For the last decade, marketers, employers, and brands alike struggled to understand the millennial workforce. But now that the oldest millennials are reaching their mid-thirties, it's time to shift focus to the next generation—Gen Z.
Membership in Gen Z requires a birth year from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s, meaning that the oldest members in this generation started entering the workforce in the last few years. While members of Gen Z and millennials share some traits, Gen Z is far from a carbon copy of its predecessor.
"For most members of Generation Z, internet usage has been a constant since birth, making them the first true digital natives," says Andrew Challenger, vice president of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
"They know their way around technology, and they use their technological savvy to avoid content that doesn't interest them."
Indeed, according to a study by CNBC, 69% of Generation Z members actively avoid advertisements. If you are looking to capture the eyes of Gen Z members, you need to look for ways to integrate your content into the digital experience, as opposed to disrupting it.
The Most Diverse Generation
Generation Z is the most diverse generation yet, as its makeup is 56% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 14% African-American, and 4% Asian, according to Ad Age. For members of this generation, cultural differences are not only accepted, but also expected in life and in the work world.
For many, the United States' first black president was their first president.
According to a recent Challenger survey, 55.6% of companies are currently targeting the Generation Z cohort.
Stability a Priority for Gen Z
When it comes to Gen Z in the workforce, one of the biggest differences between millennials and Generation Z are their levels of practicality and desire for stability. Members of Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession, meaning they watched first-hand as their families learned to cope with unemployment and frugality.
A 2015 Adecco Way to Work survey found that more than half of Gen Z members listed student loan debt as a major contributing factor in their schooling and career decisions.
Despite looking out for their finances early, Generation Z members are willing to forgo a higher salary for job stability and career growth opportunities. Members of Gen Z are driven to succeed and look at each position as a stepping stone to a more fulfilling career.
Generation Z does not mind doing some grunt work if they feel they are gaining experience, but don’t expect them to stay around for too long. With 83% of current students believing they should stay at their first job for three years or less, according to the Adecco survey, you may find yourself retraining for entry-level positions often.
Recruiting, Retaining Gen Z
Like millennials, Gen Z members clearly are not afraid to jump quickly from company to company in search of the best possible opportunities, but three quarters of them state they are willing to work from the bottom. So, the question is, how can you recruit and retain Gen Z workers?
Generation Z members are looking for culturally diverse companies that value their employees.
"One great way to engage this cohort is through mentorship programs where members of Generation Z can interact with managerial-level staff.
"These are especially important, as they allow Gen Z to see the opportunity for their future growth and where they can move within a company.
"They will also be open to leadership conferences, development classes, and programs where they get to interact with people from all departments."
Another effective method of attracting Gen Z is offering them competitive pay and benefits.
According to the Adecco survey, only 10% list friendly work environments as the most important part of their first job, and 7% list flexible schedules as their most important qualification.
While fancy new offices may provide an exciting first impression, what it really comes down to for Generation Z is being able to feel secure about their finances and know that they will be able to complete meaningful work for the company.