Understanding Generation Z In the Workplace

A new generation of workers is upon us.

It’s time to meet Generation Z, the nearly 61 million individuals born between 1997 and 2012, who are entering our workforce at a rapid rate, bringing with them an entirely new set of skills, values, ideas, priorities and traits to the workplace. Don’t feel like you know this generation well? Consider, that by the end of 2019, Gen Z is expected to overtake Millennials as the largest generation in the world. It may come as a surprise, but a majority of Millennials are now young adults, some as old as 38, who are well established in their professional careers. At UPMC, Millenials make up 46% of our workforce, while Gen Z accounts for nearly 7%. Though each year, the make-up of these two generations at work continues to grow.

Gen Zers are vastly different from people who classify as Millenials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers, which makes it important for companies to understand what brings out the best in them. This new generation has an entirely unique perspective on engagement, professionalism, career development and how to define success in life and in the workplace. In order to attract and retain top talent, consider where these areas of Gen Z emphasis align with your company culture.  

High-Tech Minds

Generation Z is the first fully digital generation. They were raised in the era of total technology with iPhones, social media, email, video sharing, and Google searching all societal norms. They are the most tech-savvy generation in the world, however, that doesn’t mean they don’t value the importance of human interaction in the workplace. In fact, a study that surveyed 1,400 Generation Zers reported that 90% desired a human element to their work. This means, as employers, it’s important to provide a hi-tech environment molded with personal connections that go beyond the online world. Consider using open office floor plans, regular team meetings, video chats with remote employees, and post-work functions to foster a collaborative, team-friendly environment still intermixed with tech.

Work-Life Balance

When choosing an employer, a steady work-life balance is a top priority for Generation Z. That doesn’t mean they aren’t passionate about their professions, but it’s a mindset that leans more toward working to live rather than living to work. When work-life balance doesn’t exist – meaning heavy workloads, long hours, and high-pressure situations – employee burnout can leave damaging effects on a person’s professional and personal life. So, preventing burnout is a common way employers can foster an attractive workplace environment for Generation Z talent. But how? By insisting that employees unplug from their work responsibilities during evenings and over the weekend, offering remote work options, providing ample PTO packages and healthcare benefits, and even encouraging exercise breaks during the workday. Make your workplace a healthy and understanding environment, where employees aren’t reluctant to take a step back and breathe when needed.

Professional Development

For Generation Z, constant performance reviews and feedback are the tools that make them tick. That doesn’t mean quarterly, or even monthly. Each week, managers should be checking in with their employees to give measurable feedback on what they’ve done well and where they can improve. This helps them learn on the fly and develop as professionals to make progress toward reaching future goals and aspirations. Be specific with your comments and constructive criticisms with charts and graphs that track performance trends in a clear (and tech-savvy) format. And don’t forget: Generation Z also values the opportunity to give their own feedback to management, as well.  

Diversity and Inclusion

Generation Z makes up a third of the U.S. population, and by 2020, it will officially become the most diverse generation in our country’s history. For employers, this means that Gen Z will expect diverse coworkers and inclusive culture in the workplace. More than 77% of Gen Z says that a company’s D&I affects their decision to work there. To grow diversity and inclusion in your workplace, focus on it during your recruiting process when making new hires, and develop resources for your employees that foster a culture of belonging.

In conclusion, Generation Z will continue to change the culture of our workplace for the better for years to come. They’re highly talented, unique, forward-thinking, and driven. And most of all, they’re not kids anymore.