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The 10 Things You Need to Know About Gen Z in the Office

The first thing to know about members of Gen Z is that they’re not millennials, which means your approach to hiring and managing them needs to be completely rethought.
The 10 Things You Need to Know About Gen Z in the Office

The first thing to know about members of Gen Z is that they’re not millennials, which means your approach to hiring and managing them needs to be completely rethought.

First, let’s clarify something: Whether you call them Gen Z, iGen, or post-millenials, this generational cohort is vastly different than the ones that came before it. While millennials–those born between 1981 and 1996–grew up pioneering and adopting new technologies, Gen Z’ers have been digital natives from birth.

Members of this latter cohort, born after 1997, make up 26% of the U.S. population, which is more than any other single generational cohort. They’re also the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, and are marked by growing up during turbulent times of recession and financial crises, terrorism and school shootings, and the increasing influence of social media on their lives.

Crucially, the 61 million members of Gen Z are beginning to enter the workforce, leaving managers and coworkers alike perplexed by how different Gen Z is. Navigating these new generational dynamics is important to consider, and 75% of managers identified managing multigenerational teams and different work expectations across generations as a challenge.

Bureau has compiled the definitive guide to working with Gen Z in the office, including the relevant statistics and what to do about them.

1. They Want Face-to-Face Communication

It’s true: Gen Z does spend more time on their phone than any other cohort, but that doesn’t mean they want every conversation to take place through Slack. In fact, one report found that 74% of Gen Z prefers to communicate face-to-face with their colleagues, and others have suggested that Gen Z isn’t as interested in remote work for this very reason.

2. They Hate Your Open Office Floor Plan

Attitudes toward collaboration and sharing in the workplace have been pioneered by millenials, but that doesn’t mean they extend to Gen Z. While 88% of millennials prefer a collaborative-based work environment, like an open office floor plan, 35% of Gen Z “would rather share socks than an office space.” Gen Z is also more likely to tackle problems by themselves, with 71% agreeing with the phrase that “if you want it done right, then do it yourself.”

3. They Don’t Really Care about Your Ping-Pong Table

Advertising your office’s ping-pong table, nap pods, and unlimited beer on tap isn’t going to attract Gen Z in the way it attracts millennials. Instead, the things they’re looking for in their first job are more typically associated with Boomers and Gen X, such as health insurance (70%), a competitive salary (63%) and a boss they respect (61%). Additionally, their career priorities include a stable career path (89% important or very important), competitive salary and benefits (87%), and work-life balance (84%).

4. They’re Probably Going to Have a Side Hustle

In 2016, 43% of teens had a summer job, which is down from 54% in 2006 and 65% in 1996. Instead, Gen Z is more likely to pick up on a few side hustles, such as selling clothes on Instagram or tutoring. This reflects the growing entrepreneurial spirit of Gen Z, with 77% reporting that they want to be their own boss, and 45% say they plan to start their own business.

5. They’re More Likely to Switch Roles, not Companies

Millennials are commonly associated as chronic job-hoppers, staying at a company for just a year or two before switching somewhere else. Gen Z, in contrast, values the security and stability of their job, partly due to growing up during a recession. Instead of switching companies, Gen Z is more interested in climbing the ladder within their own company, with two-thirds of them saying their goal is to make it to the top.

6. They’re Going to Stalk You Before Accepting a Position

As digital natives, members of Gen Z are accustomed to researching online before making any decision, whether that means dinner recommendations on Yelp or reviews on Amazon. That means they’re going to look at your profile on their preferred social media platform, so having a strong and up-to-date presence is vital to attracting top talent. YouTube is reportedly the most popular platform that Gen Z uses to learn more about a company, followed by Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, and then Glassdoor.

7. They Crave Frequent Feedback

With anxiety rates soaring among Gen Z, employees of this cohort crave frequent feedback from their managers as a form of reassurement. 60% say they want recurring check-ins with their superiors during the week, and of those, 40% want check-ins daily or even several times throughout the day. Feedback is viewed as an important tool in retention, with two-thirds of Gen Z saying they need feedback every few weeks in order to stay at their job.

8. They’re Attracted to Diverse Teams

Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation ever, so it makes sense that they’re attracted to diverse organizations. 77% of Gen Z say the demographic diversity of a company influences their decision to work there, and 63% say it’s important to work with people of varying education and skill levels. Finally, 20% say that having colleagues from culturally diverse backgrounds is the most important element of a team.

9. They Want a Younger Boss

Having a manager who Gen Z feels they can relate to is an important part of where they choose to work. In 2018, 77% of Gen Z said they’d rather their manager be a millenial than a Gen X’er or a Baby Boomer, a 10% increase from the year prior.

10. They Like Companies with a Mission

While millennials certainly care about social justice and were the driving force behind movements like marriage equality, Gen Z accepts these movements as the norm. Similar to the purchasing habits of millennials, Gen Z prefers to align themselves with companies that have a mission they care about – and 30% would even be willing to take a 10-20% pay cut to work for a company with a mission they’re passionate about.

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Akiva Thalheim | June 10, 2019