Move Over Millennials, Here Comes Gen Z

23 September 2015
Read Time: 2.0 mins

Words by Carlie Tucker

Millennials recently became the largest generation in the workforce, which has led to much discussion about adapting work spaces and requirements to suit this younger generation's needs and expectations. The results are evident as the professional world embraces the technology, creative collaboration and open and friendly workplace cultures preferred by Gen Y employees.

The oldest members of Gen Y are entering their mid-thirties and have more than a few years under their professional belts. It's time, now, to turn our attentions to the next generation on deck: Gen Z.

The defining years of Gen Z vary, but the general consensus seems to be anyone born between 1995 and 2012 falls into this new generation. This makes the first round of Gen Z-ers approximately 20 years old and just a year or two off of making their professional mark on the world. They're already focusing their attentions on the challenges ahead and how they themselves will fit into the workforce. Employers should be doing the same because this new generation offers yet another set of unique expectations to add to an already generationally-diverse workforce.

While Millennials spent their formative years in the utopia of the mid-90s, Gen Z has faced the harsh realities brought on by world events such as 9/11 and the global recession. This has created a cohort of new professionals that understand all too well the uncertainties that come with striking out on your own.

Unlike Gen Y before them, Gen Z knows the challenges of finding a job in an extremely competitive market. They also understand the value of working toward professional goals. They're incredibly entrepreneurial and capable of creating opportunities. They also place more importance on work satisfaction and advancement. In short, high starting salaries are lower on their list than finding that 'dream job' that offers the possibility for professional development.

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Similar to Gen Y, this new generation values technology. A world without the internet or mobile phones didn't exist for them, and they're used to processing a constant stream of data. They've grown up with smartphones and mobile devices that give them all the information and entertainment they want or need at the touch of a button.   

As a result, they're more tech savvy than ever and possess a keen understanding of how to engage through digital platforms. On the flip side, they often lack interpersonal and face-to-face communication skills.

This love of technology has also resulted in a penchant for multi-tasking and absorbing information through multiple online sources. This is not necessarily a negative when accompanied with strong time management skills, but if left unchecked, this habit can affect work performance.  

So what does all of this mean for employers hoping to harness this new talent? The professional world is now tasked with creating processes and training that strengthens Gen Z weaknesses such as communication and focus, while encouraging strengths such as strong work ethic and independent thinking. 

This younger generation appreciates a clear professional structure and strong peer supervisors that teach while leading. Utilise this to foster one-on-one communication opportunities, and create distraction free work zones. More professional perks, such as clear job advancement and training to achieve professional goals, are a must.  Engaging through encouragement is a sure fire way to appeal to this new crop of employees.