Meet Gen Z: The Future of Your Business

Diane Glover

Oct 23, 2014

Consider including in your five-year business plan an image of the people you will likely be hiring then — keeping in mind that “Generation Z” will be your entry-level hires.

lores_managing_gen_z_kkInsight into Digital Natives

The study found that Gen Y and Gen Z don’t rely on technology as much as you might think

Fifty-three percent of Gen Zers prefer face-to-face communication over technology, compared with 51 percent of Gen Yers.

Both generations also want real, personal interaction rather than doing everything via technology. Both say they prefer in-person meetings with managers (Gen Z 51 percent; Gen Y 52 percent) as opposed to emailing (16 percent and 18 percent respectively) or instant messaging (11 percent for both).

Both groups said technology is the main distraction in the workplace. Gen Y cited email (31 percent) and millennials (37 percent) pointed at instant messaging.

Few believe that technology enhances personal relationships with co-workers (Gen Z 13 percent; Gen Y 14 percent).

You may get some help from the global studyGen Y vs. Gen Z Workplace Expectations,recently released by Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm, and Randstad North America, an HR services and staffing company.

The survey polled just over 2,000 (1,000 people from each generation) across 10 countries — the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Two hundred of the respondents were in Canada.

The poll, apparently the first international study on the topic, raises some concerns about our economic future. For instance, only a little more than 50 million of Gen Zers are in the United States, while more than 300 million are in China and 350 million are in India. Nigeria, too, accounts for a huge group, says Jim Link, chief human resource officer for Atlanta-based Randstad North America.The survey polled just over 2,000 (1,000 people from each generation) across 10 countries — the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Two hundred of the respondents were in Canada.

This means that if your business wants to attract these people, it is going to have to consider how it approaches this. A diverse workforce may become less important because companies will have to become more realistic about how they acquire the people they need to get the job done, regardless of their ethnicity or country of origin.

In other words, companies may either have to import workers or go to other countries to get work done. This could have a huge impact on North American based companies and the economy.

Shifting Economics

“Gen Z has a clear advantage over Gen Y because they appear to be more realistic instead of optimistic, are likely to be more career-minded, and can quickly adapt to new technology to work more effectively,” Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, said.

He added that Gen Zers have seen how much their parents and Gen Yers (ages 21 to 32) struggled in the recession. As a result, he says, they will come to the workplace well-prepared, less entitled and more equipped to succeed.” For the purposes of this study, Gen Z was defined as those between the ages of 16 and 20. Other definitions push the upper end of that range to 25.

Because the recession was global, many of the traditional drivers of a career are slightly different for this younger group than its predecessors. “Their view of money is different due to the global recession,” Link says. He observes that they saw:

  • Their parents having to batten down the hatches in order to survive;
  • Mortgages going south, and
  • Homes being foreclosed.

So they’re going to be savers, realistic about how things get done and how hard they’re going to have to work. Chances appear good that they will use swapping, economizing, consolidating, bartering, recycling, and re-purposing. This is likely to make them more open to new ideas and ways of doing things and even less inclined to adapt to a hierarchical environment than Gen Y.

Shifting Priorities

The results show these differences in the top motivating factors between that Gen Z and Gen Y:

Opportunities for advancement (34 percent) More money (38 percent)
More money (27 percent) Opportunities for advancement (30 percent)
Meaningful work (23 percent) Meaningful work (15 percent)

Although Gen Z will actually have to enter to work force before managers understand how to deal with and manage it, the study cracks open the door and indicates a group that is more entrepreneurial and realistic than its predecessor and that prefers meaning over money.

Both generations prefer honest leaders, but Gen Zers — more than Gen Y – appear to value collaboration, with managers listening to their ideas and valuing their opinions. For your business, then, the future may require that it create honest, open cultures that support that desire for advancement.

Level Playing Field

Gen Z also is likely to be realistic about becoming successful. It doesn’t see race, age or gender as separate factors; they see only a level playing field. Employers may welcome the fact that this generation tends to think that as long as everyone has the same chance to success, all is well..

What else should you know about your future hires? Here are a few highlights from the report (see right-hand box for more insights):

1. Entrepreneurship is growing: Gen Z is even more entrepreneurial than Gen Y: 17 percent want to start a business someday compared to 11 percent of millennials.

2. They won’t stick around: Like members of the generation before them, Gen Zers don’t believe in becoming company lifers. They predict that they’ll work for about four different companies throughout their careers.

3. Respect for older generations runs deep: Gen Z generally thinks highly of Gen Y. The majority believe that millennials are open-minded, creative, and intelligent. On the other hand, 45 percent of Gen Y respondents said that the generation below them is lazy.

4. Gens Y and Z have certain expectations from you: More than half of both generations say that honesty is the most important quality in a good leader. And after honesty, they value the opportunity to follow someone with a solid vision and good communication skills.

Other attributes that distinguish the generations:

  • Gen Z (61 percent) has stronger desire for managers to listen to their ideas and value their opinions over Gen Y (56 percent),
  • Gen Y (58 percent) has a stronger desire for managers to allow them to work independently than Gen Z (46 percent).
  • Both generations picked a corporate workspace as their preferred work environment, but Gen Z likes the idea of working from home, with 20 percent saying they would perform best in a home office compared to 11 percent of Gen Y.

Looking Ahead: Randstad’s Link noted that integrated generations is an increasing challenge for employers. “Generations are separated along narrower age bands, requiring managers to juggle the needs and preferences of four or even five distinct generations working side-by-side,” he said.

@copyright BizActions

About The Author

As the Manager of Practice Growth, Diane focuses on the market awareness and growth of Kirsch CPA Group…

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