Ready or not, it’s time to welcome the next culturally distinct “generation” of workers into the office, factory, clinic, and classroom. Millennials are now officially aging out of the entry-level and stepping into mid-level and management roles. They’re being replaced by new graduates who show tendencies that are distinct enough from their predecessors to warrant a generational title of their own. So what are these tendencies, and how can employers better understand them in order to build more productive relationships with their young teams?
Generation Z works hard.
All young workers typically set out to prove themselves, but Gen Z employees take a slightly different approach to the process than their predecessors. They work hard and hold themselves to high standards, and they tend to be all business. Younger workers always like to have fun, and new grads in 2020 are no exception, but they take their work and their careers very seriously. This is no surprise given the high pressure placed on them by an uncertain economy, global turmoil, and high levels of student debt.
Gen Z gives respect and expects the same in return.
Gen Z workers face high pressures, but they also face a wide landscape of opportunity. This means that if you treat them well, pay them fairly, and provide them with training and mentoring, they’ll stay. If you don’t, they won’t. End of story. New grads face diverse new forms of employment and ways to make a living that didn’t even exist ten years ago, from gig jobs to startups and opportunities to join new business models. The old stigma associated with “job hopping” no longer prevails, and in fact, career stagnation has become a larger concern. Don’t expect young workers to stay on board for more than two years, and if you want them to stay even that long, you’ll need to make it worth their while.
They know more than previous generations of young workers.
Don’t expect a 22-year-old employee to be starry-eyed or naïve, especially when it comes to important issues like pay standards, discrimination, safety laws, retirement/healthcare benefits, and other
workplace issues. Don’t blow any smoke their way. That means don’t tell them sunny stories while you offer them substandard conditions, a toxic workplace culture, or below-market pay. They’ll see through you, and if they have a poor experience with your company or brand, expect them to share it with others.
Enjoy their energy.
One thing today’s young workers have in common with all generations is still prevalent: they’re innovative, creative, fearless and optimistic. Encourage these traits, and you’ll profit from them every single day. For more on how to attract and retain Gen Z workers, talk to the hiring experts at PSU.