For years, employers have been striving to accommodate Millennials, their work styles, and personalities. Millennials tend to be very collaborative and generally seek a job with meaning. Now, many companies are preparing for a new generation to enter the workplace – Generation Z (Gen Z). Defined as individuals born between 1995 and 2014, they range in age from 6 to 25. While most have yet to make an impact in the workplace, they certainly will upon reaching working age. It is important to remember Gen Z and Millennials are practically polar opposites. So, how companies adapt to attract Gen-Z and mold the workplace to fit ever-changing generations is critical.
From research conducted by David Stillman (generational expert and author, see video on VAA News Center), we learn what makes Gen Z tick. First, Gen Z has only known the digital world. Technology has been commonplace and accepted as the “norm.” The only phones they have known have been “Smart.” Classrooms have had computers and X-boxes have been entertainment. Gen Z expects and uses the technology offered by employers. Second, people in Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession. Money and being pragmatic with their spending drives many of their choices. This generation questions the need for higher education and the debt that accompanies it. Third, most Gen Z’s have decided on their career path before the end of high school. To attract these potential employees, companies need to be in middle and high schools now! Finally, Gen Z is not afraid of hard work. Many have side hustles to make money. Between their main job, side hustle, and personal life, they expect a work-life blend that allows them the freedom to choose when they work and when they play. While many may not want to work traditional business hours, they will work almost any hour to get their job done. This is a very driven generation.
With unemployment rates at historic lows and Baby-Boomers retiring, companies need to understand the new workforce. Over the next year, VAA will be providing more information through monthly newsletters and Virginia Asphalt magazine as well as speakers at the VAA Annual Meeting on Workforce. We welcome any insight you can provide or articles you would like to submit.