Are You Ready? Here Comes Gen Z!

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Well, you are finally getting used to the Millennials (1981-1995) and now the oldest members of Generation Z (1996-present) have started to enter the workplace. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers (1946-1964) are retiring in droves—some estimate 10,000 Baby Boomers retire each and every day. What should you expect from Generation Z and what are the implications for your organization?

This new generation are also called the Digital Natives. I can attest to this at my house. My 4 kids range in age from 12-19 so they are all Gen Z. While the older kids (19 and 17) were growing up, we really tried to monitor the amount of screen time they spent on each day. By the time the youngest (12) entered kindergarten, he was expected to do his work on computers, I-pads, etc. Even if we had wanted to stop him from being on a screen, he was required to do homework on the computer. Thus, this generation will be the most technological savvy generation to enter the workplace. However, we will also talk about what this means for communication in a moment…I see you Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers rolling your eyes already!

I would recommend a Deloitte article called Generation Z Enters the Workforce by Carolyn O’BoyleJosefin Atack, and Kelly Monahan.

Here some highlights for you to consider about this new generation—

·       Job security will be more important (many grew up in the shadow of the financial crisis)

·       Greater loyalty (see first bullet)

·       They prefer face to face conversation

·       Entry level roles are hard to find (we expect a ton out of each role post-recession)

·       Global citizens-will have a stronger network than previous generations

·       Will want flexibility in role, work setting, hours, etc.

·       Will crave feedback (they grew on social media where they get feedback all the time)

·       Strong technical skills

·       Will need help with decision making, communication skill and office protocol

A few implications for you, as a leader, as you think about incorporating Gen Z and the Millennials into your organization.

·       You may want to think about how you design your entry level roles. I would recommend thinking more about an apprentice type role where there is lots of mentoring, coaching and skill enhancement (especially soft skills.)

·       You might want to create a small cohort of younger workers and ask them what their needs are for development. Ex. Decision making, communicating up in the organization, influence skills, presentation skills, etc.

·       Mentoring be intentional and with a two-way approach. The “older” worker can learn a lot from the “younger” workers about what is happening in the marketplace, new communication channels and even what is happening the organizations culture.

·       Highlight best practices in communications and help the younger generations know your preferred communication style. However, also be willing to flex your style as needed. The once a year performance appraisal and monthly 1:1 will not be enough feedback from then newer generations.

Good luck! Continue to read and learn about the new workforce. Finally, remember each person is an individual and will have their own set of skills, competencies and experiences. However, understanding what Gen Z has experience will make you a better leader! Have fun connecting with your new workforce.