Hiring Generation Z has received quite a lot of attention from researchers and business leaders. Gen Z was born between approximately 1996 and 2010 and, as with all distinct generations, they are products of the world they grew up in; the major events, the technology, the instability, and the hope. This generation saw the first black president of the USA and a woman who just missed the White House by a fraction. They have been surrounded by the rise of social responsibility as a force for change.
They also witnessed the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and sluggish political action on climate change. They have grown up in a world where both hope and despair exist side by side, and they are not about to sit still and be compliant with the status quo. They are more likely to speak up, and that's a good thing.
If you're hiring a Generation Z to manage your social media channels, don't be surprised that your tone of engagement becomes more authentic and less formal. If you hire a Gen Z to run your paid media campaigns, be prepared to be asked often for feedback, and to be given suggestions on how things might be improved. This generation has grown up in a world vastly different from X's, Y's and Boomers, and even the vaunted Millennials are moving aside for Z's to drive things forward. In Gen Z, the energy of youth is not wasted on the young.
So how do we mentor, and not manage this generation when hiring Generation Z?
How do we help them bring their voices and values to the core of our teams and organizations to make them better?
Gen Z is not looking for "stability" in the same way their parents might have. Hopping from job to job is pretty normal, rather than a negative point on the CV. Research suggests that Gen Z will change jobs an average of 10 times between the ages of 18 and 34. Why? Career development and financial freedom are uppermost concerns, and who can blame them? Saddled with increasing student debt in many countries, and with stagnant wages in many sectors, they are not about to wait for things to change.
With that desire for progression, expect to receive many requests for feedback, opportunities to grow and learn, and the incentives to match. If not, they are likely to jump ship in a candidate-driven global market. Collaborative work in a flatter hierarchy can be a great fit to provide less top-down relationship dynamics, and project-based working is a great way to provide diverse workdays and varied tasks.
Gen Z is also the most diverse generation in history and more progressive than even millennials on a range of social issues. More than 37% of Gen Z's know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, and most are aware and accepting of the changing nature of gender identity. They would certainly expect to see this as an option on your CRM and web forms, for example.
Authenticity is a hallmark of Gen Z, and so they can certainly see the difference between the corporate BS and actual action, and they're not easily fooled. This generation didn't grow up with a high power distance perception between themselves and "authority" and approach it with more than a pinch of salt. As they are less hierarchical, just level with them. Drop the superfluous business terminology and get to the point.
If you suggest that a Gen Z "leverages blue sky thinking", expect an eye roll in response (and quite right too). Authenticity means connecting emotionally too. When you say "how are you", it's not just small talk. Expect to talk about mental and emotional wellbeing, and how things are really going. There is less division between work and their life outside it now; especially so in the case of remote workers.
This means training for a start, and 84% of Gen Z expect training opportunities to be provided on the job as a minimum, and this means well-explained, properly thought out support. This is, of course, in everyone's best interests. Showing appreciation, and giving authentic and constructive feedback, is hugely important. Often. This means not only a pat on the back for a job well done, but having meaningful time to reflect on progress, milestones, and next steps in development. Being entrusted with purposeful work helps enormously too in mentoring Gen Z.
Given that this generation is total digitally native, why not ask them to help some of the other team with new technology, workarounds, and creative quirks they may not have known about. Peer teaching is hugely empowering after all. Hiring Gen Z then micro-managing them is probably the worst approach to take. They'll figure things out themselves and a guide at the side would suit them far better than a sage on the stage. They already make up 7% of the workforce and of course, this is growing all the time, so taking some time to really think about a proper mentorship approach for future hires is a good use of time.
Gen Z is purpose-driven, and integrity matters. In fact, two-thirds of Gen Z want to make a positive impact on the world through their work, have grown up with access to information at an unprecedented rate, and so they are going to ask why? Talking with any employee about the appropriate use of technology at work, use of time, organizational culture, etc are all valid. With Gen Z, however, you may need to justify things rather than say "this is just the way we do things". Explore the "why" together in onboarding so that it is internalized in a collaborative way, not handed down from on high.
If you can't justify something and have to say "that's just the way it is", then perhaps it's time to change it anyway.
Education marketing & recruitment is a fast-moving sector. We all know this. Tools change, trends shift, strategies evolve. Gen Z is coming into our teams right now, and geNEOus (formerly NEO Academy) is hugely positive about this new generation and the adaptability and sense of purpose they bring to the table. We are already dedicated to supporting our clients to reach Gen Z as prospective students. To support you in onboarding, and guiding a new generation in your team, we can also purposeful and engaging training with our Sales Academy.
Don't hesitate to reach out and connect with us to talk more.