With all the discussion of boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials, the up-and-coming generation is a mystery to many. According to the Pew Research Center, this new generation was born between 1997 and 2012. Generation Z is comprised of all different types of people, but they are consistently independent, ambitious, tech-intuitive, and always want to learn. They understand the injustices in the world and want to find a way to help fix it, but consistently value financial stability over purposeful work. This generation will be the fifth generation when entering the workforce in upcoming years, working side by side with the silent generation, baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials.
As baby boomers retire and Gen X workers and millennials move upward in companies, more and more Gen Z workers are entering the workforce. They will make up one-fifth of the labor pool by the year 2021.They have much to contribute to the workforce, and expect a lot from it. How can training professionals best serve this generation of employees? Let’s examine the characteristics of Generation Z to gain insight into the training methods that would best work for them.
Gen Zers are fiercely independent and competitive, boasting a “do-it-myself” attitude. There are growing signs that Gen Z employees are happier working alone than always as part of a group. While they do value collaboration and can work in groups, they want credit for their contributions and expect to be rewarded for their individual achievements. Companies will need to continue to provide various work configurations for both private offices and collaborative, shared space. Regarding their competitive side, companies should continue to initiate contests or competitions. Technology, such as gamification software, can help, as members of this generation are tech natives. Things like badges, leaderboards and points all can help companies by keeping this new generation motivated. These independent mindsets are a shift from the current millennial trend of preference for open spaces and collaborative areas rather than separate offices.
Drive to grow and learn
This generation is unique in its commitment to constant growth. They understand that in order to get where you want to be you need to work hard. Since many in this generation have an entrepreneurial spirit, they want to learn all they can at their jobs for future endeavors. While perks like flexible hours and remote work options are currently garnering a lot of attention, these perks pale in comparison to the opportunity to develop skills on the job. According to an Enactus survey of college students, the top three factors Generation Z respondents named in selecting a place to work were career advancement opportunities, a manager they can learn from, and professional development and training opportunities. How does this translate into training and culture? This generation wants mentors. They want someone in their workplace who they can turn to for career advice and development opportunities. This all depends on your company creating a culture where managers are engaged and involved in their employees’ success.
As you might have guessed, Generation Z is the most technologically-adept generation yet. They are the generation that grew up in this new wave of technology. They have lived during the age of iPods, Facebook and wireless internet. They have really never known a world without a smartphone. Because of this, they expect information to be at their fingertips instantly. Since they grew up with easily accessible information, they know how to filter through information quickly. The average Gen Zer has an attention span of about eight seconds. They have grown up at a time when they’re being served media and messaging from all directions, and have adapted to quickly sorting through and assessing enormous amounts of information. So, when designing training for this generation, keep messages brief and add breaks into your training schedules, since Gen Zers can get lost in an overwhelming amount of information.
Most Gen Zers expect a lot of themselves and are not willing to wait long to take the next step in their careers. One-fourth of respondents to an Enactus survey said they plan to be managing employees by the time they are out of college for five years. 34% expect to be climbing their way up the corporate ladder, but not yet in management ranks as well as 20% of respondents want to be starting their own business. This connects to the value of mentoring and professional development/training for this generation; they know if they are not constantly developing, they will be left behind. Businesses need to constantly be aware that Gen Zers are looking for challenges. They will put in the work to achieve what they want.
While, of course, every member of a generation is an individual and will have unique traits, keeping these generalizations in mind could help you prepare to welcome this new generation to the working world. It can help you prepare for their training programs and culture within your organization. This generation is open to hard work, in fact they expect it! So ongoing career development programs offered through eLearning, mobile learning, or even virtual reality can help attract and retain this generation.