If you’re a business owner, manager or HR director, it’s time to start understanding Gen Z workers. This Generation, the largest in American history is quickly making their way into the workforce.
Here are five things you need to know about Gen Z workers:
- They’re the most ethnically diverse Generation.
- They’re the least optimistic Generation.
- They’re driven by pragmatism and security.
- The first Generation to grow up wholly in the digital era.
- Also referred to as the “Loneliest Generation,” mental issues
are a sad characteristic of this Generation.
- Ethnic Diversity
Gen Z is the most ethnically diverse Generation in American history. Comprising 27% of the US population, almost half of this Generation are minorities. This group will be the last US generation that is predominantly white, 52% white, 25% Hispanic, 14% African American, and 4% Asian (Deloitte 2021). This Generation is more likely to grow up amid diverse family structures: single-parent, multi-racial, or a household where gender roles are blurred. Gen Z-ers are the least likely Generation to be fazed by race, sexual orientation, or religious differences (Annie E. Casey Foundation). This group of employees prefer a diverse workforce, clear promotion track and a commitment to confronting systemic racism in their ranks (The Washington Post).
This Generation is also the least optimistic. Having watched their parents struggle with the “Great Recession,” this Generation is driven by pragmatism and security. A 2018 report from the American Psychological Association titled Stress in America – Gen Z notes that 77% of US Gen Z adults were stressed about work vs. 64% of adults overall. Almost two-fifths (36%) of Gen Z-ers believe they had it the hardest” when entering the working world compared to all other generations before it, tied with the Silent Generation (ages 75-94), which generally began entering the workforce during or just after World War II (Work Institute).
- Pragmatism and Security
Due to their lack of optimism, Gen Z workers are driven by pragmatism and security. They want to know that their job is secure and that they will be able to provide for themselves and their families.
- Digital Natives
Tech savvy and mobile-first, this Generation has had smartphones before the age of twelve. Gen Z is more likely to communicate through social media and texts, spending much of their time on phones versus older generations on TV. They view their mobile devices as an extension of themselves and can feel anxiety without them. This Generation relies on their smartphones for work to keep organized and to communicate with managers and coworkers (Forbes).
- Mental Issues
The endless hours spent online have led to feelings of isolation and depression. Many of this generation fall prey to the “Compare and Despair” trap that social media represents. One in five teens has seriously considered suicide, and one in six has made a suicide attempt in the past year. Anxiety and depression rates have increased significantly in the past decade for children aged 6-17 (Annie E. Casey Foundation).
Managing Gen Z
As a business leader or manager, you must understand Gen Z workers. This Generation is unlike any other, and they bring a lot of unique perspectives to the workplace. Gen Z’s expectations in the workplace are values-driven and aligned with their morals (Forbes, 2021). This group is the first Generation just as likely to take a job they find interesting over one that pays well. To attract and retain this workforce, companies must demonstrate a commitment to social challenges like diversity, sustainability, climate change, and hunger. You can better manage and engage with your Gen Z employees by understanding their values and motivations.
To create meaningful connection with these digital natives you must reach them where they live, on their smartphones. Gen Z’s that work with their hands, tools, machines, customers, and patients require a mobile platform that allows secure connection without all the noise and distractions of messaging apps and social platforms. Providing this engagement will allow you to meet their communication needs ensuring higher employee retention, lower turnover and improved efficiencies across the organization.