Since Generation Z refers to individuals born in 1994 or after, it may seem like it’s still too soon for this young group to be making much of an impact on the workforce. But that’s far from the case. In fact, the Department of Labor forecasts that Gen Z is expected to make up almost 25% of the US workforce by 2020.
So employers had better ensure they’re prepared for the emergence of Gen Z and are ready to communicate effectively with these workers. That’s the message that Randstad North America CHRO Jim Link drives home on our recent XpertHR podcast.
Generation Z members have had digital technology in their hands for most of their lives. And much has been made of Gen Z – not to mention Millennials – being absolutely attached at the hip to their smartphones. Conversing with others seems an almost quaint notion. After all, why chat or call when you can text?
But Link advises that employers should be careful not to make assumptions about Gen Z based on these stereotypes. “When it really matters, when it’s really important, Gen Z members want to communicate with you and speak face to face rather than texting back and forth,” he says, noting that these workers want highly engaged managers and regular feedback. “It’s all about immediacy.”
Randstad North America conducted a survey to find out what makes Generation Z and Millennials tick. The findings support Link’s contention when it comes to communication. Globally, Gen Z and Millennials identified their most effective communication methods as follows:
- 39% in person;
- 16% email;
- 11% phone; and
- 10% instant message.
Generation Z is also an instant gratification group when it comes to rewards. Link notes that these employees want to be recognized immediately for their good work. Who doesn’t? But waiting a year-and-a-half for a promotion or fixed raise really will not fly with Gen Z, or with Millennials for that matter. That’s why, Link suggests that employers provide spot bonuses after the completion of key tasks and forego the merit-based pay increase.
But the key question among HR professionals is how to design a total rewards package that meets these young workers’ needs and makes financial sense. Link acknowledges, “In most cases we don’t have that figured out yet, but at least we’re smart enough to be asking the question.”
Work-life balance is also important to Generation Z. While these younger workers may not have kids of their own, they are often involved in activities outside of their workplace and value flexible work arrrangements as a result. Link notes that if these individuals begin to feel unable to balance their work and personal lives, they will simply leave for another job that will provide it.
In addition to the desire for communication and rewards, the Randstad survey also revealed that the biggest concerns among Gen Z include:
- Student debt;
- Career advancement; and
Link discusses these findings and more on our most recent podcast.