In the years ahead, an unprecedented four distinct generations will be working together at the same time: baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z.
Similar to millennials, Gen X, and boomers, Gen Z will want and expect growth opportunities, good managers who care about them, and jobs that are well-suited for their talents and interests. In addition, what’s been highlighted over the years that seems to matter most and differentiate millennials will also be of utmost importance to Gen Z-ers: meaningful work, frequent communication, and technology that fosters collaboration. But, there are a few nuances in terms of what Gen Z members will want and expect from a work environment, including:
1. Want safety and stability: These young people grew up through the Great Recession which means they may have witnessed the stress, worry, and financial setback their parents faced. They may end up being even more motivated by job security and money.
2. Desire independence: Some researchers speculate that these young folks prefer to have office space to themselves, rather than an open, collaborative workspace. This surprised me at first. But then I began to think about how much time kids today spend “being social” while alone, as they communicate via a variety of social sites that bring individuals and groups together. In my opinion, this is the most fascinating prediction to watch out for.
3. Expect to have to work hard: While millennials are known for collaboration, we may find this up and coming generation may be less focused on teamwork. They are accustomed to working on their own and even desire doing so. We may find they want to be judged on their own merits, rather than those of their team. According to a study by Enactus, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world, 77 percent of Gen Z feel they will need to work harder than previous generations. All generations are told they need to work hard. But this one might hear it a little bit more.
4. Prefer face-to-face communications: The previously mentioned study by Enactus found that 53 percent of Gen Z say they prefer in-person discussions over instant messaging or email. This might be due to the negative attention they’ve seen millennials receive for their reliance on technology, or because the technology they’ve grown up with (Skype, Snapchat) has allowed people to communicate with a full range of sound and motion, instead of just text. Regardless, be prepared for regular in-person meetings with your Gen Z employees to discuss their projects as well as their professional development.
The next decade will prove to be an interesting one as the four generations begin to coexist together at work. It’s important to keep in mind, these generations are still more alike than unalike with respect to what they CRAVE: they want leaders to show them respect, help them see how their work has purpose and meaning, desire strong, healthy relationships, especially with direct supervisors and managers.
About Gregg Lederman:
Gregg Lederman is a New York Times bestselling author and expert on employee engagement. His newest book, CRAVE: You Can Enhance Employee Motivation in 10 Minutes by Friday™, is due out in September of 2018.