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Here Comes Gen Z, and Here’s What They Want

August 12, 2020

by Lauren Boegner
Vice President, Human Resources
Choice Logistics

Born between 1995 and 2015, Gen Z now accounts for nearly one-third of the global population and one-quarter of the global workforce.

That happened quickly, didn’t it?

Gen Z snuck up on human resources professionals who have — for years — been trying to figure out how to attract millennials to the workplace.  As it turns out, Gen Z is proving to be quite different from the generation before it.

Gen Z Arrives Tech-Ready

Often described as “digital natives,” Gen Z is unsurprisingly tech-savvy.  What that means for HR professionals is that we need to ensure our websites and social media accounts are ready to reach them where they live.  And beyond broadening our digital advertising and outreach, we must keep a constant eye on reviews of our workplaces.  We’re talking about an entire generation that was raised shopping online, so they don’t tend to make big decisions without gathering information from the Internet, first.

Gen Z Wants Traditional Benefits

While the generation before them had us considering nap pods, installing pool tables, and bringing our pets to work, Gen Z is seeking more traditional benefits closer to those of Boomers or Gen X.

Maybe it’s because they watched their parents live — quite recently — through the depression zone of 2008 – 2010, but according to research by Monster, Gen Z want healthcare, 401K programs, student loan repayment benefits, and other perks that contribute to stability.

Gen Z Is Entrepreneurial

This generation came of age during a time when small business owners created half of all jobs in America.  Gen Z values working independently, the ability to adjust schedules, and the opportunity to work harder to create more autonomy and wealth for themselves.

What that means for companies that want to retain these workers is that recognition and compensation for hard work and achievement are a must — so is feedback.  In fact, this generation is likely to prefer frequent feedback over annual performance reviews.  The Internet these folks grew up with doesn’t exactly make you wait a year for information. ; )

Gen Z “Keeps It Real”

What this means is that this generation of workers values authenticity.  To recruit Gen Z, emphasize values and illustrate that your organization is driven by a sense of purpose.  When developing employee communications plans, keep face-to-face communication at the forefront.  When developing mentoring programs, pair members of Gen Z with folks who are honest and forthcoming.  And — in spite of this generation’s love affair with the Internet — show Gen Z that you respect its members by emphasizing effectiveness over expediency.

Here’s What Not to Do…

Don’t try to fool Gen Z.

Marketing videos, company-sponsored promotions, and any claims you make about what it’s like to work at your company — these should all be demonstrably true.  Pay should be equitable; however, those who work harder should be perceived to get more out of their roles.

Gen Z can spot inauthenticity and unfairness faster than you can say “email spam” or “phishing scam” — they’ve grown up sensitive to anything phony.

Provide Gen Z with a straight-shooting experience, and Gen Z will shoot straight with you.