It’s likely that Generation Z already shops for your products and knows all about your industry. Although the oldest among them have just reached the mid-20s mark, they enjoy tremendous spending power: According to a deep-dive report from Millennial Marketing, Gen Z boosts the economy by up to $143 billion.
But don’t just think of Gen Z as consumers — think of them as a group of valuable workers who bring something new to the table. Gen Zers are growing older, which means they’re poised to flood the job market with applications in the near future. As a business leader, you know that this generation’s fresh perspective makes them incredibly useful to your business. And no business can afford not to have outside-the-box thinkers on its payroll.
What’s so special about this generation, though? The most important thing to consider here is that they’ve grown up much differently from you and me. Rather than being merely familiar with technology, they’re tech natives. They spent their entire childhood learning the rules of a never-before-seen version of human engagement — one that has drastically changed the way people relate to one another. They also have the amazing ability to use resources such as the internet to find creative solutions. With smartphones in hand and an ever-evolving digital sphere at their fingertips, Gen Zers are constantly learning. They effortlessly self-direct and can navigate complex problems with a few quick swipes.
This remarkable generation of incoming employees can help you navigate an economy increasingly made up of consumers from their cadre. But you have to understand what makes them tick in order to reap the returns. If your company isn’t aligned with Gen Z’s preferences, you won’t attract the workers who can help champion your company and drive it in new directions.
How Generation Z’s Preferences Can Freshen Up Your Workplace
Most business leaders understand that Generation Z employees will be different from their Millennial counterparts. However, many business leaders haven’t fully accepted that Gen Z will transform everything from management to marketing. And make no mistake: This generation is already in the process of doing so.
Generation Z works best with a different style of leadership and supervision. Those among this generation are fiercely independent: They’re one of the first groups to challenge the “sage on the stage” learning environment, which means these young people seek creative solutions and improve their abilities with desire, aptitude and 24/7 internet access. And although this generation moves quickly, its members still need praise and direction. The best leaders know when and how to encourage, motivate and coach them.
When Gen Zers want to know something, they’ll instinctively look it up rather than ask for assistance. Yes, they want and need to be coached — but not in the same way as other workers. After all, they can figure out how to complete a task by watching a YouTube video in less time than it takes to have sit-down chat with their supervisor. And that’s only their most obvious superpower.
Another is the way they willingly share the secret sauce to getting their peers’ attention. Let’s consider email marketing, which still has a strong foothold among marketers. This tactic doesn’t work as well with Gen Zers, as they place little value on that form of communication. Instead, they look to friends and social influencers to help them make buying decisions. Gen Z employees can share their generation’s preferences and uncover the areas of your business — whether it’s in sales, marketing, product design, or recruiting — that could benefit from fresher branding approaches.
The simplest way for your company to gain favor among Gen Z purchasers is to hire Gen Z employees. Having Gen Zers present in the office is like having inside information about how their demographic buys, sells, and trades. Additionally, these workers’ tech chops often mean they’re naturally more up-to-date with the latest applications and communication tools compared to older generations. That’s a magical combination of benefits and a great reason to spend time figuring out how to get Gen Z workers on your roster.
Reaping the Financial Reward of Connected Employees
We know that Generation Z is the most connected generation in history — and that it also consumes an unprecedented amount of curated content daily. Per GlobalWebIndex’s findings, nearly all Gen Zers own smartphones, and they stay on them for over three and a half hours each day. To put this in perspective, that’s nearly an hour more than your typical internet user.
As an employer and business leader, the best way to bring Gen Zers into your fold is to woo them with well-placed, strategically disseminated content and stories. Whether you’re at the helm of a startup, are in a leadership position at an enterprise, or fit somewhere in between, incorporate these four tips into your strategy to enjoy the benefits that Gen Z workers can provide:
1. Grab Gen Z’s attention on social media.
Gen Zers live on social and digital media, so recruiting them using their favorite platforms makes the most sense. You might already be doing this to get them to buy your products or services, but it’s also crucial for your employer branding to regularly weigh your understanding of how Generation Z uses platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and other social outlets. Each platform has its own unspoken guidelines and sharing rules, and getting a handle on each will help you adapt your messaging appropriately.
To earn your rep as a great place for Gen Zers to work, you have to speak authentically.
When you share your stories on social media, make sure they have a human element. Tempt Generation Z with tidbits of information about your company — think the CEO’s background, employees’ histories or a look into a typical workday at your organization. Over time, Gen Z customers will remember your name, even above all of the digital clutter they see on a daily basis. They’ll also begin to get a sense of your company culture.
2. Expose Gen Z to your culture continuously.
Once you have Gen Zers’ attention, keep feeding them bits of knowledge about your business atmosphere and mission in action. That way, when Generation Z employees come into your workforce, they will already have a baseline understanding of what to do and how to behave in your organization. Known but unspoken culture replaces many written rules. A strong sense of company culture, for instance, determines whether an employee will walk by a piece of scrap paper on the ground or pick it up and drop it in the recycling bin a few feet away.
The more job applicants already know about these established yet unvoiced expectations, the more money you’ll save on training them. Ideally, new hires who are in tune with your culture will continue to save you money by sticking around for longer. After all, they’ve chosen to work for you just as much as you’ve chosen them to fill positions. Determined, aligned applicants are usually linked to a higher return on investment, too.
3. Take advantage of Generation Z’s interest in influencers.
Want to learn another secret for getting Gen Zers to not only purchase your offerings, but also become part of the team? Use established Generation Z influencers to talk to this audience. For example, the Gen Z employees who already work for you could tout their positive experiences at your company on social media.
As employers, we’ve only begun to tap into influencers as would-be recruiters. Really, it’s a natural fit. Thanks to noise-free, curated entertainment made possible by paywalls, the members of Generation Z have become accustomed to tuning out ads. But you can still reach them through influencers who can get past gatekeepers by being transparent and genuinely excited.
4. Interview, hire, and train Generation Z in fresh ways.
Let’s say you get several top Gen Z job hunters excited about your organization. Congratulations! You can now choose from several candidates. Don’t rely on the same interviewing processes that you used for Generation X or Millennials, though, and make sure your communication fits the cultural expectations of your young applicants. Video interviews are a natural choice for the YouTube generation, while mobile job apps have become essential tools for reaching Gen Z candidates.
After hiring the most promising workers, treat your Generation Z newbies like the mini-CEOs they’ve identified as since grade school. Give them projects and provide them with the headspace to be innovative (within certain parameters, of course).
Besides assisting these new employees, though, you’ll also need to help other generations become accustomed to working with Gen Zers, and vice versa. To establish a harmonious, effective, and respectful work environment, each generation should understand what those outside their generation can bring to the table.
You might want to have them report directly on their projects and development to Millennial managers. Millennials might be more accustomed than Gen Xers to providing the one-on-one supervisory style Gen Z workers prefer, and they could also be seen as more desirable supervisors. As one EY study discovered, 67% of Generation Z employees prefer working under Millennial managers.
Hiring Gen Zers provides incredible opportunities for your company to make quantum leaps when it comes to connecting with a growing customer base and building a loyal workforce. Gen Z workers don’t just speak to their equals to earn you more credibility and business — they’ll also transform your organization to efficiently and effectively meet society’s rapidly changing demands.
The views of the author of this article do not necessarily represent the views of Gradifi. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax or financial advisors to understand the tax, financial and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this article.