It feels like we’ve been talking about millennials for, well a millennium, but there’s a new generation on the block, in the market, and in the workplace.
The first digital native generation they offer a unique perspective and have different needs and ambitions to past generations.
Getting an understanding of who they are and what drives them will ready you for Gen Z customers and clients and Gen Z talent that you welcome to your team.
So who are Gen Z?
Born around 1995-2010, they are the generation that's coming of age. These teens and tweens are the first generation to have grown up in a time when the internet, mobile phones and social networks were just a given. With a level of connectivity and information that other generations haven't had – on average a Gen Z'er will get a smart phone when they are 10, compared to millennials who got one at 16 and Gen X’ers at 20.
Gen Z is about to become one of the fastest growing consumer markets and people under 25 make up 41% of the world's population.
And despite being surrounded by tech, Gen Z is a bust generation, that is they are prepared to fight to survive rather than expecting to thrive. They have experienced failures of government, education and the economy and their parents have limited resource to share.
So this sizeable chunk of the population aren't just a continuation of millennials, they display very different attitudes. They are self-aware, persistent, realist, innovative and self-reliant. Attitudes that shape their behaviours, aspirations and approaches to work.
They are also arguably the generation that may be most affected – for good or bad – by the impact of the pandemic as it has impacted critical educational milestones and early career plans
Research from YouGov and Facebook that surveyed more than 9000 18–25-year-olds found some really interesting insights into Gen Z.:
- When asked to describe themselves, the three key words used were: introvert, fast learner and driven.
- The vast majority believe it’s important to develop new skills throughout life (79%) and stay well-informed about things (77%).
- In the UK, 72% of Gen Z’ers say they’ve become more interested in activism and social causes since the pandemic began.
- 69% in the UK – expect brands to make their stances on social and political issues known publicly
What this means for Gen Z as clients and customers
Whether you’re working directly with Gen Z’ers as customers or with clients focussing on the demographic, understanding their motivations can help you meet their needs.
Have a position
Gen Z'ers have an awareness of the world and how they fit into it. Whether it's sustainability, homelessness or diversity, activism is important to them and they look for brands that align with causes that matter to them. If a business is transparent and authentic on it's purpose and beliefs and acts on it Gen Z will respond favourably.
Invite them in
Gen Z'ers have been raised by parents who empowered them and they are an entreprenuerial generation - 62% would actually like to start their own companies rather than work for an established business. They want to go beyond personalisation and customisation and be part of the solution - to use their natural creativity and innovation to co-create.
Encourage their learning
It's natural for a generation raised in an 'always on' world will not only be hard-working but also have curiosity and the desire to learn. Gen Z want to pick up new skills, learn about new things and turn that into meaningful action. If you can assume the role of educator you can go on that journey with them.
Make the experience seamless
Purpose and values matter but so does convenience and efficiency. Gen Z'ers are less focused on cost than millennials and more focused on immediacy. Reaching them with a seamless digital experience and making the route to buy as simple as possible is key.
What this means for welcoming Gen Z’ers into your team
Looking at how the experiences of Gen Z might impact their approach to work will ensure you have a company culture where they can thrive.
It's an obvious one but a tech native generation is going to have high expectations when it comes to the kit they use and your digital processes. And when it comes to recruitment think beyond the traditional job sites, get your social profiles up to speed and connect with them in the online spaces they inhabit.
Be flexible and fair
An entrepreneurial mindset needs some autonomy - and with diligence and hard work the norm for Gen Z you can comfortably give it to them. Flexible work schedules and scope for working from home are a good place to start but you might want to consider your hierarchy too. Gen Z want to make a difference and want to be heard - not to be too far down a chain for their opinions to matter.
Help them develop
Curious, information hungry, and ready to learn, Gen Z is a generation ripe for development - and if those opportunities aren't there are likely to look elsewhere. Whether it's work shadowing, online courses or setting them up with a mentor, continued investment in their development is key.
Get clear on your purpose
This is important for your entire team but particularly for Gen Z. As the most socially active generation ever they want to find meaning in their work. And it needs to be authentic, a part of your overall brand culture and something they can actively get involved in.
As with all generations, Gen Z is a collection of individuals with unique experiences. But taking time to understand the external factors that have shaped them, the challenges they have faced, and their view on the world will prepare you for Gen Z customers and clients and Gen Z talent that you welcome to your team.
Find out more about how the Gather community can support you and your business.