Although millennials currently comprise the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, Generation Z is hot on their heels. Born between 1995 and 2010, the older members of Gen Z are graduating college and the whole generation is expected to account for up to 40% of consumers by 2020.
The Generation Z workforce is like no other in history. They grew up in an age of unprecedented digital connections. Yet, according to Concordia University, they crave real-life connections and highly value offline relationships.
In the workplace, they are more pragmatic than millennials and value financial security and health insurance. They are also willing to put in more hours to further their career and want to be judged on merit. But perhaps most significantly, Gen Zers value a workplace that provides equal opportunity for pay and promotion, along with opportunities to learn and advance professionally.
As a business owner, how can you stay ahead of this changing workforce and leverage their tech-savvy upbringing to bring fresh ideas into the fold? Here are a few things to bear in mind and prepare for as Generation Z enters the workforce.
Gen Zers are connected, with 98% of them owning a smartphone and more than half spending at least 10 hours a day on an electronic device. With this in mind, you can bet that they are looking at your brand online. Whether it’s your social media pages, YouTube or employee review sites such as Glassdoor, pay attention to your online brand presence and its role in attracting talent — especially when compared to your competitors.
Without a doubt, this is the most tech-savvy group of people to enter the workforce, even more so than millennials. But as the statistics show, they also crave human interaction. So, although tools such as email, messaging, Slack and Basecamp are great for keeping everyone on the same page digitally, try to foster a culture that meets their need for personal attention, too.
Find ways to balance Gen Z’s familiarity with technology, such as incorporating apps to streamline workflows and tasks or exploring automation, while providing opportunities to collaborate face to face with their peers and satisfy their need for feedback from business leaders (40% want interactions with managers every day). Consider adding continuous employee feedback and engagement tools such as 15Five, Culture Amp or Officevibe to simplify the process.
Generation Z is also shaping the values of workplaces. It is a racially diverse generation, with 48% of Gen Z being non-Caucasian. They rank equality as the most important cause they expect their employers to support. They are also concerned about the environment and other social issues — and they want to see those values reflected by their employer.
To attract and retain Gen Z talent, don’t shy away from taking a stand on social and cultural issues and incorporating these core values into your company’s mission and actions. Consider engaging Gen Zers when doing so and give them opportunities to engage in meaningful work.
The monetary burdens on millennials, such as large student and credit card debt, has placed financial security as a top priority among Gen Zers. Salary and health insurance are important benefits to consider as top motivators for the Generation Z workforce, but they also view a stable workplace as one that offers room for career growth, lateral movement, mentoring, training opportunities and promotion. Take this long-term view into consideration when crafting your benefits package.
Gen Zers are edging out millennials when it comes to mental health issues. A staggering 91% report experiencing stress-related symptoms, whether physical or emotional, within the last month.
What does this mean for you as an employer? Time away from the office is important, yet Gen Zers take for granted many of the benefits that other generations consider perks, such as teleworking and generous vacation packages. This can be a challenge for small-business owners. But with some creative new offerings, such as a fully paid four-week sabbatical after five years of service or a flex Friday schedule, you can successfully appeal to Gen Zers.
When it comes to the future, 42% of Gen Zers want to have their own business someday. This reflects their desire for financial success, to work independently and to have career ownership (76% describe themselves as responsible for their own career). These entrepreneurs of tomorrow can make great employees. They’re likely to be eager to learn, open to taking on different challenges and more engaged in the success of the business. There’s also a chance they’ll stand out as brand advocates and help amplify your products, services and values beyond the business’s four walls.
By paying attention to and preparing for Generation Z’s characteristics, you’ll be setting your business up for success. Not only that — you’ll also show them that you care about their futures, thereby creating an environment where everyone wins.
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