Since 2018, most new entry-level employees have been a part of a new generation— Generation Z—who have proven to be quite different from their Millennial counterparts. Understanding what makes Gen Z unique will enable you to know how best to recruit them, how to empower them to thrive in your company, and how to properly set them up for success throughout the rest of their career.
Since 1998, Beloit College has released an annual report entitled the “Mindset List” to help professors understand some key cultural trends of new students and how they can change their teaching strategies to best connect with the ever-younger demographic.
This principle applies to onboarding and leading incoming employees as well. To help employers better understand and prepare for these newly-minted Gen Z graduates beginning to enter the workforce, we have compiled 10 of the most important points from the Beloit College Mindset Lists that include Generation Z (Class of 2022, Class of 2021, Class of 2020, Class of 2019 and Class of 2018).
We also conducted a survey of more than 1,000 Gen Zers across the United States to better understand their workplace expectations. Several findings from this survey have been included to tie these cultural differences to real workplace concerns. Discover all the research findings in this e-book.
Key traits of a Gen Z employee:
1. Google has always been there—its mission: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.”
Gen Z is used to having all the answers at their fingertips. The longest they have ever been left wondering is when their cell phone was out of range on a cross country road trip. This has made Gen Z unconfident in decision-making. In our survey, nearly 60% of Gen Zers said they struggle assessing the reality of their problem or deciding the best way forward. They cannot stand working on a project, wondering if they are doing it the best way.
2. A “telephone” is more of a video game/GPS/research library/mini-computer than a communication device.
Technology means something entirely different to Generation Z than it does even for Millennials. They’ll have unique perspectives and problem-solving abilities that older generations may never even comprehend.
3. As toddlers, they may have taught their grandparents (Baby Boomers) how to Skype.
Gen Z is the most technologically adept generation ever, but they are more than willing to help other generations catch up. 77 percent of Gen Zers said they are willing to mentor older coworkers that might be less comfortable with technology.
4. They have grown up afraid that a shooting could happen at their school, too.
Whether because they happen more or are simply more widely reported, the fear of a terrorist attack is much higher than it has ever been. In the American Psychological Association’s 12th annual Stress in America survey, 75% of Gen Z reported being stressed by the possibility of mass shootings.
This need to feel safe and secure has spilled over into their work life. Nearly 40% responded that creating a safe space for failure is more important than workplace accountability. Gen Z want to be able to take risks without constantly fearing they will lose job security because of it.
5. They’ve probably never heard the high-pitched whine of a dial-up modem.
Knowing that there are simply some concepts, such as dial-up, that Gen Zers simply do not understand will help managers relate to them more. Rather than frustrating both parties by trying to explain outdated concepts or materials, try instead to find something more relatable and useful.
6. In their lifetimes, Blackberry has transformed from a wild fruit to a communications device and back to a fruit again.
Technology has completely changed not once but multiple times in their short lifetimes alone. Phones have become something entirely different than what they used to be, cars have become smarter than anyone could have initially imagined, and desktop computers have been replaced by laptops (and for many Gen Zers, laptops have even been replaced with tablets)—to name a few. Gen Z knows just how quickly technology can change the world and they’ll always be racing to stay ahead of the curve.
7. A movie scene longer than two minutes seems like an eternity.
Gen Z has developed an incredibly short attention span, but this also means that they can filter through information quicker than generations before and they’ve developed the ability to determine if something is good or bad almost immediately. Gen Z lives life faster and faster—and they want promotions fast to match. 76% of our survey respondents don’t think they should have to wait more than a year for a promotion.
8. Each year they’ve been alive, the U.S. population has grown by more than one million Latinxs.
Gen Z is the most diverse generation the United States has ever seen—55% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 14% African-American, and 4% Asian. Almost half consider themselves a minority. This increasing diversity has led 36% of Gen Z to report that a weak culture of diversity and inclusion would be a deal-breaker when considering a job offer. 65 percent of Gen Zers said a positive diversity and inclusion attitude is an essential characteristic of a good boss. For Gen Z, diversity is an expectation.
9. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.
Of all our survey respondents, less than 3% used a desktop or laptop to complete the survey. The remainder (97.2%) used either an Android or an iOS phone or tablet. Using workplace communication apps like Slack and Facebook Workplace allow for less “formal” communications between team members that Gen Z are already comfortable with.
10. “Good feedback” means getting 30 likes on your last Facebook post in a single afternoon.
While feedback may look a little bit different now, Gen Z are even more accustomed to receiving it than previous generations. This translated directly in the workplace since “provides feedback” was the number-one response Gen Z gave when asked which characteristics they look for most in a boss. We also found that all but 11 percent expect frequent communication with their boss. In fact, other research shows that two thirds of Gen Z said they need feedback from their supervisor at least every few weeks and 20 percent even said they needed daily feedback just to stay at their job!
Make the most of this up-and-coming generation by preparing now. Any transition is tricky, but with the right research and advice, you’ll be a Gen-Z pro in no time! For additional help with Gen Z, including the full findings from our survey, check out our e-book The Ultimate Guide to Generation Z in the Workplace.