Generation Z — including people born after 1995 — is about to hit the working world in a big way. By 2020 they will account for one-third of the U.S. population, 1 and they bring a unique set of attributes to the office — some that might surprise you. After all, this is a generation that was practically born with a smartphone in their hand. As a result, companies looking to recruit and retain them must adjust their tactics. Here are the top facts about these important candidates of tomorrow that you need to know now — plus tips for hiring them and leveraging the unique skills of this talented generation.
1. Digital Natives.
Millennials grew up surrounded by tech, and they are therefore pretty savvy, but members of Gen Z literally cannot remember a world without the internet. Swiping a smartphone was learned alongside walking and talking — and many do not remember a time before social media. They have always lived in a highly connected world, and they’re used to a barrage of information coming at them from all directions. Switching between tasks and paying attention to a wide range of inputs at once is natural to them.
Tip for Employers: Don’t get too irked when seeing your Gen Z employees engaging with their smartphones. They can almost simultaneously create a work email, text with a friend, post a story on Instagram and talk on the phone. In other words, they process information quickly and can toggle in a way non-digital natives can’t, so get used to their multitasking.
2. Entrepreneurial to the Core.
Gen Z was raised watching unicorn companies like Uber and Airbnb catapult to mega success seemingly overnight. They follow social media influencers and see how easy it can be to use your own time and resources to make money. As a result, 72% of Gen Z wants to start their own business,2 and only 16% would prefer to work in a corporate environment. 3 Gen Z wants to work for organizations that give them the chance to actively contribute their perspective and move up the ladder quickly.
Tip for Employers: Opportunity for growth is their number-one priority. When you try to attract this generation, share stories about employees who have been promoted internally, give them freedom, and describe where the job you’re looking to fill right now could lead over time.
3. Highly Conscious of Culture.
Gen Z is, first and foremost, looking for the best cultural fit for them. They are less focused on benefits packages and more on the day-to-day work experience. This generation wants to do work that makes a real difference: 60% say they want to have a positive impact on the world. 4 They’re looking for companies where they’re not just a number, but where they can truly contribute to a greater good.
Tip for Employers: Think of your company as a brand: what makes it unique? How does your company contribute to something meaningful? What makes your culture stand out? Don’t forget that Gen Z reads reviews voraciously — particularly those of a company they’re considering working for — and Glassdoor is a leading source of trustworthy information for them. Regularly check and respond to your Glassdoor reviews and present your voice on Glassdoor by customizing your ‘Why Work with Us’ section and sharing company updates.
4. See Diversity as the Norm.
Gen Z has grown up surrounded by diversity, and they feel overwhelmingly positive about it. 48% are non-Caucasian, making them the most diverse generation yet.5 They are also more inclusive of people who identify as LGBTQIA+ with 35% knowing someone personally who uses gender-neutral pronouns. 6
Tip for Employers: Highly inclusive organizations generate 1.4x more revenue and are 120% more capable of meeting financial targets.7 Use Glassdoor Brand Ads to attract more diverse candidates by targeting audiences on dimensions aligned to your hiring objectives, such as candidate location, occupation, veteran status, gender and more. Glassdoor’s Diversity & Inclusion Checklist can help you build an inclusive culture.
5. Seek Work/Life Balance.
Technology has blurred the lines between work and home, entertainment and education, and private and public. By 2028, 73% of all teams are expected to have remote workers. 8 The traditional 9-to-5 job doesn’t adequately support the lives Gen Zers want to live. Raised during and after the dotcom bubble, they see flexible work models as the norm. The top thing they look for in a job is a fun place to work with a flexible schedule and virtual teams.
Tip for Employers: Allow talented people to customize their working day and operate remotely where appropriate. As long as the work gets done, it doesn’t always matter where an employee does it: in the office, at home, or at night. Promote these flexible perks on your career page, in your job descriptions, and on your Glassdoor profile.
6. Take Comfort in Security.
Gen Z is more concerned about job security than Millennials as they were deeply affected by seeing what their parents went through during the last economic downturn and financial crisis. As a result, Gen Z is more inclined to developing skills and growing a career in one place, rather than moving around from one employer to another looking to gain ground.
Tip for Employers: Be sure to promote benefits that will have an immediate effect on the lives of Gen Zers; great retirement plans are well and good, but it won’t win out over shorter-term security. What’s your company policy on paid parental leave? How about your student-loan-repayment program? Read Glassdoor’s Competitive Benefits Kit for inspiration to design a strong benefits offering.
7. Feel Stressed Out.
There has been an increase in anxiety and depression among young people since 2012 across nearly all demographics in all geographic locations.9 With constant access to the news, Gen Z is extremely stressed about events like shootings, climate change, and immigration issues.10 In fact, 27% report their mental health as fair or poor. 11
Tip for Employers: Employers can help Gen Z by creating wellness programs that facilitate employees living their healthiest and happiest lives. Promote healthy habits in the workplace — like exercising regularly and maintaining a balanced diet. Check on Glassdoor how your healthcare benefits compare to those of your talent competitors, and identify your strengths and areas for improvement.
8. Present as Individualistic.
Growing up, almost any question Gen Zers had could be immediately answered using Google or watching YouTube. And they’re used to having content personalized, from playlists to newsfeeds to product features of all kinds. Gen Z refuses to be just another anonymous member of the herd. They treasure their individuality, heritage, and being able to express themselves exactly how they want to. While they can act as team players, they protect what sets them apart both in terms of appearance and personality as well as in physical space — 69% prefer to have their own workspace. 12
Tip for Employers: Keep in mind that since Gen Z has experienced less face-to-face communication, they may be less natural in a field like customer service. Help them build their social interaction skills and customize their career paths, and work to develop a career path for Gen Zers that builds on their particular strengths and helps them develop their interests.
9. Reject Hierarchical Constructs.
Gen Z wants to be socially connected with everyone, including their boss, which can feel uncomfortable to older generations. They also expect feedback regularly. Having been raised in world that promises instant reactions (think thumbs-up approval), 40% say they want daily interactions with their boss — and if they don’t get it, they think they’ve done something wrong.13
Tip for Employers: Mentor, don’t manage young employees. Gen Z wants structure and guidance, but they don’t want a dictator squelching their entrepreneurial spirit. Focus on coaching them toward a high-quality result. Setting goals in advance will allow this generation to step up and achieve great things. Be ready to provide constant feedback, and make an effort to keep how you feel about their work completely transparent and open.
10. Have a Short Attention Span.
This generation is quick to pick up on big concepts and can contribute meaningfully to your business and your bottom line. However, while they can absorb information fast, they sometimes lose interest just as fast. Studies show that their average attention span is just 8 seconds. 14
Tip for Employers: Keep your communication short and to-the-point. When hiring, don’t overwhelm this audience with long job descriptions and endless forms asking for information that is already on their resume. If you don’t communicate concisely and focus on the big picture, your message will not reach this generation.
11. Are Educated on Their Own Terms.
75% of Gen Z believes there are alternative ways of getting an education than going to college.15 They’re also hungry to learn on the job: many are likely to be proactive about trying out multiple roles inside of an organization and seeking out individual skill development.
Tip for Employers: With nearly 60% of Gen Z seeing YouTube as their preferred way to learn, 16 learning approaches that incorporate technology and video instruction are the way to reach this group. Incorporate self-directed learning into your company’s educational programs. Leverage technology, develop a video content library and ensure your teaching strategies are developed to be mobile-friendly.
As you are beginning to interview and hire Gen Z, remember that to get a clear view of what each candidate has to offer, it will likely require suspending some of your ingrained expectations. Use this list to prep for interviews with Gen Z candidates and regular one-on-one meetings with Gen Z team members to be sure you’re assessing their potential based on current codes of conduct unclouded by outdated assumptions.
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1. Source: Marketing to Generation Z, SheerID, 2019
2. Source: 6 Trends Among Gen Z, Huffpost, 2017
3. Source: Gen Z: How to Attract the Upcoming Workforce, Randstad, 2014
4. Source: Accounting Principals, 2018
5. Source: Generation Z Is The Most Racially And Ethnically Diverse Yet, NPR, 2018
6. Source: Generation Z Looks a Lot Like Millennials, Pew Research Center 2018
7. Source: Bersin by Deloitte, Predictions for 2017, December 2016
8. Source: 73% of All Small Business Teams Will Have Remote Workers by 2028, Small Business Trends, 2018
9. Source: The Kids Are Not All Right” Time, 2016
10. Source: American Psychological Association, 2018
11. Source: Is Your Employee Wellness Program Ready For Generation Z?, Forbes, 2019
12. Source: Generation Z Versus Millennials: The 8 Differences You Need to Know, Inc., 2017
13. Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/01/61-million-gen-zers-about-to-enter-us-workforce-and-change-it.html
14. Source: Oberlo, 2019
15. Source: Sparks & Honey, 2017
16. Source: What do Generation Z and Millennials Expect from Technology in Education?, Pearson, 2018