De-mystifying Gen Z
For those born after 1995, technology is something that grew up alongside them; changes and innovations in smartphones and social media were no stranger than other biological changes of adolescence. This group of humans, also known as Gen Z, is the first group intrinsically equipped to use technology in the workplace, making many of them skilled in data analytics, problem solving, and quick thinking.
I’m a junior in college, halfway through my summer internship here at Workhuman®. I’m also a member of Gen Z, and let me tell you, the idea of joining the workforce is scary. But as it turns out, we are scary, too! Employers have no idea what this new generation is looking for in a career, but they do know that they better figure it out before someone else does. Forbes, EY, and Dell Technologies are all prepping for the arrival of Gen Z, and other businesses will soon follow their lead.
Some people might not buy into the idea that employers should change their way of doing things to make future employees happy. After all, companies pay employees, right? But with unemployment near an all-time low, the job market is more competitive than ever before, and employers are ready to fight for top talent and figure out what makes Gen Z tick.
In researching the generational divide, I came across the book, “Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation is Transforming the Workplace,” written by father-son duo David and Jonah Stillman. David has studied the effects of generational differences on the workplace for his whole life, and his Gen Z son, Jonah, quickly followed in his footsteps. Their research covers seven characteristics that describe Gen Z’s motivations, inspirations, and work styles, and how companies should embrace them. The seven characteristics are:
For this post, I want to focus on Phigital, Realistic, DIY, and Driven, as these words best describe my experiences so far in the workplace.
The Phigital world is described in the book as “a new world where, because of rapid advances in technology, the barriers between physical and digital have been eliminated.” According to research conducted by the Stillmans, 91% of Gen Z job seekers will take a company’s technological sophistication into account before accepting a position. In a time where tech is only continuing to advance, it is important that employers use these skills we have adopted to their advantage. Is your organization embracing the Phigital world? How would your company’s tech savviness stack up to competitors?
To describe the difference between millennials and Gen Z, Jonah writes, “where millennials experienced a time of prosperity and opportunity during their teen years, my generation has grown up in a time of recession, terrorism, violence, volatility, chaos, and uncertainty.” Gen Z is realistic. We’re hyperaware of issues like climate change, discrimination, and corrupt politics, and we’re ready to make a difference. When searching for a prospective employer, I‘m just as interested in a company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility as the product it sells. Gen Z is looking for employers who are willing to work hard to make a positive difference when it comes to issues like diversity and inclusion, renewable and clean energy, and gender equality.
DIY and Driven
With Google on our side, most information can be obtained in a matter of seconds. I have always felt confident taking on a new project without needing constant guidance. My generation is not afraid to take on the unknown. We want to be given responsibility, despite our age. One of the most rewarding aspects of my internship experience at Workhuman has been the fact that my manager treats me like an equal, rather than a “typical” intern. My friends are always shocked to find out that yes, I get coffee, but only for myself. Yes, I take notes during meetings, but for my own use, not as a scribe for my manager. My thoughts, opinions, and analyses are respected and listened to, even though I am still in college.
As I look back on the first half of my summer internship at Workhuman, I am met with feelings of pride and excitement. I have already learned so much, and I am even more excited to know that the company may be learning something from me and my fellow interns as well.
About the Author
Employee Experience, HR Leader, Talent Acquisition Leader