Generation Z. They are the first generation to know only a digital world. They grew up playing on their parents’ mobile devices, and many had their own Smartphone as early as elementary school. Millennials might have been the youngest generation to navigate their way through mobile technology, but Gen Z grew up with the mobile experience woven into their fabric. In fact, what is known as digital communication for some (like Generation X and Baby Boomers) is simply communication for Gen Z. Now, with the oldest of Gen Z on the brink of graduating college and entering the job market, many are wondering how these digital natives will impact our workforce.
Rough times followed the tragedy of 9/11. Many people experienced depression from losing a loved one or the fear of more attacks. Others felt the impact of financial loss as a direct result of the economy tanking after 9/11. As a direct consequence to 9/11, the United States retaliated, with an ongoing war that still continues today. Generation Z cannot personally recall a time before global conflict because their whole lives have been plagued with the recurring use of terms such as terrorist attacks, weapons of mass destruction, economic downturn, and mass shooting. Add to the mix two financial collapses, and you have the perfect storm that forced a generation to grow up too soon.
Although too young to fully process the world around them, Generation Z sensed the negativity and angst amongst their families. The events and global impacts surrounding Generation Z caused them to have realistic expectations of themselves and others. This is not to say they are a negative generation; they are simply realistic. Generation Z understands the value of hard work and does not expect to have trophies or promotions handed to them without putting in the effort.
According to an article in Forbes, Generation Z has “easier access to more information, people, and resources than any prior generation.” Because of this, Generation Z not only has more interest in entrepreneurship, they also have a “better chance of succeeding as an entrepreneur because they will have the advantage of ‘easier access’ earlier in life.” Growing up with the time-saving information highway just a click away gave Generation Z (and all future generations) the luxury to have a few setbacks in their careers, while still having the opportunity to try again.
Generation Z’s lifelong exposure to mobile technology makes them “digital natives.” They communicate primarily through digital tools which afford them the opportunity to reach anyone in the world at any time of day. This level of global connectivity means they are acclimated to being “turned on” 24/7. This, in addition to having access to so many resources early in life, has given Generation Z an independence not seen in previous generations, and found in most entrepreneurs today.
When surveyed, 32% of Generation Z respondents said autonomy was one of their most important career goals compared to only 22% of Millennials. It’s important to consider that Generation Z is still young. Their lack of experience in an actual workforce may account for some of their responses, but in general, they are more independent than previous generations. Those that can’t or don’t want to start their own business will ultimately be looking for positions that feel entrepreneurial in nature and will allow for autonomy and remote connectivity.
They’re Community Oriented
As a generation already known as “philanthroteens,” employers need to take into account Generation Z’s future social contributions and how this could impact professional environments. This generation feels more connected to people in other countries because they have always had direct access to communicate with them whenever they want. Given the growing number of retail options involving moral decisions, Generation Z chooses to purchase products from charitable organizations, such as TOMS and Warby Parker, to help others in need. Their lives have been overshadowed by terrorism and poor economies, but their abilities to communicate globally and easily take action will set them apart from previous generations.
It is no longer enough for organizations to solely focus on profits. Companies that recognize the importance of goodwill, outreach and follow through will attract the top talent of this up-and-coming generation. Transparency will be an absolute.
How to Use this Information
As a national provider of retained executive recruitment services, our team at Executives Unlimited is constantly following the trends of all generations. We can help you identify, recruit and retain your next leader. We can also help you transform the way you retain talent. For information about our services, please call us at (866) 957-4466 or contact us online today.