New Kids on the Block

The rise of Generation X and the Millennials in the workplace marked a huge shift in worldwide labor practices. These were the first generations to be digital natives. They grew up with computers and the Internet.

But Generation Z, the next in line, has started to enter the workforce, and they represent yet another tremendous cultural shift. They not only grew up with the Internet and computers, but also social media, smart phones, and other trappings of modern technology.

Since your next hire might very well be someone from this generation, let’s take a look at the attributes of those individuals that make up this group and demystify the kind of worker many predict they will become.


Although some call them the iGen, the moniker that seems to have the most sticking power remains Generation Z. While no exact date exists for the beginning of this generation, some demographers generally define them as having been born between the years of 1993 and 2014.

Regardless, the individuals that comprise this generation all share a few key, defining traits. According to Pew Research, 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one, and 45% say they are online on a near-constant basis. Their reliance upon social media, the universal use and incorporation of smartphones and technology, and the political and economic climate they grew up in all figure into a generation that views the world unlike any before them.

Data for this generation constantly refreshes and can be difficult to come by since the sample size varies alongside their developing habits. The oldest of Gen Z would have just recently received a four-year degree in college, and those that decided to directly enter the workforce have only been there for the last few years. Nonetheless, during the coming years, employers will begin to see more and more of this group applying for positions in their companies. Although data continues to emerge, we already have a good idea of what to expect.

The Job Search Process

From the research that exists, the job seeking habits of Gen Z completely reverse the trends of Millennials. According to a recent GENHQ report, the top four ways in which this generation seeks out jobs, in order from most used to least used methods, are by asking family and friends, asking someone they already know who works at a company, searching a company’s internal employment site, and lastly, by utilizing job search sites. In fact, a whopping 60% of Gen Z surveyed said they were likely or very likely to ask friends or family about job openings.

Social media found a strong foothold in the lives of this generation and continues to exist as a core channel for them to seek out jobs. 40% surveyed said they would use YouTube as the main channel to determine whether they want to work for a company, while 37% said they would use Instagram, and 38% said Snapchat. In this same poll, only 24% said they would use Glassdoor.

For employers, this poses a new challenge when it comes to recruitment. Members of Gen Z enter the job market with a wide range of expectations, and therefore, recruiters and management need to employ different tactics in order to capture attention.

When it comes to the job application, 60% of Generation Z said it should take less than 15 minutes to complete. In light of this, the application should be seen as a marketing tool and positioned as an initial, low-risk step in order for interested parties to learn more about a company. Even if this feels like a counter-intuitive way of doing business and looking for new hires, this tactic can simply come before a series of follow-ups to screen out not-so serious applicants.

This generation’s applicants want to be drawn in to their employers’ prospects. Consider adding sharing buttons, and making headlines bold and to the point. The goal is to make everything clear and accessible. For an added advantage, give your district’s brand a human element—put a face out there, discuss what you can offer as transparently as possible, and utilize video when applicable.

Desired Work Environment

While the aforementioned processes may feel radical, they are indicative of what Generation Z wants from their jobs. They aren’t simply looking for something to pay the bills. They seek a great fit where they can simultaneously meet their employers’ expectations and their own career goals in an environment that corresponds to their beliefs about the world.

63% of Gen Z feel it is important to work with people with diverse education and skill levels. An additional 20% think that having people of different ethnicities or cultures is the most important element of a team. An astounding 77% said that a company’s level of diversity affects their decision to work there.

This generation wants action when it comes to social impact and responsibility. It might be critical to find ways to incorporate community outreach and support various causes and nonprofits. Holding or participating in fundraisers and events every once in a while might not be enough. Instead, think about long-term possibilities when it comes to social outreach.

Above all, these statistics convey this generation’s desire to find employment somewhere that aligns with their worldview. A job is viewed as a necessity, and while this generation remains committed to working hard, they want to be employed with a company that reflects who they are.

Retention and Management

Once you’ve managed to fill that open slot in your company’s roster, retaining your new Gen Z employee can prove difficult, as in the case with any hire. For this budding, young generation, communication and connection is key to fostering a happy and healthy work relationship. Two-thirds said they need feedback from their supervisors at least once every few weeks in order to remain at that job. For reference, less than half of Millennials reported needing the same amount of communication to remain with their employer.

Essentially, it is not about the length of feedback as much as the frequency and content of it. These statistics show that interactions and communications need to occur consistently in order for members of Gen Z to deliver the most value to an employer. Since members of this generation have spent the majority of their lives interacting with technology, do your best to encourage enterprise thinking. Employers will achieve more with Gen Z employees when they prioritize creativity and innovation in the workplace.

Regardless of the generation, curbing burnout remains one of the biggest problems employers face with employee turnover. While reliable statistics for Gen Z don’t exist yet, seven out of ten Millennials currently experience some degree of burnout at work, which is an increase of 7% over the previous generation. Once burnout sets in, 63% are more likely to call in sick are three times as likely as those not experiencing burnout to quit. We’ve written in the past about how costly high turnover is to any employer.

The best thing an employer can do with Generation Z is leave the expectations at the door. The most common misconceptions about Gen Z are that they don’t want to work with peers or authority figures, and they want to be left alone to figure things out.

Although feedback, as we said before, is important, Gen Z still comes to the table with expectations about who they want as a supervisor. 77% said they would prefer having a Millennial manager over a Gen X or Baby boomer as a manager. In addition, 45% said that they believe working with Baby Boomers will be difficult. Respondents anticipated different work ethics, values, and expectations as the greatest challenges working in a multigenerational office. They worry about being taken less than seriously as “kids.” These were concerns that prior generations also held. That makes them predictable obstacles that you can prepare for.

The two most important factors for Gen Z to thrive at work are supportive leadership and positive relationships. It’s a common belief that this upcoming generation is anti-social, but because they have been stimulated by their electronics for so long, they crave attention more than ever.

According to international management consulting firm Robert Half, Gen Z prefers face-to-face and direct communication. Cited by 38% of those surveyed, honesty and integrity are the most valued characteristics in a boss. Top-down management techniques that might be typical to Baby Boomers or Generation X can turn off younger generations.

They have many questions, and if they can’t find the answers to these questions, they know something is not right. Next to these traits, the most important characteristic in a boss is their mentoring ability, ranking at 22%.

Above all, members of Gen Z thrive on being creative and turning ideas into tangible results that make a real impact. Provided freedom and autonomy, they can come up with unique solutions to the problems facing your business and become an invaluable asset.

Moving On

Whether or not you or your organization want to face the music, the oldest people in an organization will retire or move on to different jobs or places. If your business, organization, or district is going to survive, you have to employ fresh faces and show them the ropes. Take the time to think about marketing strategies for hiring your next round of employees. Investing in Generation Z now might be the best way to move your organization to the next level, or to keep it thriving.

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