If you manage people who were born in generation Z – the term that refers to those born from around 1995 to 2005 – then there can be little doubt that this age group think about their careers differently. Given that this group makes up a significant segment of the workforce, dealing with generation Z from a human resources point of view is imperative to get right. All too often, medium-sized and large organisations fail to get to grips with the demands of this ‘in-between’ age group who, incidentally, should not be lumped in with millennials. Get your management of generation Z right now and ensure you retain the key staff who will form the leadership of your business in the coming years.
1. Be More Open-Minded
Generation Z is quite a liberal one. So long as their rights don’t impinge on anyone else’s, people from this age group are likely to be open-minded. Attitudes to gambling, for example, are quite liberal, even if you are talking about a casino that is online. In fact, you might even allow access to an online casino from your workplace computer network so long as it doesn’t interfere with work. Employers also need to be open-minded about issues surrounding personal freedoms of expression, including gender identity and sexual orientation. If you are seen as a stuffy employer, people from generation Z will soon post negatively about you on social media, making it harder to employ good staff.
2. Avoid Excessive Criticism
According to Sabine Bleumortier, a professional trainer who is based in Germany, managers she engages with are constantly asking why the younger generation are so difficult to manage. Her response is that, although older people managing younger ones has always been problematic, there are some issues that specifically relate to generation Z’s response to criticism. In short, younger employees are not used to it and consequently react badly to it. Bleumortier says that throughout their schooling, members of generation Z had lots of freedom of choice and that the workplace and its hierarchy can cause problems. Where criticism is justified, managers should take a constructive approach, accentuate the positive side of things and give members of generation Z the chance to speak their mind.
3. Offer Plenty of Structure
Although you might think that generation Z’s attitude to excessive criticism means they are yearning for greater freedom, the reverse is so. According to Christian Scholz, the writer of a book on the subject of generation Z and an economist, this age group want to know where their boundaries are. A clearly defined structure is beneficial because it offers a certain amount of freedom within known limitations. Without sufficient structure, he argues, members of generation Z simply don’t know where the no-go places are and, consequently, become averse to taking risks. By offering structure, people in this age group actually learn to be more self-reliant, not less.
4. Address Working Expectations
All employees have expectations about what they will get from their employer. It is crucial that managers and HR professionals really get to grips with the expectations of generation Z, however. If not, people in this age group will be more likely to leave to work for competitors than others which can be devastating for your recruitment costs. These days, members of generation Z are much more likely to stick to their contracted hours than older people, for example. They expect a secure and respectful place of work, too. If you can provide that and ensure that there is no ‘unwritten rule’ that says everyone stays behind in the office after the usual hours, then you are much more likely to retain staff from this generation.
5. Offer a Good Work-Life Balance
As mentioned, members of generation Z are more likely to avoid working for an organisation where there is a culture of putting in very long hours. Importantly, this is not because generation Z is a lazy one! If you express such an idea, then expect your workforce to push back vehemently. What people of this generation are after is a satisfying career which they will work hard at. However, they also know that old-school working patterns are no longer going to be the norm. Modern technology – the very devices that this generation has grown up with and is so familiar using – means that traditional models of work are not going to survive for much longer. Therefore, allowing home working or the ability to work from the local cafe is virtually a requirement of any forward-thinking business nowadays. Not only do people from generation Z think that this is a perk which allows for a better work-life balance, but they consider it to be the only way that organisations will operate in the next few decades. If you don’t address work-life issues, then you will be seen as something of a dinosaur!
6. Digitise Your Communications
Because generation Z is so used to apps, mobile devices and even virtual reality, you need to dump old-fashioned methods of getting your messages across. This comes down to image more than anything else. Your brand will only appeal to younger employees if it is fully digitised in terms of its recruitment marketing, for example. Only a slick social media operation is expected by members of generation Z when it comes to corporate identity.