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Are You Prepared for Generation Z?

Gen Z Skating to Work

Learn how these youngest workers stack up against other generations, and what they value at work.

No longer just up-and-coming professionals, Pew Research reports millennials, or individuals aged 22 to 38, now represent the largest segment of the U.S. workforce. What does that mean for leaders and HR professionals? It is officially time to shift attention toward Generation Z, or people born after 1997. Not only is Gen Z beginning to enter the workforce, the New York Times reports they'll be the largest generation yet, at some 60 million members. For organizations struggling against talent shortages and impending boomer retirements, the oldest members of Generation Z can represent a new stream of entry-level talent for organizations.

Here's how the youngest generation's values stack up against other members of the workforce, and how to capitalize on their values to stay relevant and competitive as your workforce evolves to include this new group.

Who Is Generation Z?

Research by Universum indicates that members of Generation Z may be hitting the workforce much more quickly than HR leaders previously suspected. Their findings also point to some unique generational perspectives. For instance, just 38 percent believe that college is an effective means of preparation for professional life, and 60 percent are actively interested in on-the-job education opportunities from employers who will hire without a four-year education.

Raised among massive open online courses and other forms of alternative education, members of this generation appear to be willing to blaze their own path. Their remarkable pragmatism and high aspirations are likely to have great value for employers, especially coupled with their high degree of self-motivation and decidedly entrepreneurial bent.

Not Like Millennials, But Not Total Opposites

Lumping members of Gen Z in with millennials may be tempting for both marketers and HR leaders, but studies on the two generations' behavior indicates a clear separation on certain issues. Millennials have earned a reputation as boundary-pushing dreamers who value experiences over money. However, Gen Z is in general more level-headed and financially responsible. While a global mindset has been a hallmark of millennials at work, Gen Z has grown up in a world where global communication is the norm, and they are more fully prepared and accustomed to the idea of taking on worldwide challenges.

Much like millennials, Gen Z's formative years have been defined by technology and touch screens, and Vision Critical reports they spend an average of over 15 hours each week engaged with smart phones. They're also fantastic multi-taskers and tool-agnostic workers, which is likely a direct by-product of growing up with so many device options. Finally, much like the generation that preceded them, 60 percent set their sights on changing the world as a lifetime goal.

How to Align Your Workplace with Gen Z Values

Considering that 61 percent of Gen Z "would rather be an entrepreneur instead of an employee after they graduate college," according to Entrepreneur, organizations who are hoping to position themselves as a relevant choice for this emerging talent would be wise to consider leveraging those values.

Here are a few tips for attracting Gen Z hires:

  • Clear autonomy and purpose within work

  • Support for personal initiatives

  • Flexible working conditions

Although it's crucial for HR leaders to provide opportunities for Gen Z workers to take initiative and grow their own careers, it's also important to account for their desire for honest and dependable leadership.

The only true constant for HR leadership is change. As millennials have shifted from entry-level workers to today's leaders, it's important to shift your talent strategy to include the needs and potential of Generation Z. By preparing for the influx of these youngest workers by taking steps to understand what makes them tick, organizations can hopefully future-proof their recruitment and retention strategies.

Sherri Elliott-Yeary, CEO of Generational Guru is an award-winning speaker, professional business consultant, and published author who energetically engages international audiences with her practical strategies for attracting, growing, and retaining top talent and loyal customers from every generation. Sherri brings over twenty years of hands-on experience to support you in designing generational solutions that address:

  • Cross-Generational Leadership Challenges

  • Generational Blind Spots in Sales

  • Effective Recruitment and Retention

  • Marketing to Millennials

For more information, please contact Sherri via email at or text/call her at 469-971-3663.

#GenerationZ #GenerationalStereotypes #leadership

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