Millennials are no longer the youngest generation in the American workforce.
Generation Z’s first class of college degree holders are entering the labor market this spring and have a completely different set of traits, interests, and values than their millennial predecessors.
It’s time to start learning about the characteristics that define this young generation, and we’ve listed 10 things you should know about them as they prepare to join the workforce. Districts that have a grasp on what motivates Generation Z will have a better chance at recruiting and retaining them. Here’s what we know so far:
- They’re competitive
- Generation Z was raised by tough love, skeptical Gen Xers and know there are winners and losers in life. In a national survey by GenZGuru, 72 percent of Gen Z respondents said they’re competitive with those doing the same job. This style contrasts with millennials, who enjoy collaborating with their colleagues.
- They love technology…
- They’re the first true digital natives, because they’re the first generation that’s only known smartphones, not the basic flip phones. Gen Z lives and breathes technology and they want to work for companies who embrace technological advancements—90 percent of survey respondents said a company’s technological sophistication would impact their decision to work there.
- ...but they prefer face-to-face interaction
- An overwhelming 84 percent of Gen Z respondents said their preferred method of communication is through face-to-face interaction. As a generation that grew up in the digital world, they’re self-aware and understand social media and texting can actually have a negative effect on real-world relationships.
- They’re attracted to stability
- A surprising 61 percent of Gen Z respondents said they would stay at a company for more than 10 years. This runs counter to the millennial mindset, where loyalty to a company is very low on the priority list. The reasoning lies with Gen Z’s upbringing in the Great Recession. The financial difficulties impacting the nation also impacted the generation's values, and some experts say they’re in “survival mode,” caring only about monetary security and benefits.
- They don’t care about a company’s reputation
- Only 5 percent of respondents said they’re motivated by a company’s outside reputation. They just want to work somewhere that’s honest and transparent with its employees.
- They’re entrepreneurial
- Approximately 75 percent of Gen Z respondents said they wish their hobby would turn into their full-time job. They also embrace the culture of moonlighting, or, in modern terms, having a side hustle. Gen Zers don’t believe in the traditional one job, 9-to-5 career. They want to have a blend of multiple jobs and side hustles they can work on interchangeably throughout the day and even after 5 p.m.
- They’re open to being mentored
- Being raised by Gen Xers, Gen Z was informed early and often that their opinions aren’t always right and that there is much to learn from others. They are more grateful for their jobs than millennials and understand they will have to start from the bottom in most cases. Millennials felt they could jump into their dream job right away without having to work their way up.
- They prioritize salary and benefits
- Because of the impact of the Great Recession on their upbringing, Gen Zers are highly concerned with financial security and benefits. Millennials were more focused on making a difference through their work.
- They’re pragmatic
- Sixty-one percent of respondents said they need to know what career they want to pursue before they go to college. In contrast, a good portion of the millennial generation went to college to figure out what career path they wanted to pursue. That’s one of the defining factors of Gen Z—they like planning and security. No surprises.
- They’re all about hyper-customization
- Gen Z is all about standing out from the crowd. They live in a personalized world—they have their own Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat accounts all with their own unique following. This generates a desire to feel unique, and employers should cater to that. Making Gen Zers feel like their job is specifically designed to their particular strengths is a big step. Fifty-six percent of Gen Z respondents said they would rather write their own job description, and 62 percent would rather customize their own career plan than have an organization do it for them. Focus on customization and personalization, and you’ll cater perfectly to Gen Z needs.