Generation Z: Are Tech-savvy Individuals Changing the Workforce?
Generation Z will be looking to join the workforce within the next 2-3 years and many will be recent college graduates, unemployed and with thousands in student loan debt. According to a recent Forbes article, U.S. student loan debt is now $1.2 trillion and continues to rise. As Gen Z begins their job hunt, many organizations are scrambling to understand, recruit and retain these individuals.
Generation Z has never lived in the world without the internet and on average they use five screens a day according to an article from CMO.com. They are much more tech-savvy than any other generation to-date and this is both a pro and con for organizations. A strong online presence is vital for any organization trying to attract, recruit and retain this generation. Gen Z’ers are adamant researchers, Googling everything from the best place to eat, to which charities corporations support. Without an online presence, an organization does not look attractive to these highly skilled job seekers. This generation wants to make a difference in the world, focusing more on the environment and humanity rather than salary and office space.
We asked a handful of HR professionals what skills Generation Z lacked compared to other generations. Here were the top three answers:
Social Skills: Generation Z has grown up in a world where they rely on technology. Using computers, smartphones and tablets as their main forms of communication, many believe this has affected their communication skills. Rather than picking up the phone to call someone, Gen Z’ers will send a text or message via social media. Face-to-face communication skills have declined with this generation. They are more comfortable behind a screen and this is a challenge for many employers. Many are interested in seeing how Generation Z handles professional conflict resolution as they have dealt with personal conflicts by simply unfriending or unfollowing someone. This won’t work in a corporate environment and with the lack of communication skills, many are rushing to understand how to educate and train this new generation on conflict resolution.
RiskTaking: Growing up during the recession has had a huge impact on Generation Z. Many watched as their parents struggled and college graduates moved back home with no job in sight. They are looking for a more structured and solid career path. Generation Z is more cautious than the previous generations and many fears this could lead to less innovative start-ups. Being a leader means taking risks, and many believe that this generation will forgo the risks and choose the more structured and planned career path. Generation Z is looking for a career that will be stable and provide the chance to grow independently within an organization.
Personal Research and Development: Admit it; libraries are pretty much a foreign land for Generation Z. When given a challenging task, the first step is always: Google what to do. Having the internet at their fingertips has reduced critical thinking and traditional research skills. Thinking through an entire challenge from start to finish, and offering a solution based on original ideas and research is rare among this generation. The internet has made an impact on authentic critical thinking and problem-solving skills for Generation Z. Business leaders are exploring e-learning, training and development as ways to enhance critical thinking skills and drive innovative problem solving for this generation.
Although this generation’s behaviors may scare many business leaders, Gen Z’ers have many skills and experiences that will flourish in the workforce, including:
- Global Awareness
- Tech-savvy & Fast Learners
- Flexibility with Hours & Locations
What Does Generation Z Want?
Generation Z has taken a new interest in preparing for the workforce. Many high school students are taking on internships and volunteer work. These projects are ones that the past generations normally didn’t tackle until their junior and senior years of college. Generation Z will be looking for organizations that can enhance personal growth by providing more training and development. This group wants an organization that shows their work has a deeper meaning and can have an impact for the greater good. Gen Z will look for the opportunity to use their personal skills and for the chance to advance within an organization.
Understanding this generation and their career goals can make your organization stand out amongst job seekers. Taking the skills they "lack" and incorporating those as strengths into the workplace will not only make your company unique, but will allow the organization to fill the skill gaps by training and developing these quick learning, open-minded individuals.
Generation Z will be in the corporate setting soon enough. Is your organization ready?