There’s a new generation entering the workforce that displays some markedly different characteristics from its Millennial predecessors, and is offering the promise of a mutually beneficial partnership with the corporate world. In my previous post, I introduced you to Generation Z―the first generation in a number of years that’s showing a preference for pragmatism over idealism and is seeking out a harmonious and productive relationship with big business. In this post, I’m going to share what makes Gen Z different from Gen Y (Millennials) as context for how to attract and retain this valuable new talent.

Who is Gen Z and what do they want?

Gen Z is an ambitious and pragmatic group, having chosen an educational path that better aligns with the corporate environment and the changing world than have many Millennials. However, like Millennials, this is also a generation that is eager to continue to learn and develop. This new generation of workers has a much stronger likelihood of partnering well with the corporate world than its predecessors because it understands that larger firms have the resources—training, mentorship, and advancement opportunities—to help them achieve their goals.

Gen Z is already somewhat familiar with the corporate world. Seventy-eight percent of grads have spent some time in a large business environment through work-study programs. Eighty-eight percent of them chose their major based on job availability, and the majority looked for fields that promised long-term growth.

Having prepared themselves for the corporate environment during their formal education via internships and apprenticeships, they expect to continue on a strong developmental career path that includes mentoring, training, and a competitive compensation package as incentives. A full 84% expect their employer to provide formal training. They know large corporations are in a better position to offer all these benefits than are startups or small businesses.

This generation is even more digitally-native than Millennials, having grown up in an age where digital technology is pervasive. However, a significant number—42 percent—show a preference for face-to-face interactions. While Gen Z employees plan to work alongside artificial intelligence (AI), they understand interpersonal communications skills will be the key to success in today’s business world.

Essentially, Gen Z workers are approaching the corporate environment with an attitude of open-mindedness rather than entitlement. They realise they must learn and then earn. Unlike Millennials, they show a willingness to make a long-term commitment to an organisation for mutual benefit, rather than float from one company to another in search of fulfillment.

Reciprocal and tailored

If there were watch words for this relationship between the newest generation of workers and their employers, those words would be “reciprocal” and “tailored.” This generation is prepared to bend to the demands of a fast-paced, corporate environment, including a willingness to relocate and work evenings and weekends. However, they expect the companies they work for to be equally flexible in helping them achieve work-life balance. Success with Gen Z will depend on creating a reciprocal relationship of mutual benefit, grounded in an individually tailored career development experience.

In my next post, I’ll outline steps your firm can take to capture and keep Gen Z’s attention.

For more information on the Gen Z workforce, please see the Accenture report: Gen Z Rising.

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