Many leaders and employers may still consider Generation Z (or ‘Gen Z’ as they are popularly known) to be the youth of Australia.
But with a birth range generally set at 1996 to 2010many are now entering the workforce.
In fact, recent McCrindle data shows that: Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025.
With that in mind, employers need to begin to understand what defines this generation. What makes them unique and different? And how can they use this to attract and retain Gen Z employees?
What is Generation Z?
Gen Z, like other generations, is determined by when they were born. However, that does not mean that there is a consensus on what those data are.
Only baby boomers have a fixed date officially designated by the US Census Bureau. It started in 1946 with the increase in the number of births after World War II and ended in 1964 with the significant decline in the birth rate.
However, if we rely on the generational distributions prepared by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), we have:
- Generation X – born between 1966 and 1980
- Millennials (or Generation Y) – born between 1981 and 1995
- Generation Z – born between 1996 and 2010
- Generation Alpha – born in 2011 and later
Each generation is characterized by different cohort-wide characteristics. Generation X, for example, known as the house key generation, because they are often the first to come home to an empty house after school. They were also the first to own a PC, making them more technologically adept than any previous generation.
But, as Stats NZ points out, generations after the baby boomers are less bound by demographics. Definitions are therefore rather abstract.
In fact, Stats NZ calls Gen X and Y “essentially marketing terms” made in the USA. However, it also refers to the same broad data as referenced in the ABS above.
What characteristics define Generation Z?
Technology is one of the first and more defining features to define Gen Z. If Generation X and Y are tech savvy, then Generation Z is a tech prodigy.
Researchers recognize that technology has been integrated into Gen Z’s life since birth. Unlike millennials, Gen Z can’t remember a time without cell phones, or when the internet wasn’t readily available.
This technology also means that they are the first true global generation – connected together at record speeds. They are likely highly educated, nearly 50 percent have college degrees, and have built an average of five careers in their lifetime (also according to McCrindle).
Finally, this generation has a strong focus on social causes, from climate change to work-life balance, which influence how they go through life, including at work.
Gen Z in ANZ
The Australian and New Zealand portion of Generation Z has all the characteristics of the wider cohort. But a study commissioned by Bauer Media shows that: they can have a distinctive approach to life.
For example, ANZ Gen Z loves being in natural places – think weekends spent hiking around the pristine waters of Lake McKenzie or the peaks of Mount Warning.
Local Gen Z’ers are also characterized as thoughtful but determined about how they want to live their lives, carefully making the choices they make to be authentic to themselves.
Gen Z will choose a smaller pay package to work for a social enterprise that feels aligned with their values, such as using Cut The Crap toilet paper or donating for free to GoFundMe and Kickstarter campaigns.
Tips for Attracting and Retaining Gen Z Employees
What does this group look for in an employer when it comes to working with Gen Z? And how can entrepreneurs make their workplace more attractive to Gen Z employees?
Here are some tips designed to help you make your workplace more attractive to this new group of employees.
Use modern, innovative and exciting technologies
Gen Z employees are true digital natives. They use the digital world in every aspect of their lives – from grocery shopping to dating. And four in five Gen Z (80 percent) want to work with advanced technology in their career.
If you want to attract and retain top Gen Z talent, make sure you provide them with tools that are efficient and engaging (this can cloud-based technologyautomation, AI-assisted processes and of course digital-first practices).
Being social conscience and values-oriented is one of the most defining characteristics of Gen Z. In fact, McCrindle found that 63 percent value the alignment of organizational culture and values much more than benefits and salary packages.
From climate change to no-kill shelters, ANZ Gen Z wants to know what your organization values and which social causes you support. To attract Gen Z employees, you need to think about how to implement green initiatives in your workplace.
Reduce, reuse and recycle — but also consider becoming a carbon neutral company.
Take a look around your workspace itself. Can you add natural light and plants? Creating a wellness or mediation space? And use environmentally friendly materials and products? These are all things that Gen Z will notice and can stand behind.
Show your support for your social causes by donating a portion of your profits to a specific cause, or consider a partnership such as MYOB’s collaboration with Smiling Mind.
Or you could introduce a corporate social responsibility program that gives employees paid time off to volunteer at a charity of their choice.
Embrace flexibility and work-life balance
The McCrindle data also shows us that flexibility and a good work-life balance are no longer negotiable. It is a requirement for the Generation Z workplace. 61 percent see a flexible work policy as an important part of their choice of employment.
Gen Z employees do not endorse the busy culture. They want to be part of companies that rely on remote working and are committed to work-life balance.
In fact, more than a quarter of Gen Z would be more committed to a company with flexible work policies, McCrindle says.
Optimize your onboarding processes
Gen Z is looking for authenticity and connection. And that also applies in the workplace.
When hiring Gen Z employees, make sure they have plenty of opportunities to connect with others on the team and in the company.
Organize one or two events that share your company values or highlight your social partners. Give them an onboarding partner who can help them through the process (especially when remote work is part of their working life).
Get your hands on new technology quickly and implement training for best practice use. Use modern training tools and media, such as videos and interactive online content.
Most importantly, Gen Z employees have a lot of time with managers to give and receive feedback. Regardless of intergenerational sensitivities, taking the time to share wisdom is a surefire strategy for success for any organization.
Do you want to be a next-gen company? Think Gen Z
Attracting and retaining Gen Z employees is an essential part of the future of work and will become increasingly important as they become a larger part of the workforce.
Understanding the unique capabilities, sensitivities and needs of this group will put you in a great position to ensure not only a strong workforce, but also that you are the type of organization they want to work for.