Office walls were torn down to create a collaborative workspace. Water coolers were replaced with ping pong tables and break rooms stocked with organic and locally-sourced snacks. Corporate social responsibility programs were amped up, and social media accounts were created. In other words, your company made room for Millennials in the workplace. And just like that, it’s time to start preparing your organization for the next wave entering the workforce: Generation Z.
Generation Z, better known as Gen Z, refers to individuals born between 1997 and 2012. As members of this rising generation start entering the workforce, it’s important to note the factors that distinguish them from their Millennial predecessors and explore how these distinctions can help organizations prepare the workplace for Gen Z.
Job and Financial Security
Unlike their Millennial counterparts who prioritize(d) chasing their dreams, the Gen Z population came of age at the height of the Great Recession. Their families felt the economic squeeze in a way that many Millennials may have missed while attending college, starting careers, or blogging about their #OOTD (otherwise known as outfit of the day).
That’s not to say Gen Z won’t value making a difference. On the contrary, this generation will still seek out employers who are committed to social responsibility. However, future Gen Z employees will be willing to sacrifice workplace perks for job security and a substantial paycheck. Looking to recruit from the next generation? Offer plenty of ways to ensure job security with the promise of pay raises in the future.
Opportunities to Collaborate, with Room for Individualism
Remember those walls that were torn down to create an open-concept workspace, ripe for teamwork and collaboration? Don’t put the hammers away quite yet. If you want to attract Gen Z, you may need to rethink your workplace design. Members of Gen Z have a competitive spirit and are willing to sacrifice collaboration for the sake of completing a project themselves, and getting the credit for a job well done. They will need a more private space to break away and work alone.
That being said, studies show that Gen Z members report the highest amounts of loneliness compared to any generation before them. Allowing for collaboration — especially face-to-face — will keep your Gen Z team members better connected, both professionally and socially.
Blurred Lines Between Work and Home
Gen Z doesn’t remember life without the internet and iPhones. (Just take a moment to let that reality wash over you.) Kids grew up with constant access to friends and strangers alike. Social media allowed them to broadcast their lives and seek instant gratification in the form of likes and retweets.
Because of all this, multitasking is second nature to Gen Z, and they value up-to-date technology that allows them to switch back and forth between tasks. But this multitasking goes beyond tasks, allowing Gen Z to toggle between work and play just as seamlessly. This somewhat disjointed workflow will certainly impact office life and challenge organizations to further blur the lines between work and home.
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Now that the dust is settling from Millennials’ workplace takeover, it’s time to start evaluating how Gen Z will reshape the workforce. It’s too soon to tell how the next generation will impact the workforce — or even culture, for that matter — but organizations can start making preparations for Gen Z by preparing job packages and creating a culture of job security, offering opportunities for both collaboration and individual work, and making the most of multitasking.
What steps will your organization make to welcome Gen Z?