Perspectives from a Gen Z: We’re different from millennials – 3 surprising things you should know about us!

For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workforce. The Gen Z’s are the newest group to enter the workplace, and we’ll account for a whopping 20% of workers by 2020. We’ll be a considerable portion of the workforce that’s certainly worth your attention. What Gen Z’s value most in the workplace is different from those before us, as well as the way we think, interact, and learn. I know this because I’ve not only done the research but I’ve also lived the life of one. Here are 3 things I believe are critical to think about in preparing your organization for Gen Z:

WE LOVE A CHALLENGE

Gen Z’s know and value hard work. We assume we’re starting at the bottom and are perfectly happy to do so. For us, it’s all about how we move, learn and grow throughout your company. We thrive on continuous learning. While advancing in our career is important to us, moving across the organization is even fulfilling because we get to learn fast, gain unique experiences, and grow our skill set. Give us variety, test our talents, teach us as much as you can, and allow us to fail fast. This will satisfy our need for new experiences and make us more likely to stay at your firm, rather than seeking them elsewhere. The key takeaway here is that we need you to challenge us. In a fast-moving world, it shouldn’t be difficult to throw problems our way.

WE THINK FAST (AND DIGITALLY)

We’ve grown up in a digital, high-speed world and it’s no secret that we spend a ton of time on our phones. Having a significant online presence is essential to capturing our attention. Sure, having an impressive website and straightforward application is great (and absolutely necessary) – but go beyond that. Consider the variety of social media platforms that Generation Z’s access and make use of them. Having a social media presence is a sure way to attract us. It not only shows that you’re relatable but also provides you with an opportunity to strategically and creatively introduce us to your culture, purpose, and your story; that’s extremely important in a Generation Z’s job search.

Before you hire Gen Z’s, you’ll want to think about how training strategy needs to be re-evaluated. Molded by a fast-paced world, we have the shortest attention span of any generation. Learning platforms and solutions should be quick, visual, and mobile. Growing up in a digital world has already polished our analytical skills and creativity. What we missed out on is face-to-face communication. Put more focus on developing our “soft skills”. Trust me, we’ll be the first to admit we need help with that.

WE VALUE FLEXIBILITY

Growing up a Gen Z means we’re shaped by a world that is highly customized. This translates to the workplace, where you should ditch the typical “one size fits all” career track for more a more flexible path that highlights the individual employee; building off their unique skills, talents, and previous experiences.

While we very much value the interpersonal and communication skills we gain in an office setting, Gen Z’s appreciate the flexibility that comes with travel opportunities, the ability to work remotely, and adjustable work hours. We’re used to the challenge of completing work on our own and from nearly anywhere – and in some ways, prefer it. What we need from our managers and organizations is open communication and personalized feedback on our work. In my own experience, this truly helps build confidence as a new member of the team.

Generation Z may just be beginning to enter the workforce now, but we’ll be a sizable portion of the talent pool before you know it. Taking the initiative to learn about our preferences ahead of time will help prepare you to fully leverage us in the future. Through providing a challenging, versatile work, developing a creative, digital platform for recruiting and training, and providing a flexible, customizable career path and work environment, you will have a competitive edge in attracting Gen Z’s top talent.

I’m Ali McIntyre, one of the first Gen Z’s in the workplace and loving it – watch out for my blogs as I navigate the workplace! Reach out to me through Audrey McGuckin, Talent Solutions if you’d like further insights and perspective on how to get ready for my friends and I enter the workforce.

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