Gen Z entering the job market

We just finished complaining about millennials, and now a new generation has grown up and they are ready to actively shape the job market. Gen Z, the “TikTok generation” will become the biggest working age group in just a couple years, and companies need to be ready for their concept of a dream job, because this generation arrives with completely different skillsets and expectations.

Generation Z is the age cohort consisting of those who were born between 1995 and 2010. They are the youngest generation on the job market, coming after Gen Y (1981-1995), Gen X (1965-1980) and baby boomers (1946-1964). To describe their future, if not current impact on the job market, just consider the extent of this young generation: Bloomberg’s analysis of United Nations data states that in 2019, members of Generation Z reached 2.47 billion (32%) of the total population of Earth, surpassing the Millennials of 2.43 billion.

What are the main characteristics of Gen Z?

They are the true digital natives: they didn’t have to deal with the dial-up internet as some of the millennials, they were given smart gadgets, and they were given them early. This makes them the most digitally competent generation, who is used to instant round the clock access, fast solutions and instant gratification.

This also makes them less keen for traditional education forms, and prefer alternative sources, such as videos. Gen Z won’t go out of their way to obtain lexical knowledge, they can find anything on the internet, and this results in reduced attention span.

They are finishing university – although this generation is willing to devote the least time, 2-3 years to tertiary education – or they are fresh on the job market, however many of them still live with their parents to save up.

In contrary to their parents, they don’t feel the need to stick around at a job for too long and they are not willing to sacrifice their life for their employer: they seek a healthier work-life balance than previous generations and look for opportunities to do and live off of what they enjoy. They are also less loyal and switch between jobs much easier and earlier: they usually don’t have kids yet and some are able to live with parents, two factors which grant more freedom at changing workplaces.

Gen Z also needs feedback and validation: being the newcomers in jobs, they aren’t always sure if what they do is right, and they see this as a two-way channel.  They expect to be included in company decision-making and they are eager to give feedback on their boss’s work too.

What do they expect of workplaces?

Their main expectation of workplaces is to provide creative challenges and an opportunity for self-expression. Gen Z would like to see themselves in the work they do, and they prefer to be given space when working. They also prefer flexible working hours and home office opportunity – not independently from the recent changes in employment due the pandemic. Nevertheless, they need aesthetically pleasing workspaces: they expect their office to be trendy, up-to-date in interior design.

One of the most motivating aspects is money: they want to get paid well, and their base salary is more important than other benefits, e.g. health insurance or travel contribution. However, one stable income source is not a must: they would even prefer multiple temporary jobs that suit them better over the constraints of one position. Recognition should be given in financial, but also verbal and universal forms: they look for advancement in their jobs, which often includes further training provided by the company.

Authenticity is a core quality: they need to see company values align with their own, organizations can’t paint tempting facades, if they can’t deliver, because Gen Z demands sincerity. They also urge brands to take stance in social and environmental matters and requires them to “ruthlessly pursue the goal of equity, diversity and inclusion within the workplace.”

How can workplaces meet these expectations?

Slowly outnumbering baby boomers on the market, the employment of Gen Z requires companies to change their own values, communication – employer branding. They call for authenticity and transparency with explicit values in regard to social matters, which can have a radical impact on employer branding in the near future.

Companies might have to reconsider their salary and benefit packages as Gen Z values added benefits less, than a hefty paycheck. Their expectation of high salary might be a result of their lack of experience: Millennials were often associated with unrealistic job expectations, labelled by instantly wanting to become CEOs with all the money, which of course didn’t happen, so gaining some work experience might serve as a reality check for Gen Z as well. Being able to move up the ladder is an important aspect though, they look for further training and career advancement.

Working independently and creatively might sound similar in this context. Entry level positions require training, one can only work independently, if they know how to. But the explicit need from Gen Z to be able to express themselves in their daily work must be taken into consideration by companies on the long run.

An appealing office and overall pleasant work environment can contribute to their loyalty, but companies cannot really count on this: their main challenge will be how to integrate young colleagues into the organisation with such a high fluctuation rate.

Gen Z employees need to be given, but also give constant feedback. They tend to deal less ideally with authoritative leadership, a more open, inclusive, and symmetrical approach is much more appreciated and beneficial for both parties.

All in all, Generation Z has some fairly common expectations about their careers: they want to progress professionally, they want their work to be paid while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Changes in job circumstances due to the coronavirus, such as flexible working hours and home office are basic requirements, but employers need to adjust in other areas as well for Gen Z to be content employees.

The company image must be more authentic than ever, with explicitly expressed values in standing by social causes. Gen Z craves stimulant and creative work, and they are not afraid to switch for it: companies must learn to integrate a generation, who is ready to break out of conventional positions for the sake of self-actualization.

As advertising agencies, can we be prepared for Gen Z? Some features of the agency life, such as creative work and contract employment cab be appealing to the younger generation, but other aspects of the difference in mindsets might pose a challenge to agency leaders. Are we ready?

 

Sources:

Kvalitatív kutatási eredmények a Z generáció körében-milyen karrierről álmodnak, milyen munkahelyen dolgoznának szívesen a „Z”-k

Employer Branding a Z generáció szemével – Milyen munkahelyre vágynak és milyen szempontok alapján döntenek a munkahelyválasztásról a ”Z-k”

„Z” generáció fő jellemzői és a várható munkaerő-piaci kihívások

Az Y és Z generáció munkahelyválasztásának szempotjai

Hogyan tudja egy KKV kielégíteni a Z generáció munkavállalói elvárásait?

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