Preparing for Gen Z Workplaces
By the numbers, Gen Z makes up 23.4% of the U.S. population and a third of the world population. Anticipating the impact this generation will have globally on the economy and the workplace, Network of Executive Women, in collaboration with Deloitte, recently released its Generation Z Report. Based on data from more than 1,500 Gen Z respondents, the report separates the myths about Gen Zers from the facts and takes a deep dive into how members of this generation will impact workplaces.
What Do We Know About Generation Z?
Gen Z grew up totally immersed in technology; they watched their parents struggle financially during the 2008 recession; and as they’ve grown, they’ve been cognizant of the rising cost of living and higher education.
The report’s findings present a three-dimensional and nuanced look at who Gen Zers are and how they think about the world of work. Here are some of the key findings:
• Box adverse: While they’re willing to sacrifice some level of personal fulfillment for financial stability, they aren’t interested in a job that puts them in a box. They want to expand skills and actively seek opportunities to do so.
• Diverse … and care about diversity: Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history, but they’re also diverse in their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. They prioritize diversity and expect diversity in marketing and business as well.
• Focused on education: Gen Zers consider a four-year college education highly important and are quickly becoming the most educated generation (and indebted) generation in history.
Gen Z is the generation most likely to demand a shift in the power dynamic between employees and employers. The report predicts that shrinking talent pools, combined with the need for next-generation skills, will put incoming employees into a position to ask for the things they want out of the workplace.
Gen Zers don’t want to start their own businesses or work from home like millennials. What they do want is to lend their skills to companies that will offer them flexibility and the chance to act entrepreneurially in personalized roles. They are attracted to opportunities that will keep them engaged while allowing them to continue developing their skills.
Many Gen Zers look to tech as an industry where they can attain these things. Out of the 1,500 surveyed, 51% of respondents ranked technology as a top industry to work in. Interestingly, only 34% of Gen Z females seek technology roles, compared to 73% of Gen Z males. This will certainly have implications for technology companies aiming to bolster diversity.
Organizations that want to attract young talent are going to need to change hiring practices, as well as the development and retention of workforce. Here are three key steps:
1. Create diverse and inclusive workplaces.
2. Consider the reputation the brand has with Gen Zers before trying to attract them.
3. Create latticed career paths with multiple work formats or introduce internal marketplaces to match projects to needed skills sets.
What Can Women Learn from Generation Z?
Following one’s interests, staying true to one’s
beliefs, and asking for what one wants in life and at work are hallmarks of this new generation. Women can learn a great deal from this generation — particularly around the power that comes from being confident in your needs and being brave enough to voice them in the workplace. Asking for what we want could be the key to attaining gender parity. Without speaking truth to power and demanding what we want, drastic change will not come.
Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, a learning and leadership community representing nearly 13,000 in 22 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at newonline.org.