Saved by Generation Z

There’s a new kid on the block going by Generation Z. In just five years, this generation – currently toddlers to adolescents – will be the fastest-growing and most influential group in the job market.

Born into an age of intense innovation and change, and having never experienced a time before the Internet or cell phones, this digitally-savvy generation sees the world as a fluid network of remotely accessible and widely connected information. They’re accustomed to immediate answers and are not scared by a bit of online research. Check out the list below to get the inside scoop on your future workforce.

At a maximum age of 21 (born 1996), many of Generation Z’s characteristics are yet to be revealed. Here’s what we do know:

1. Mega-focused – The next wave of workers are dedicated, driven, and enthusiastic. Perhaps in an unconscious effort to distance themselves from their predecessors, Gen Z takes nothing for granted. They’re grateful for their jobs and intend to keep them.

2. Built to impress – And how better to keep your job than to impress your boss? This generation thrives off immediate and constant feedback. They’ve grown up in a time defined by the internet (see below), and expect to know how they’re measuring up every step of the way. The result? They’re always asking where they can improve and seeking to meet or exceed your expectations.

3. Digitally-savvy – They were born with a computer in their lap and a cell phone in their hand. This means Gen Z’ers are constantly connected and expect a certain level of accessibility and synchronicity in all aspects of their lives, from social to professional. Notably, they don’t shy away from learning complex systems and researching involved concepts on the web – it’s basically just an unseen extension of themselves.

4. Social media driven – Remember, Gen Z experiences the world as fully integrated. Their life is a constant flow of photos, videos, information, and knowledge, broadly transmitted through the internet and specifically through social media outlets. Don’t try to ban personal calls or cell phones in the office if you want your workers to stick around. On the plus side, Gen Z is notoriously private, so you won’t have to worry about them tarnishing the company’s image with inappropriate photos or comments.

5. Self-aware and self-sufficient – They’re not scared to ask for help – and definitely value constructive feedback – but you can count on your newest workforce to be fiercely independent and pointedly reflective. They are always seeking to improve, both internally and externally, and are willing to put in the work to do it.    

6. Highly educated – According to the data, a “larger percentage of Gen Z will attend and graduate from college than any previous generation.” They’re going to be taking the skilled labor market by storm; Gen Z is driven and enthusiastic, and they have the academic background necessary to succeed. Ideally, you should target these candidates straight out of school and nurture their skills within your company as they grow. They are especially loyal and will likely reward your support with a long, productive career.

7. Risk averse – This one may come as a surprise: Generation Z is surprisingly conservative when it comes to career choices. Raised by helicopter parents, they lean somewhat traditional. While Millennials bounce from job to job, Gen Z’ers prioritize stability. They’re still interested in flexible work benefits and wellness packages, but they’re most concerned with 401ks and health plans. Act accordingly!

What you can expect from Generation Z is a big change from their millennial predecessors – they are an intensely positive, driven, and sensible group of digitally-aware, self-reliant workers.

Among their most defining characteristics is an uncanny ability to read and navigate difficult situations by making creative use of online resources. Perhaps due to growing up during the 2008 Recession, this generation is practical and realistic in their career goals, and value security over traditionally “youthful” benefits. In managing generational diversity in the coming years, you can anticipate a truly encouraging shift in workplace focus and culture.