By the end of 2020, Generation Z employees are estimated to comprise 24% of the workforce, making them the second largest age demographic following Generation Y, more commonly known as the millennials. The entry of generation Z – defined as the generation born from 1995-2010 – into the workplace presents new challenges for companies. Companies have to be ready for the inevitable influx of Gen Zers they will employ.
To help top management and company leaders adapt to the entry of this new generation, here are four things they should remember when coming up with strategies for employee acquisition, engagement, and retention.
1. Be a Forward-Thinking Organization
Young employees are naturally attracted to companies that are forward-thinking, meaning that they constantly strive for innovation and proactiveness of growth. This can be in the terms of practicing advanced processes or utilizing innovative technologies such as a board portal software in the boardroom or having integrated meeting systems in place for employees. This shows that you are willing to benefit and invest in new technology to benefit the workplace and day-to-day tasks of employees.
Being a forward-thinking organization shows that you’re more open to new ideas and are receptive to the culture of these Gen Z employees. This is good branding-wise as well, as your organization will stand out among other companies and will give a positive outlook to the new generation of job seekers.
2. Provide a clear “why”
Simon Sinek, famed author and motivational speaker, posits the idea of a “golden circle”, with why in the middle, how in the next layer, and what in the outermost layer. He argues that people respond to the purpose or vision more than the actual product. Applying this to Generation Z in the workforce, companies must clearly communicate why they do what they do to their Gen Z employees or talent prospects. In doing so, companies actively play a role in making these employees find meaning in their respective jobs.
Starting with why aligns with Gen Z’s purpose-driven nature. A study by Lovell Corporation shows that Gen Z redefines work because they are fueled by their inner need of satisfaction in terms of purpose, passion, and impact. Given this, organizations must clearly define and communicate a purpose worth committing and adhering to for Gen Z employees and prospects.
3. Encourage Growth Through the Organization
Marcie Merriman of Ernst & Young suggests that Gen Z is a generation with an expanded global view and heightened entrepreneurial spirit. Upon recognizing this, companies need to capitalize on the awareness and creativity of this generation by providing multidisciplinary experiences geared towards holistic growth.
Offering diverse experiences to Gen Z employees provides them training in various functions and skills as well as encourages them to work harder. Gen Z has grit, and companies should be up to the challenge to match it.
Another key way to encourage growth is through consistent on-the-job coaching. Despite being digital natives, Gen Zers prefer physical interactions and appreciate face-to-face communication, especially in the context of the workplace. It is also important to note that they value constant feedback, as this is indicative of support from their managers. Therefore, organizations must be genuinely open to exploring the ideas of Gen Zers.
4. Rethink Company Culture and Norms
One important thing companies must remember in creating their company culture is how it affects the mental health of their employees, as Generation Z has been reported to be the generation most prone to mental health issues. Gen Z have been primed to build their walls up as an indication of strength. More often than not, this compromises the mental health of their generation. Therefore, it is imperative for companies to offer a support system for all of their employees. This can be done through providing in-house counsel, open spaces, and mental health leaves. Extending this, wellness programs should be part of the core benefits package of companies, not just perks.
As digital natives, Generation Z employees have also become increasingly interested in alternative modes of working. For example, the term “digital nomad” was coined to refer to those who work remotely, and this is a plus point for most Gen Zers seeking out jobs. Thus, organizations may exercise flexibility in terms of where their people work, and no longer hold on to the idea that productivity can only arise from physical presence. Alternative modes of working also involve how technology can be used to automate certain tasks to conduct work more efficiently.
Generation Z employees expect themselves to deliver more than what they were once capable of, so it is clear that companies have to inevitably adjust to their entry into the workforce. The organization they are working for must be able to provide a platform for their growth. This presents a challenge for organizations to figure out the comprehensive changes they need to enact. On the other hand, this also presents an opportunity for organizations to revisit their talent management practices. At the core of all organizations are the people in it, so it is of utmost importance that organizations innovate on people management processes as much as they innovate on their products and services.