Gen Z is about to enter the workforce, and thinking they’re like millennials would be a big mistake

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The first wave of Gen Z are about to graduate from university and start looking for jobs.

They are said to be hard workers, are good at multitasking but have a short attention spans and need a clear sense of purpose before committing to an organisation.

The experts say Gen Z will need to learn how to conduct themselves at work, such as acceptable use of a mobile phone, and understand the values held by older colleagues.

However, those born between 1996 and 2012 are reportedly going to be easier to please as workers than their older millennial brothers and sisters.

Best practice insight and technology company, CEB, now part of Gartner, says companies should review their resources before starting the Gen Z hiring process.

Aaron McEwan, HR advisory leader at CEB, says employers this time don’t need to adapt or tailor the hiring processes to suit the preferences of a new generation.

“Organisations around the world have spent thousands, if not millions, of dollars adapting their recruitment processes and workforce cultures in a bid to appeal to what they believed were the unique employment preferences of millennials,” he says.

“The truth is, there are more in-group differences among Millennials as a whole generation than there are between Millennials and baby boomers.”

McEwan says much of the work has already done by organisations to appeal to a younger work force.


Understand older colleagues

Now the long-term goal should be to have a recruitment process that caters to the requirements of all current and future generations, he says.

“A future looking organisation that values it people, skills and the opportunities they bring will organically attract workers from Gen Z through to baby boomers,” says McEwan.

According to recruiting experts Hays, these digital-native post-millennials will need skills that can’t be automated, an understanding of the values held by older colleagues and the ability to moderate their need for instant gratification.

“For Generation Z, the workplace is exciting but daunting,” says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand.

“This group grew up during the 2008 financial crisis and with threats from global terrorism and political uncertainty in the Middle East.

This experience has made them more self-aware, self-reliant and driven.

Instant gratification

“They are realistic, goal-oriented innovators who are constantly connected and ambitious,” says Deligiannis.

“But they seek instant gratification and feedback, which a workplace does not always provide. They also know they’ll retire at an older age, so they want work to fit around their lives.”

Deligiannis says that Gen Z, like any new generation to the world of work, need to learn workplace etiquette and understand the values held by older colleagues, even for seemingly simple things such as acceptable use of a mobile phone at work.

He also points to Gen Z’s ability to multitask as a key advantage.

“Employers must appreciate how using different devices is such an integral part of this generation’s life,” Deligiannis says.

“Their attention span is short, but their ability to use different screens at the same time means they are often better at multi-tasking than other generations.”

Hays has the following tips to recruit Gen Z:

  • Run a quick, honest and transparent recruitment process. Hays says Gen Z don’t want to hear know what the organisation says about itself because they will get their own insights from their own network. There’s also a lot of parental influence in Gen Z’s employment decisions.
  • Adopt new attraction strategies. “With a more advanced level of digital skills, this generation will be the most connected in history,” says Hays. “Organisations can therefore ask younger employees to reach out to their social media contacts when recruiting. If your job isn’t online, Gen Z won’t find it.”
  • Work-life balance “This generation has a different view of work-life balance,” says Hays. “They know they’ll work longer and as digital natives the use of technology for remote and home working is considered the norm.”
  • Provide a sense of purpose. “This generation want to understand why an organisation does what it does and how their role contributes to its success,” says Hays. “They want a clear purpose.”
  • Help them make a difference. Rob Phipps, Chief People Officer for KFC Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, says 95% of its 35,000 workforce were born after 1996. He says: ““To attract and retain Gen Z, we need to help them be the best they can be at work and in life. We help them to make a difference to each other and to their communities.”