Born between 1996 and 2010, Generation Z are the founders, the iGeneration; NET GEN - the first truly digital demographic to enter the corporate world. Are they any different to Millennials? What are the important factors to know about Generation Z? Do their consumer patterns matter?
Employers listen up; here is all you need to know about understanding and succeeding with the next age of talent and entrepreneurial spirit!
What are the key things to know about Gen Z?
Independence and personal success are significant motivators - a pivot back to traditional working morals but with contemporary, liberal opinions on identity and equality. Hardworking and competitive, Generation Z will pursue occupational security through merit, confident that quality performance will provide opportunities to accelerate their career prospects.
Due to their early exposure to independent media sources and the millennial spearhead for social consciousness, Generation Z are also becoming ever more mindful with their approach to ethics, free thought and corporate responsibility. This will play a huge part in their willingness to connect with an organisation, especially where the progression of moral conditions are concerned – this includes gender pay differentiation, diversity and mental health.
Collectively, Z-ers are already elevating expectations to reflect equality and non-stereotypical standards of behaviour. Shrewd organisations are beginning to shift their promotional focus and use available consumer intelligence to reflect these attitudes. The significant combination of smart technology and RTI means organisations can no longer portray themselves as idealistic hubs without the digital print to authenticate such claims; real PR is the future, and it is what this generation want to ‘zee’.
Those that do not react in tune with such perquisite engagements risk being ostracised in favour of contemporarily aligned employers. Gen Z-ers are collectively dedicated, technologically ready, robust, and seek honesty, truth and integrity as imperative values of any desirable workplace. This is what they crave above all else, so forget the carrot and salary – they want authenticity, authenticity, authenticity!
How do they differ to Millennials?
Millennials famously struggled to assimilate their generational individuality on environments left in the digital wake of the new century. Gen Z will suffer no such circumstances. They will however face their own duality with the culture created by their preceding counterparts.
Millennials desire financial security with a purpose. They want to matter – as do Gen Zers – however, entering the workplace during the steepest periods of the recession has engrained a practical sense to capital, value and development. The millennial mind-set entwined to embrace time and experiences over materialism. Such was the uncertainty regarding employment and earning potential that spending beyond items of necessity was not deemed “worth it”, and as a result, we saw a motivational pursuit of work-life balance and job satisfaction in contrast to labour and pay.
This defining expression has shifted with Generation Z. No longer is there a prevailing consensus of “it’s not worth it”. Now, they want to “earn it”.
Do not forget though millennials were recruited during the age of austerity – their successors have experienced it also. They grew up and witnessed first-hand that there are winners and losers; with the latter increasingly likely unless an individual is competitive for success. Generation Z are concerned that without having the necessary tools to support themselves, their unique identity, and prospects as an individual will always be potentially limited.
Identity is thus a key feature in the differences between Millennials and Generation Z. To succeed, organisations must strike a balance with the way Millennials reportedly favour a collaborative mentality of recognition and satisfaction, while introducing new approaches to development that focus distinctively on Zers individual aspirations.
Organisational messages from a performance management perspective must take precedent with this and evolve from “we can get there together”, to “we can provide a platform to get yourself there”.
This particular world view permeates throughout the attitudes and lifestyle choices of Generation Z; they will replicate consumer patterns and expect brands, organisations and business leaders to drive their loyalty through connection, engagement and development assertions.
How can you create an environment to allow Millennials and Generation Z to flourish?
Understanding the co-creation of value is a significant instrument in transforming the culture of performance management and those from younger generations. Organisations that are to be blueprint leaders are already cross-examining generational traits to implement modern initiatives constructed around development, evaluation and reaching career goals. Contemporary examples already include:
- The elimination of annual performance reviews in favour of regular feedback sessions - symbolic of the expectations of RTI driven generations.
- The progression of work-life integration – using technology to bridge the division between work and personal life; removing the emphasis of time worked, to targets achieved.
- Working empowerment – the removal of micromanagement to imprint an identity on projects and personal assignments.
The relationship between managers and employees will be more important than ever - as will the level of trust devolved to employees - indefinitely changing the traditional employer/employee dynamic toward a relationship based on mentorship.
Key to this approach – and the notion of value co-creation as a concept – is to show each cohort that they are part of something significant; that they will add value, learn and provide an integral aspect to a role that keeps a bigger picture moving forward.
This is the “connected” element Millennials and Zers profess to chase. It is about being part of an environment directed toward fulfilment. They want to achieve, and be proud of their work – of course – but more importantly, they want to make sure that investment in any role is part of a greater journey of self-development and success; that an organisation not only cares about their future within the confines of one professional setting, but also their growth as a human being.
Clear representation in creating an environment for Millennials and Generation Z to flourish is therefore about collaborating, and democratised leadership, about opening dialogue and providing socio-progressive conversations that resonate with new concepts of engagement and cultural choice.
Organisations that understand these diverse concepts and engage them in the co-creation of value are likely to gain a major foothold in the market for the next wave of talent to enter the corporate world.