It’s been a good ten years since millennials entered the workforce and shook things up for the gen X and the boomers. Millennials have been well installed in the corporate ecosystem, and the generations before have made their peace with them, but there’s another storm brewing, and it’s a big one. Gen Z is gearing up to enter the workforce, and a fair warning, they’re nothing like you’ve ever seen.
If the millennials did things slightly differently, then Gen Z is redefining the game. The impact this new generation of employees, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders have has been forecasted to be massive and a cornerstone of this era. The way they experience this world is significantly different; since they had opportunities to discover themselves, something their gen X parents did not have the privilege to have. Consequently, they’re extremely sure of what they want and who they want to be, and they expect you as a company to reflect that. Being extremely individualistic and cognitive of the self, they want to work in an environment that supports their vision. They are pathbreakers and creators of their path. They’re the ones to look out for. Being prepared is the way to go about it because this generation can be an extremely valuable asset and addition to every niche if their talents are harnessed correctly. So, who exactly is Gen Z? Is it just the TikTok generation? Or is there more to it? According to the Pew Research organization, anyone born after 1997 is a part of Gen Z, or colloquially, the zoomers.
The socio-political phenomena surrounding Gen Z are very pertinent in understanding what they’re all about. Millennials were undoubtedly quite radical and ethnically diverse- yet this generation manages to up the ante. Economic history shows that they began to enter the workforce during a big worldwide recession. Their life choices, earning, and spending trends have been significantly shaped by the same.
Technology, specifically communication technology, is another consideration defining this generation. Boomers saw the television bringing the world closer together. Gen X grew up in the computer revolution, in the Microsoft, IBM, and Apple era. Millennials saw the internet explosion.
In the case of Gen Z, it is stark that all the above generation-defining technologies have been a part of their lives from the get-go. The first iPhone was launched in 2007, around which the oldest Gen Z would be 10. By the time they entered their teens, they were all on the internet through their mobile devices. Wi-Fi, cell service, and entertainment on demand are all phenomena that millennials learned, but the zoomers were born with them.
Considering this information, we can safely say that this generation does things differently.
We did a deep dive into the world of Gen Z, and the key takeaways about their values and beliefs that change the way the workplace operates are iterated here:
● Holistic wellbeing, selfhood, and work-life balance are given top priority- Gen Z is very vocal about spending time meaningfully on different projects and doing only what is required, nothing more, nothing less. They value their time outside of work and are very clear that their identity is not aligned to their job, despite being quite passionate about it in the first place.
Note- Employers must be aware that they will not allow themselves to be overworked, nor will they be ready to take on any additional work.
● They question everything- This generation is fed with so much information because of the highly well-connected world they find themselves in that many contrasting views, beliefs, and opinions come to light. Much misinformation and deliberately false information make them quite cynical and doubting.
Note: They have strong opinions on everything, and it takes time to win their trust. This is a task that their employers should be ready to take on, to put them at ease and make them believe in their vision and work.
● Gen Z wants flexible jobs- They might be gravitating toward on-the-go jobs where they usually are not sitting in front of a computer. That means information needs to come directly to them wherever they are on their mobile devices since that’s how they’ve always communicated in their personal lives.
Note- As an employer, one must be prepared to give the space dynamic and free-flowing space because that is when they will provide the best results. Micromanaging does not bode well with this generation.
● They want to have a clear idea of what’s being handed to them- The organization must change to meet the expectations of these young workers. They want projects that make them grow, benefit them in some way, teach them, and will be helpful in their path. Gen Z values authenticity and expects that even in communication with their employer. Transparent, top-down communication from their seniors, where they are treated as equals, is the norm for them. Heavy usage of mobile devices and online mediums as the mode of instruction is preferred. They get most of their information via dynamic and interactive communication modalities like video calls, messaging apps, etc.
Note- Providing easy access to information and resources from employers is of utmost importance. A good, accessible two-way dialogue stream is how they go about things.
● Brand identity is not as important- How well a company is doing and what their placement in the economy is not of tantamount importance to a young Gen Z looking for work. So, if the company ideals match theirs and resonate with the company culture, they will be ready to work, no matter how small the company is. Even in the nascent stage, a little elbow grease for companies does not deter these young, determined workers.
Note- Tug at the values and ethics of these young workers rather than trying to win them over with facts and data about the company and its position. Appeal to their emotions and get them on board to make a meaningful impact.
So why does this matter? Gen Z has entered the workplace as a full-time employee and continues to change the company structure globally. Companies that aren’t dynamic and willing to change will have difficulty adapting to this deluge of modernity. Keeping an open mind and having a keen willingness to change is how to deal with this situation. Because honestly, for a generation as dynamic and fast-paced as this one, it is the need of the hour to be the same way right up to the very top.
I Dimock (2019), Pew Research org