Many politicians and employers may still regard Generation Z (or ‘Gen Z’ as colloquially) as the youth of Australia.
But with birth limits generally from 1996 to 2010, many are now entering the workforce.
In fact, recent McCrindle data suggests that Gen Zs will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025.
With this in mind, employers need to begin to understand what it is that defines this generation. What makes them unique and different? And how can they take advantage of this to attract and retain Gen Z employees?
What is Gen Z?
Gen Z, like other generations, are defined by the time of their birth. However, this does not mean that there is consensus on those dates.
Only baby boomers have a set date officially specified by the US Census Bureau. This began in 1946 with an increase in post-WWII births and ended in 1964 with a significant drop in birth rates.
However, if we rely on the generational divisions determined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), we have:
Generation X – Millennials born between 1966 and 1980 (or Generation Y) – those born between 1981 and 1995, Generation Z – those born between 1996 and 2010, Generation Alpha – those born in 2011 and later
Different cohort-wide traits characterize each generation. For example, Generation X is known as the latchkey generation because they are the first to come home after school, often in an empty house. They were also the first to have a personal computer in the home, making them more technologically savvy than any previous generation.
But, as Stats NZ points out, subsequent generations of Baby Boomers are less connected to demographic events. The definitions are therefore more likely to be somewhat abstract.
In fact, Stats NZ calls Gen X and Y made in the US “essentially marketing terms”. However, it also refers to the same detailed dates as the ABS referenced above.
What characteristics define Generation Z?
Technology is one of the first, and more defining characteristics, defining Gen Z. If Generation X and Y are tech-savvy, then Generation Z are tech wonderkinds.
Researchers believe that technology has been integrated into Gen Z’s lives from birth. Unlike Millennials, Gen Zs don’t remember a time without mobile phones, or when the Internet was not readily available.
This technology also means that they are the first truly global generation – linked to each other at record speeds. They are probably highly educated, with about 50 percent holding university degrees, and setting an average of five careers in their lifetime (also according to McRindle).
Finally, this generation is highly focused on social causes ranging from climate change to work-life balance, which influence how they move forward in life, including their work.
Gen Z in ANZ
The Australian and New Zealand-based portion of Generation Z has all the characteristics of a broader cohort. But a study by Bauer Media suggests that they may have a distinctive outlook on life.
For example, ANZ Gen Zs love to be in natural places – think of the pristine waters of Mackenzie Lake or a weekend of hiking around the peaks of Mount Warning.
Local Gen Xers are also thought to be considerate but determined to live their lives how they want to be, carefully curating the choices they make to be authentic to themselves.
Generation Z will choose a small pay packet to work for a social enterprise that feels aligned with their values, such as using Cut the Crap toilet paper or donating freely to GoFundMe and Kickstarter campaigns .
Tips for Attracting and Retaining Gen Z Employees
When it comes to working with Gen Z, what is this group looking for in an employer? And how can business owners make their workplace more attractive to Gen Z employees?
Here are some tips designed to help you make your workplace more attractive to this new group of employees.
Use modern, innovative and exciting technologies
Gen Z employees are true digital natives. They use the digital world in every aspect of their lives – from food shopping to dating. And four out of five Gen Zs (80 percent) want to work with cutting-edge technology in their careers.
If you want to attract and retain top Generation Z talent, make sure you’re providing them with tools that are efficient and engaging (including cloud-based technology, automation, AI-enabled processes, and of course , digital- first exercise).
Highlight values and social causes
Social conscience and being value-centred are one of the most defining characteristics of Gen Z. In fact, McCrindle found that 63 percent value organizational culture and the alignment of values as much more than terms and salary packaging.
From climate change to no-kill shelters, ANZ Gen Z wants to know what your organization values and what social causes you support. Consider how you can implement green initiatives in your workplace to attract Gen Z employees.
Reduce, reuse and recycle – but also consider becoming a carbon neutral company.
Take a look around your workspace. Can you add natural light and plants? Create a Wellness or Mediation Space? And use eco-friendly materials and products? These are all things the Gen Z will focus on and may get behind.
Show your support for your social cause by donating a portion of your profits to a specific cause, or you can consider a partnership – such as MYOB’s partnership with Smiling Mind.
Or you can start a corporate social responsibility program that pays employees time off to volunteer with a charity of their choice.
Adopt flexibility and work-life balance
McCrindle data also shows us that flexibility and a good work-life balance are no longer negotiable. It is a necessity for the Generation Z workplace. 61 percent see a flexible work ethic as an important part of their employment choice.
Gen Z employees don’t subscribe to the hustle culture. They want to be part of companies that rely on them to work remotely and that are dedicated to work-life balance.
In fact, more than a quarter of Generation Z will be more committed to a company that has a flexible work ethic, McCrindle says.
Optimize your onboarding processes
Gen Z is looking for authenticity and connection. And that includes in the workplace.
When onboarding Gen Z employees, make sure to give them plenty of opportunities to connect with the team and others in the company.
Hold one or two events that share your company values or highlight your social partners. Give them an onboarding partner who can help them through the process (especially where remote working is part of their working life).
Get new technology into their hands quickly, and apply training to use best practice. Use modern tools and means of training, such as videos and interactive online materials.
Most importantly, allow Gen Z employees plenty of time with managers to give and receive feedback. Taking the time to share knowledge is a definite success strategy for any organization, regardless of inter-generational sensibilities.
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Attracting and retaining Gen Z employees is an important part of the future of work, and will become more important as they become a larger part of the workforce.
By understanding the unique abilities, sensibilities, and needs of this group, you will be in an excellent position to guarantee that you not only have a strong workforce, but that you are the type of organization they want to work for.