Have you recently hired employees from Generation Z, or are you about to? Do you know what their values and expectations are regarding their work life? The “oldest” people from this demographic group are still below their 30s. Like Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials, Gen Z, also called Zoomers and iGen, has its attributes. So what are the Gen Z characteristics? Seeing their parents experiencing the Great Recession, being the first generation to grow up with the Internet, inheriting issues like climate change, and starting their careers during the pandemic have deeply impacted this generation. Baby Boomers slowly begin to retire and organizations try to embrace the new workplace trends resulting from the Great Reshuffle. In this context, understanding what Gen Z is known for is crucial. Having a multigenerational workforce is a huge advantage for businesses. Yet, being aware of the needs of each generation is fundamental. From management style to company values and communication preferences, here is a clear overview of the youngest employees in the workplace.
Gen Z characteristics: the first observations about the youngest employees
Collaboration and individualism are both major traits of Zoomers
While Gen Z employees have no problem accomplishing their tasks alone, they greatly value collaborative work. The fact that this generation grew up with the Internet is an essential aspect to remember as it makes a big difference in comparison to other generations of workers. Gen Zers are used to having access to all the information and resources they need. If they don’t know something or want to learn a new skill, Google and YouTube are their best friends. But they are also used to working on projects as a group. Moreover, although digital communication is part of Gen Z’s identity, they enjoy in-person interactions a lot.
Competition highly motivates this demographic group
This generation is more competitive than previous ones and likes challenges. If done in a healthy way, organizing competitions within the workplace is a great way to keep the motivation and engagement of your workers up. This aspect also involves expecting feedback to progress and get better at their job as well as recognition. Being competitive often boosts this generation of employees to explore new ideas and create side businesses. Besides, entrepreneurship is a very powerful trait of the Gen Z personality.
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In-person communication is preferred over online communication
It might sound surprising, but in their professional environment, Gen Z prefers to communicate in person than digitally. This generation, which grew up with a phone in their hand to always be in contact with their friends, values face-to-face conversation. If they have to exchange with their peers virtually, e-mails are not their thing, but a brief video call is. If we think about it, it does make sense. A video call is quick and minimizes the risk of misunderstanding. Plus, hearing and seeing your teammates create stronger human connections.
Modern technology represents a powerful work ally for the iGen
Gen Z is the first generation born in an era when the Internet already existed. This information is fundamental as it means that this generation - compared to others - has been exposed to digital resources at an early age. As mentioned, they are used to Google everything, learning new skills by themselves online, and seeing tech as an ally in their personal and professional lives.
For them, embracing modern technology and making the most of it is a piece of cake. Encourage Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to share with them their experiences and the “TikTok generation” to introduce the perks of the digital world. Your workforce will be thriving!
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Transparency and authenticity with coworkers are central Gen Z characteristics
Compared to past generations, Gen Z has unlimited access to information online, including information that the media have not covered. This results in a group of less biased people who don’t easily trust others. They expect clear instructions, authenticity, and transparency. Moreover, because they are used to monitoring everything in their lives, like social media insights, they also require more feedback than previous generations. Through this, they can track their performance in their career too.
Pragmatism is a core attribute of Generation Z
Zoomers are also recognized for their pragmatism. They are very practical, and when given clear information and exposed to transparent communication, they quickly put things into action. This is visible not only in how they work but also in how they perceive their role in the workplace. Once they know the goals, they will do their best to find realistic solutions and reach them rationally and securely.
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Key expectations Gen Z is known for: from diversity to flexibility and sustainability
Diversity is a fundamental topic when talking about Gen Z.
Having access to a wide range of media outlets (online and offline), this demographic group has a greater awareness of global events and is more accepting of minorities. They value working with a diverse team and will even reconsider a job offer if the company isn’t actively taking DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives. Also, as we highlighted in our article regarding the benefits of diversity in the workplace, 48% of Gen Z comes from racial and ethnic minorities (29% of Baby Boomers). Meeting, interacting, collaborating, and connecting with people from different cultures and backgrounds is normal for them.
Flexible work arrangements
Although iGen is used to being online and perceives the digital world as a real-world extension, they highly value human interactions. The pandemic has had a significant impact on their social relationships. Many Gen Z started to work during lockdowns, and they went from studying to working from home without any transition. They couldn’t have an in-person onboarding, meet their new colleagues, and have the experience of the first days in the office. Therefore, working fully remotely is not something they cherish, nor is a traditional schedule with employees going to the office daily. The best option for this generation is to offer flexible work arrangements such as a hybrid work model and flexitime.
In comparison to Millennials, Gen Z values a safe income much more. This generation is sometimes called “the generation that wants it all”, which is not necessarily bad. They still aspire to have a job with purpose and create a better world like the previous generation. But financial stability and security are also crucial for them. Witnessing their parents struggle during the Great Recession has undoubtedly shaped their relationship with money. Consequently, a fair and stable income is a major aspect of attracting job applicants and retaining young employees.
As for Millennials, work-life balance is a top priority for Gen Z. However, they are also people who are hard-working and put much pressure on their shoulders. This often interferes with their wish for a good equilibrium between personal and professional life. One of the reasons is here again the fact that most of them entered the world of work during lockdowns. Starting to work remotely made them feel they had to prove themselves even more. As an employer, allowing flexible work is essential to help them reach a better work-life balance and remain physically and mentally healthy.
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Sustainable initiatives in the office
Most of us have come across images of young people skipping school to attend the Friday for Future strikes initiated by Greta Thunberg in 2018. This is because Gen Z is trying to be more sustainably conscious and is very active on this topic (source: World Economic Forum). They inherit climate change issues and are the first generation to experience the consequences of global warming. At home, like at work, many of them want to act more sustainability. They value organizations that encourage sustainability in the office and tend to apply more for jobs that enable them to impact the planet positively. Accordingly, ESG initiatives are a big topic to focus on to meet the expectations of this new generation of workers.
Although Zoomers share some similarities with Millennials, like their desire to have a purpose in ESG and DEI matters, Gen Z’s characteristics are very specific. Having people from multiple generations is an advantage for companies. Keeping all of them happy and satisfied with their work is fundamental. But how do you handle all these different expectations? Employee centricity and flexibility are key. These two core pillars will help you understand your workforce better, including what Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z are known for.
Do you need some support implementing these two aspects in your workplace? Request a free demo of the deskbird app to discover how we can help you set up and manage a hybrid work model that answers your workers’ requirements!
Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.