There are currently five different generations inhabiting the workforce: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. While the first four are well-established in the corporate world, Gen Zers are still finding their way.
As the youngest generation — comprised of those that were born in the late 90s or later — the bulk of the Gen Zers that have reached adult age are just leaving college and launching their fledgling careers.
For those in HR, the question that must be asked is how this inexperienced, youthful, extremely unique group of individuals can accentuate and improve their companies — and, if they are worth pursuing, what they must do in order to attract and retain top Gen Z talent.
Here come the digital natives
Before analyzing the particular benefits of Gen Z employees, it’s worth taking a moment to identify what is arguably the number one most important differentiating factor between this young generation and the quartet of generations that precede it: technology.
The members of Generation Z have regularly been referred to as “digital natives,” and with good reason. They were all born into a world that already operated on the internet, they grew up with mobile devices, and they never knew a world where you had to wait for a dial-up connection.
This makes Generation Z incredibly valuable to a workplace that is constantly in a state of technological flux. As older generations constantly scramble to react to changes — such as the dramatic shift to remote work caused by the coronavirus in early 2020 — Generation Zers finds themselves in their element, surviving and thriving as they adapt to the latest technology and utilize it to find success.
Benefits of Gen Z in the workforce
While the fact that Generation Z members are digital natives is interesting in a broad sense, it’s important to identify how that competitive edge translates into a positive impact in the workplace.
Gen Z adapts to new technology quickly
One of the benefits of growing up in a world that is always improving (technologically speaking) is that Gen Zers are completely comfortable adapting to the latest technology when it arrives on the scene.
For example, Generation Z is known for its desire to avoid leaving a paper trail in their online activities. This newer trend has led to sites like Snapchat finding success and has left many traditional marketers struggling to adapt. After all, a Millennial that was raised on Facebook is used to the idea of a post remaining up in perpetuity. However, a Gen Zer will be uniquely suited to adapt an existing online marketing strategy to find success in a newer social media channel.
In addition, Gen Z will be more likely to keep your online operations safe. For instance, one study found that Gen Z respondents were more likely than Millennials to consider privacy and security when operating online.
Gen Z creates new roles
The rapid-fire change of the modern world requires a willingness to be flexible regarding roles and responsibilities within a company — and Gen Zers are uniquely qualified to both create and adapt to new roles when needed.
They are a generation that is able to fearlessly adapt to new technology and use it to their benefit. This ability to adapt makes Gen Z employees perfect candidates to pioneer effective new roles as companies adapt to remote work, online marketing, and other technological arenas that are in a constant state of change.
For instance, while social media management has become a commonplace role for many companies that use online marketing, Gen Zers are comfortable with understanding the latest social sites, such as TikTok, how their paid and organic advertising might function, and how a company can utilize it to their benefit.
Gen Z brings authenticity and diversity
Finally, Generation Z isn’t a flippant collection of youths simply interested in themselves. They’re an informed, tech-savvy, and intimately connected group of individuals who bring powerful motivations into the workplace.
For instance, Gen Zers crave authenticity. They will choose to patronize companies that adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives like fighting against poverty, implementing green policies, and considering workplace diversity.
In fact, Generation Z is so different from previous generations that it naturally provides a significant level of diversity in and of itself. This isn’t just good for CSR initiatives, either. It has many other benefits, such as:
- Encouraging creativity.
- Enabling powerful collaboration.
- Cultivating a comfortable, positive work environment.
In other words, authenticity and diversity can be powerful reasons to add Generation Z employees to your workforce.
Ways to increase Gen Z retention
Here are a few ways to adapt your work environment in order to create an attractive employment opportunity for Gen Z employees:
- Embrace remote work: Gen Zers crave the ability to be autonomous and to work on their own when necessary. A good leader will avoid micromanaging and trust their younger workforce.
- Support relocation: In addition to enabling remote work, when employees must be present in a physical office, make sure to provide generous sponsored corporate relocation benefits in order to provide a sense of investment and care towards your younger employees.
- Cultivate your company’s culture: A strong, inclusive, responsible, and diverse company culture is critical — 30% of Gen Zers are willing to take a 10% to 20% pay cut if it means they can work towards something that they care about.
- Actively listen and engage: Gen Zers place a high value on mentorship and want to be heard by their elders.
- Train them for the future: Training is a key way to reduce turnover. It doesn’t matter if you’re hiring someone for the C-suite or a new customer service rep, it’s always critical to remember that training is everything.
Finding value in Generation Z
It doesn’t take much sleuthing to discover that Gen Zers can provide a singular contribution to the modern workforce. These digital natives are willing to adapt to technology and apply it in new ways. They are also genuine, authentic, and can bring a level of diversity to your workforce that can help establish your company for the future.