud natives. Most have never known a phone that wasn't smart and grew up consuming social media. Unlike millennials and Gen X-ers, the Great Recession of 2008 had a greater impact on their worldview than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.  

Witnessing the impacts of the recession has also made them wary of taking on financial debt, including student loans for a traditional college education. 75 percent of Gen Z-ers surveyed by Rave Reviews claim that college isn’t the only path to obtaining a quality education. For those that do plan on attending university, 66 percent are opting for in-state colleges to save money on tuition, and most are picking their majors based on what jobs are available in the market.

Gen Z-ers were raised largely by Gen X-ers, who taught them to be more entrepreneurial and skeptical about the status quo. They’re a DIY crew, too, learning anything they want to know through YouTube videos or online forums. They’re also extremely competitive and incentivized by professional development and training opportunities potential employers may offer. They care about an employer’s level of technological sophistication—a lot. In fact, Gen-Z guru and researcher, David Stillman, found that over 90 percent of Gen Z-ers say that companies that use outdated technology will negatively affect their decision to join.

What Employers Need to Know to Attract Top iGen Talent

While it’s impossible to lump the entire generation into one clear bucket, there are general observations about this one that business leaders need to consider as they prepare to accommodate this gigantic inbound workforce.

  • Technology matters, but… – While this generation is coming to the table with seemingly innate technology skills and expectations, they also value face-to-face communication. They want to know that their ideas are heard in real-time and aren’t simply buried in someone’s email inbox.
  • They’re visual – Growing up with smartphones, social media, and YouTube, Gen Z-ers are visual communicators and learners. Good luck getting their attention with text-heavy emails. To keep them engaged, employers should provide internal documentation with graphics and videos.
  • They’re independent – While they tend to be more loyal to the right companies, they are also fiercely competitive. They know they have a ton of options, can upskill at any time, and find a new gig if they aren’t happy with what they have. To retain them, employers need to listen to their ideas and validate their contributions.
  • Money is critical – After watching how their families suffered in the Great Recession, Generation Z is understandably concerned about their finances. They can easily see what their peers are earning at other companies and won’t hesitate to move on for a better salary.
  • They are looking for career advancement – They aren’t a lazy bunch and are open to any and all opportunities to advance their careers. If employers can’t offer this, they will look for ones that can or even upskill on their own time and create their own venture.
  • Diversity and activism – Generation Z is the most diverse to enter the workplace. For perspective, nearly 50 percent of the iGen identify as ethnic or racial minorities. Only 18 percent of baby boomers do. On top of that, this generation is more interested in working for companies that not only embrace diversity but also stand behind a cause.

There’s No Better Time than Now to Prepare

Some are still in high school, but many have already joined the workforce or are about to. In short, it's time for businesses to prepare for Generation Z in the workplace. Many will choose not to go to college at all—instead, going to a trade school or even starting their businesses by building mobile or cloud apps. By gaining an understanding of what their career goals and technology preferences are, modern businesses can leverage the next young and eager generation's potential and stay ahead of the game in this hyper-competitive world.

If you want to attract and retain the top Generation Z talent, it’s now more important than ever to offer them opportunities to advance their careers through online learning. Simplilearn works with businesses to provide your teams with online corporate training programs in the latest technologies and best business practices. We do this through a blend of online self-learning (OSL), live instructor-led classes from industry experts, practice exams, and by enabling learners to earn the top certifications. Check out our free resources to become more familiar with the wide range of careers in which we offer training and certifications.

About the Author

Karin KelleyKarin Kelley

Karin has spent more than a decade writing about emerging enterprise and cloud technologies. A passionate and lifelong researcher, learner, and writer, Karin is also a big fan of the outdoors, music, literature, and environmental and social sustainability.

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