While organisations have been focused for a decade or more on how to attract, retain and develop Generation Y, the Millennials, the oldest of them are now turning 35 and will soon become hiring managers themselves. This means that the population generation following them, Generation Z, is already coming of age and entering the workforce, with the oldest among them now turning 21 or 22. According to the Office for National Statistics, by 2025, Generation Z will make up 30% of the workforce, so it’s time to move our focus away from Millennials and consider what makes Generation Z tick and what to expect from them as employees.
If Millennials grew up with mobile phones and email as the norm, it’s been said that Generation Z kids were born with a smartphone in their hand. Also known as Digital Natives, they have grown up immersed in tech, instinctively switching between apps and utilising the cloud. These innate tech skills mean that they will be at the forefront of the digital revolution, multi-tasking every task that is given to them. A childhood in front of a screen has however come at a cost on a social level, according to recent research showing that Generation Z is “unhappier, lonelier, more lacking in confidence and less satisfied with life” than the previous Y and X generations. This may impact on how interviews are handled in the future.
Having witnessed the impact of the financial crisis of 2008, Generation Z are serious about the world of work and forging careers, and with a strong interest in wellbeing and bigger pictures issues, such as healthcare, energy and education. Growing up on shaky economic ground has also instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in them, so there is a confidence and belief in this candidate generation.
The challenge for employers is going to be how to attract them. They have an understandably shorter attention span thanks to the speed of tech and will never be separated from their preferred methods of communication. Businesses will need to up their game in terms of social media, video and communication streams to reach and convince them, as well as sharpen their focus on wellbeing for all employees. Generation Z firmly believes that a tolerant, diverse, inclusive, ethical society (and therefore workplace) should be the norm and these will have to become intrinsic values of any business for them to be interested in joining it, not just for them, but for all employees. Furthermore, having grown up with unusual political times, trolling, bots and fake news, they are also adept at spotting when something isn’t genuine, so employers will need to demonstrably embrace these values if they want to secure the best talent.