Since entering the workforce, Millennials have made an indelible mark on the world of work. They demand flexibility and transparency and continue to challenge all industries to evolve to meet their needs. They tore down cubicles in favor of open spaces and ditched the 9-5 for free-flowing schedules and remote work. Most importantly, they demand more from the companies they work for—more collaboration, humanness, and empathy.
Now it’s Gen Z’s turn to shake things up. Generation Z, born between 1996 and 2009, represents the most diverse generation in history. At 2 billion strong in the world, Gen Z is on track to make up 27 percent of the global workforce by 2025.
Here are five things you should know to help motivate them in the workplace.
1. Give them job security and a path to a raise
Where Millennials tend to be more motivated by purpose than money, Gen Zers care more about job and financial security, according to joint research by HiBob and Eight Roads on the Young Generation in Tech (YGIT) in Europe. When asked what they would choose for their ideal company, 29 percent of Gen Z survey respondents said they prefer to join companies that can offer secure compensation packages and career path development.
While flexibility is often associated with Gen Z remaining at their workplace, only 20 percent said their ideal company was a startup with excellent and flexible work arrangements. Instead, they crave structure and rewards and must see a clear career path to stay committed to their jobs.
This sentiment is even stronger among American Gen Zers, with 70 percent saying that pay or compensation was the number one factor when choosing their workplace.
Gen Zers are also extremely confident in their professional abilities. Gen Z is fueled and defined by their competitive spirit and desire to succeed versus Millennials’ desire for fulfillment in the workplace. Even in the face of economic uncertainty, Gen Zers are confident in their ability to move up the ladder—and they’re determined to make it happen.
According to the HiBob-Eight Roads research, 27 percent of Gen Z said that the number one motivator for joining a company is its “future potential.” This goes far beyond flexible working models or professional education opportunities: 37 percent said a promotion would encourage them to stay with their current company above all else, and 30 percent said a better compensation package would do the job.
2. They need feedback, and fast!
Research has shown that Gen Z’s brains have evolved to process information faster. As a result, Gen Zers expect constant feedback from their managers. In response, many companies have remodeled the performance review to offer more focused, consistent, and impactful feedback.
This generation’s desire for feedback is part of their process of moving up the corporate ladder quickly, achieving more and more as they go. That can explain why, when looking at the YGIT data, approximately 50 percent of Gen Zers are already in managerial positions, despite their young age.
3. Gen Z is entrepreneurial
“One of the best ways I have seen leaders engage with Gen Z is to ask them how they would build a product or service or design a process,” says Paul Carney, an author and speaker on HR trends. “Gen Z has some amazing abilities to bring together information, process it, and take action. When we do allow them to share ideas, great things happen.”
According to one source, nearly 72 percent of Gen Zers want to start a business. At work, Gen Z expects a revolving door of new and exciting projects and opportunities to grow. They don’t believe you need years of experience to prove your worth or to do great work (think about all those college-aged techies in sweatshirts they grew up idolizing). They believe in the power of good ideas, innovation, and working hard to achieve your dreams.
This explains why 24 percent of Gen Z surveyed in the YGIT research want to work at a leading technology brand and why 19 percent want to work at a well-funded startup. Managers can cater to Gen Z’s motivation to win by giving them project-based work. This gives them the ownership they want over projects and the space to contribute ideas and feel their impact on the business.
4. They prefer face-to-face communication
Despite growing up with phones glued to their hands, 53 percent of Gen Zers prefer in-person communication over instant messaging or email. Make sure to set time with them to meet in person. Since they are also used to regularly processing large amounts of information fast, they want to understand the complete picture. Don’t be shy about sharing the “bad news,” such as layoffs or a product failure, with them.
While flexibility is a priority for Gen Z, it doesn’t necessarily mean they always want to work from home. Despite the pandemic making WFH much more common, Gen Z is not a strictly WFH generation. In fact, Gen Z wants to spend time in the office.
According to the YGIT research, 17 percent of Gen Zers said they dislike not having enough time in the office and that remote work keeps them less engaged. In addition to that sentiment, 15 percent said they don’t have enough opportunities to build relationships with their teams when they don’t work on site.
More remote work can prevent them from meeting colleagues, collaborating in person, and getting the hands-on training from veteran co-workers they need to build their skills and progress their careers. The moral of the story? To get the most out of Gen Z and keep them engaged, offer Gen Z more in-person work opportunities.
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5. They want a holistic and transparent approach to work
Gen Z wants to work for companies that believe in transparent work models that provide a more holistic work experience. They grew “up in a world of perfect information” that provided nearly instantaneous answers to “most of life’s questions at the push of a button.” To get the most out of Gen Z professionals, workplaces must show this young generation exactly where they’re going and how they fit into the organization’s mission and goals. This applies to everything from the interview process to Gen Z’s general career path.
To meet the challenge, companies can consider this: Instead of reviewing a resume and holding one-on-one interviews with a candidate, take another approach to the recruitment process. Try incorporating job simulations into the interviewing process that involve teamwork to resolve an urgent task. Gen Zers will feel challenged and already part of the team.
Get ready because here they come
Gen Z is one of the most diverse and (definitely one of the most driven) generations in history. They’ve already begun to make an indelible impact on the world of work with their diversity, innovation, and enthusiasm, not to mention their drive to succeed above everything else. Companies that have started rethinking their people strategy to help tap into the power of Gen Z are reaping the benefits—and a change for the better.