Generations are shaped by the environment into which they are born. Generation Z or simply Gen Z refers to the people born between 1997 and 2010, following the millennials. They are simply referred to as Gen Z, and colloquially also known as zoomers, iGen, or centennials.
They seek authenticity, more freedom of expression and openness to diversity. Some of the oldest zoomers finished college in 2020 and have entered the workforce. The first generation of true digital natives, Gen Z members have grown up on a very high dose of the Internet and social media. In short, they are a hypercognitive generation, which is very comfortable with tuning into multiple sources of information and integrating virtual and offline experiences.
What sets Gen Z apart?
Gen Z members refuse to define themselves through any one stereotype. Instead, they experiment with different ways of being themselves and let their experiences shape their individual identity over time. A 2020 survey by The Center for Generational Kinetics, on 1000 members of Gen Z and 1000 millennials revealed that the former is likely to seek the most value for their money as many of them are already saving money to buy a house and planning for their retirement. Another distinct factor is that they generally have high digital literacy and influence. For them, mobile-friendly websites and social media engagements are indispensable.
Since Gen Z was raised with smartphones and have always had constant information access no matter where they were. They never had to wonder about anything for too long and rarely had to make uninformed decisions. This has certainly helped their natural drive for knowledge and perfection. However, it does leave room to improve their ability to make difficult decisions.
Why is it vital for companies to focus on the needs of the Gen-Z workforce?
Generation Z will soon surpass Millennials as the most populous generation on earth and form one-third of the world’s population. In the US, Gen Z already constitutes more than a quarter of the population and is the most diverse generation in the nation’s history. India has the world’s largest Gen Z cohort with 256 million young people.
The future of work will call for people with many talents, diverse interests and wider areas of knowledge. Key skills in the future workforce will include expertise in handling digital tools and technology, ease with data and analytics, and a natural leaning for design, besides management skills.
As Gen Z-ers are about to step onto the world stage they will profoundly impact the workplace, retail consumption, technology and culture. Radically different from Millennials, this generation has an entirely unique perspective on careers, which will change the meaning of success at work and in life. Therefore, as the future workforce, HR leaders need to clearly understand how to communicate with Gen Z.
Ways to inspire and motivate Gen Z employees
Understanding how Gen Z works, their workplace expectations, and how they approach work are essential to understanding how to create a workplace that maximises their unique skills. In order to attract Gen Z employees, organisations must be ready to adopt evolution at a speed that matches the external environment. It means developing robust training and leadership programmes, with a real focus on diversity. Here are some approaches HR leaders will need to adopt to motivate and create a sense of purpose for their next-generation workforce.
Be digital from the start
The ongoing turbulent times have pushed recruiters to switch to digital hiring and adopt technology for driving recruitment at campuses. This shift to digital platforms like HirePro’s Automated Virtual Recruitment has made it simpler to conduct placement drives remotely. Digital offerings, automated assessments, video interviews and seamless remote onboarding have eased the operational complexities of campus recruitments and made the process more efficient for recruiters and potential hires. For this ambitious and self-aware generation, an organisation’s relationship with technology is a primary indicator of how advanced the company is.
Since Gen Z individuals are natives of the digital world, it reflects in their education, interactions and life choices. A study by Dell Technologies showed that nearly 80 per cent of Gen Z students aspire to work with cutting-edge technology while 91 per cent stated that technology would influence their job choice. This cohort is likely to be a major influencer for companies to fully embrace the digital age. Employers must find ways to attract young talent through greater reliance on technology.
Build trust through transparency
Positioning them to excel requires their engagement. It is also crucial to build trust between young talent and senior leadership through clear communication and transparency of processes. As the generational divide becomes apparent, having managers who can understand their unique challenges and experiences becomes critical for creating a culture that helps Gen Z thrive. Make check-in conversations a sincere dialogue with Gen Z.
Plan for effective coaching/mentorship
Future-focussed Gen Z employees are looking to work with organisations that invest in them and offer dynamic career growth opportunities. They are driven by job security, growth and opportunities to learn. HR personnel can develop strong employee profiles to hire the best talent and incorporate apprenticeship programs that advance the skills of new hires. Creating latticed career paths with multiple work formats options works well with Gen Z individuals. Organisations can also set up internal marketplaces to match projects with the required skill sets to help them scale up. These youngsters are better positioned to coach and be coached using a methodology proven by their own experience. Helping Gen Z employees become coachable will empower them to even coach their peers.
Demonstrate company culture, communicate values
Organisations must communicate what they stand for and what values are driving them to attract talented centennials. A great company culture is essential to retain employees and keep them motivated for the business’s overall success. Gen Z is a highly self-motivated and goal-oriented generation and, therefore, employers have to demonstrate that they truly value their employees. They are socially conscious and tend to choose companies that demonstrate a strong purpose, are value-driven, encourage an entrepreneurial mindset and support innovation. In addition to access to the latest technologies, flexibility at work and transparent work culture are key for this generation to succeed at work.
Embody diversity and inclusion
Gen Z is the most inclusive and diversified generation. Diversity on many dimensions including race, gender, orientation and identity matters to centennials. They find it inspiring to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Companies that represent the spectrum of differences better in their external and internal communications are much more likely to attract the best talent from this cohort. By promoting diversity and inclusivity, organisations will be encouraging Gen Z-ers to be more interested in the company’s affairs and happy with the workplace culture.
Create a sense of community
It is essential to create a sense of belonging and nurture a community for the employees. Technology can be of great aid here. Though employees have different preferences and goals, at the core, everyone seeks three things in the workplace, namely, respect, purpose and stronger connections with the people they work with. These vital elements bring people closer and give meaning to one’s daily efforts. This generation of workers have high expectations of themselves and they constantly want to make sure that they are on the right track. They also prefer two-way open communication and give frequent feedback. The combination of clear communication and recognition can create a safe space for them and foster deeper connections between their multi-generational employees, which will bring them closer to the organisation’s overall purpose and mission.
Ensure a work-life balance
Like Millennials, Centennials value having a good time and balancing it with working hard for the organisation. They heavily factor in a company’s approach to work-life balance, closely followed by compensation and benefits. Rather than counting the hours of work, managers can be encouraged to focus on productivity and the completion of a particular task. Days that need long hours to complete a task can be offset by periods when the young employees need not do a full eight-hour day. The benefits of a healthier work-life balance to any organisation are phenomenal. It leads to happier and more productive workers and helps the company hire and retain the best of Gen Z talent.
Offer greater freedom and flexibility
Ever since the pandemic, the nature of work and workspaces have become heavily technology dependent and this scenario is likely to prevail. This is conducive to Gen Z workforce. Gen Z-ers are creative, independent and entrepreneurial in their approach to work. Personalised options suitable to an individual’s needs are important. It can be something as simple as allowing employees to choose their dress code, work from home when they wish to or design their flexible work schedule. Gen Z-ers need freedom, especially in their technology-reliant workplace where they can work from literally anywhere. The traditional construct of a workday, with a defined start and end time, might not work for them. They also choose to be involved in the decision-making process and be in control of their career. This will lead to higher levels of motivation and an increase in their ability to take on responsibilities, resulting in them becoming an asset to the organisation.
The young have always embodied the zeitgeist or defining spirit of their times and deeply influenced trends and behaviour alike. Gen Z comprises true digital natives, and technology has given them an unprecedented degree of connectivity, both among themselves and with the rest of the world. The generational shifts have become more apparent; they shape technological trends. This phenomenon will bring both challenges and opportunities for companies looking to attract Gen Z-ers.
Employers must be ready to find the best practices to communicate with, manage, and engage them. Through regular feedback, promotion of interpersonal relationships and showing a clear pathway to career development, leaders can empower Gen Z-ers to perform at their full potential. Besides, to win their hearts, companies and employers will need to demonstrate a greater commitment to a broader set of societal challenges such as sustainability, climate change and hunger, and highlight their efforts as good global citizens.