The 2015 Workforce: Generation Z

young people gen zThe workforce of 2015 is more culturally, gender and age diverse than ever before. With many businesses now employing around four generations of workers, it is important to cater to many expectations.

Fresh faced Millennial’s are working alongside soon to retire Baby Boomers. By understanding what motivates your employees, you hold the key to providing a work environment and suitable benefits which are of most interest to your workforce.

In this four part series, we’ve explored each generation populating the workforce. What makes them tick? Understand their youth, their working lives and how to motivate and communicate with them.


Generation Z 1996- onwards

Children of the (digital) revolution

There may have been a time before the internet, but Generation Z doesn’t remember it. By the late 90’s the internet was already an established entity, the powerhouses of the World Wide Web such as Google, Amazon and Ebay were well past infancy by the time this generation started school.

Needless to say, this had a profound effect on what Generation Z would come to expect in terms of instant availability. Their older siblings and parents may have been slower to adapt to this fast speed change in pace, but to the young Gen Z it came naturally.Gen y tablets and phones

As they reached their teenage years social media and smart technology both in the home and as handheld devices had really become part of everyday life. Thanks to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, communication channels had never been faster. This paved the way for news and information outlets to deliver stories in real time, making this generation one of the best informed.

However, more than anything Generation Z grew up in a turbulent period. Political unrest, financial instability and frequent acts of terrorism; and witnessing the effect it had on their parents and older siblings, quickly taught this generation that nothing should be taken for granted, making them some of the best money savers, and the most self aware.



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The workplace of tomorrow

Having only entered the workplace in the last three years, Generation Z haven’t yet had the chance to reveal specifics of their work habits. However, there are a few things we know for sure. Generation Z are more than comfortable with any and all forms of technology, and would likely struggle if they were placed in an environment where connecting to the internet through their smart phone or device wasn’t an option.

They understand the dangers of the internet and so easily adhere to company data protection policies without a second thought. This generation are not easily fooled by advertising and look to their trusted sources when enquiring about brands or products. The same goes for jobs, with 72% trusting their friends and family’s opinions over other sources; honesty really is the best policy with this generation.

The most prolific trait of this generation is their wanting to make a positive change to the world – leaving it in a better state than they entered it. In fact over 80% of Generation Z wants to work for a company that cares about its impact.

This Generation appreciate the value of their education and are self-directed, interested in entrepreneurship and have high hopes to work for a purpose, not just a pay check. Understanding their specific contribution to the workload and its overall contribution is just as important to this generation as it was to Generation Y.

Motivating Generation Z

Generation Z workers hope for opportunities to express their creativity and their skills. Career development opportunities, which are company funded, are sure to be a big hit, as having a well rounded CV is of high importance. More than any generation before, they understand the positive influence of respect and tolerance across all aspects of the workplace and are firm believers in out of work socialisation with their colleagues.

Cropped shot of two businessmen discussing information on a digital tabletReward and recognition schemes which focus on a social element, such as peer to peer recognition, team lunches, experience days and personal thank you’s go down very well with this group. Despite their young age, money saving schemes are also of great importance and any employee benefit which can incorporate this, such as a cashback card, a pension scheme or a money off would be happily received by these savvy savers.

As they are still relatively new to the workforce, it’s a good idea to consider if a mentoring scheme would be right for your employees, as Generation Z are very kinaesthetic learners. By seeing someone do something (such as using a smart phone with a series of swipes) and then having a go themselves, they quickly pick up tasks by ‘doing’. However, it is wise to consider the mentor you set up with your Generation Z employee, as in most instances the partnership will work better if they are close in age for two reasons;

  1. Generation Z respond well to a friendship dynamic, more than a teacher and student one, which is easier to achieve if the mentor and mentee are closer to each other in age, digital understanding and have similar interests.
  2. Generally, pairing Generation Z with a Baby Boomer or even a more conservative Generation X may lead to serious conflicts in opinions across a variety of social issues which may translate into a bad working relationship. Of course this is not always the case.


Make way for the future!

Considering how much the workplace has changed already since the start of the 21st century, it is difficult to imagine what the office of the future might look like. Of course there will be further technological advances and no doubt our working lives will be influenced by what these changes bring, but there will also be a change of attitudes and desires to accompany this. Generation Z want’s security and stability, but also want change and progress, which makes for an interesting mix.

The late 2010’s herald a real ‘changing of the guard’ feel, as many Baby Boomers retire and make way for the next generation. Traditional job titles and professions may face somewhat of a decline, but with that comes a wave of new jobs emerging from the digital revolution which rely on the technology of tomorrow.

Once they have had more time to establish themselves in the workplace, Generation Z are likely to have the biggest impact on how we work. And with more than 25% of the workforce set to be Generation Y or Z by 2025, it looks like we won’t have long to wait to find out.


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John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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