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Generation Z is Coming to the Workforce: Are You Prepared?

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If you hire entry-level workers, then you’ve likely already found yourself grappling to understand the new generation to hit the workforce. Generation Z accounts for 61 million people in the United States, significantly larger than Generation X. Born after 1996, this group is now entering the workforce and driving managers to seek new ways of attracting, training and retaining recruits.

Generation Z is coming to your workplace with a reputation for being socially inexperienced, having spent their entire life connected virtually. Add to this being new to the workforce, there will be lots of training required. But this generation also has a number of characteristics that will help them achieve big things in the workplace.

With the right policies in place, you can attract this new group of recruits to your front line and  leverage their insight to drive company-wide improvements.

1. They turn to influencers for insight

Generation Z is made up of digital natives. According to research from The Center for Generational Kinetics, 95% of this group has a smartphone, including the youngest members at age 13. And more than half of these youths are on their smartphone 5 or more hours each day. The vast majority of this time is spent on social media. Because of their comfort with social media, this generation typically turns to digital influencers before making many decisions. In fact, this group is often highly skeptical of traditional means of marketing (think about how you’re selling your company on your Careers webpage). They prefer to find answers from YouTube personalities.

However, Gen Z starts their job search with the influencers closest to them: friends and family. Nearly 60% of Gen Z reported in the State of Gen Z 2018 that they were likely to ask friends or family about job openings. An additional 57% reported starting with someone they know who already works at the desired company.

2. They want to see your culture in action

If you’re putting all of your attention into LinkedIn or Glassdoor recruiting, it’s time to branch out to Generation Z’s favorite destination: YouTube. As the Center reports, YouTube is the first stop for 40% of surveyed Gen Z youths who want to learn more about a potential employer, followed by Instagram (37%), Facebook (36%) and Snapchat (36%). Have you Snapped lately?

Employers seeking to hire this group of entry-level talent need to consider going into platforms once considered outside of online job recruiting.

3. They want to apply NOW

No surprise, the social media generation is all about immediacy. As it turns out, that needs to be reflected in your job application process. The majority of Gen Z (60%) expects to be able to complete the process in less than 15 minutes.

Companies struggling to fill positions might consider making it even shorter, the Center suggests. Consider a form where applicants simply express interest in a job, then follow-up later with more detailed information.

4. They need feedback

You already have learned that communication and connection is important to this generation. But the importance of communication also extends to the jobsite. You know that annual performance review you have in place? Think about supporting it with daily performance feedback.

That’s right, the Center’s study indicates that Gen Z wants feedback from a supervisor at least every few weeks simply to stay with an employer (less than half of those demanding Millennials report needing this same level of communication). Twenty percent of Gen Z expects feedback daily or several times each day in order to stay with an employer. While this might seem challenging at first, it’s also an opportunity. Of course, continuous opportunities for feedback provides opportunities for continuous improvement. With two minutes of daily input, you might be able to boost their performance and eliminate those time-dragging monthly meetings.

5. They know the value of hard work

Growing up during the Great Recession helped define this generation. Many had parents who lost their jobs or older Millennial siblings who returned home from college without hope of employment. As a result, this generation is very financially minded and oriented. And according to the Center’s research, many members of Gen Z just hitting the workforce already have extensive work experience behind them. Nearly a quarter of Gen Z is working a part-time job, 23% does odd jobs and other short-term work, and 22% earns allowance with chores and other responsibilities. And many members of this technology-savvy group have already dabbled in an online business.

This group isn’t going to shy away from hard work. But they will demand to be engaged — and that’s a great thing for companies that already see employee engagement as a driving force for continuous improvement.

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