As more and more Generation Z employees enter the workforce, employers may be concerned about adapting their workplace -- or, worse, may be wary to hire them altogether. However, Randstand’s July report of 4,066 respondents, Managing Gen Y and Z in the Workplace, found that Generation Z employees aren’t much different from millennials in terms of what they want and expect from a workplace.
Employers are placing a higher emphasis on workplace culture and fear that Generation Z candidates (born between the mid-1990s and the 2010s) will have a completely different mindset from that of their coworkers. Organizations, in fact, may be surprised to find Generation Z is full of quality hires they want on their team. They just have to stop believing the myths out there:
Myth 1: They’re bad at face-to-face interaction.
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Employers see young people constantly using mobile devices and fear that this has harmed their ability to communicate in person. They worry this addiction will carry over into the workplace and has stunted their growth to the point where they don't know how to interact face-to-face.
Fact: Almost everyone in every generation is glued to technology -- and Gen Z actually finds too much technology distracting. They especially love to communicate in person about all other forms of communication. Millennial Branding’s Gen Y and Gen Z Global Workplace Expectations Study in April 2014 surveyed 1,005 Gen Z respondents and found that 53 percent preferred face-to-face communications.
Takeaway: Organizations concerned about interaction skills should attack the issue head-on. Bring candidates in for an in-person interview to truly gauge how their face-to-face communication skills rank. Gather an interview panel of a few personalities to see how well this interaction holds up in a group situation.
Myth 2: They demand new/trendy office environments.
With the new generation in mind, companies discount future prospects as they look around their traditional office spaces. After hearing stories of outdoor lounge areas, onsite baristas and break-room ping-pong tables, they wonder if Gen Z would fit well with an office that lacks such flashy perks.
Fact: These young people have bigger and better things on their minds. Beyond all office perks, they’re looking for flexibility, quality in-person communication, and coworkers who will inspire their best work. According to the above Randstad survey, 41 percent of Gen Z said they hoped to work in a corporate office space.
Takeaway: Organizations should step away from the ping pong table -- the younger generation is not here for that. Try easing Gen Z employees into the office setting. Internship programs are a great way to start training them, allowing them to dip their toes into the workforce waters before things really take off.
Related: Are You Ready for Gen Z?
Myth 3: Managers can’t give feedback because Gen Z members are too sensitive.
Leaders look at these “kids,” thinking they have been trained to believe everyone's a winner and receives trophies at the end of the day. Those leaders feel that there’s just no room for this belief system in the workplace -- where negative feedback sometimes needs to be shared so employees can grow within their positions.
Fact: We do need to share critical feedback with employees, and Generation Z's members will be the first to agree. Millennial Branding asked participants about important leadership qualities, and over half said honesty is the best policy.
Takeaway: Since this generation values both face-to-face interaction and feedback, it’s best to approach them in a one-on-one meeting style. Gen Z likes to be highly involved in team situations, so it’s no surprise that they'll likely perform at their best when relationships are formed. Don’t be afraid to let them know where improvements can still be made -- and when they’re excelling.
Myth 4: Their passion is the only thing they care about.
Young people place a lot of emphasis on their passions -- too much so for some business leaders' taste. Organizations think this will lead Gen Z employees to hop from job to job until the one matching their exact passion comes along.
Fact: Being passionate about the workplace is important, but it isn’t at the top of the list for Gen Z employees. The March 2015 Way to Work Survey of 1,001 students by Adecco found that 79 percent of college students surveyed were highly concerned about securing a job in their future, making it no surprise that they prioritize job security over passion.
Takeaway: Let Gen Z employees know you see a future for them at your company by having a simple project idea box. At the end of each month, pick an idea from the box, and let the creator be the lead for the project. Nothing says job stability like, “I trust you to be in charge.”
Myth 5: Gen Z is just too young.
Many think Generation Z is still too young and immature for the workforce -- and that they’ll never fit in with the organization’s workplace culture.
Fact: Older members of Gen Z are entering their 20s. They want to enter the workforce, starting now. So, how do you find these fresh-out-of-school candidates?
Takeaway: Co-op stints with colleges and universities can provide organizations with opportunities to prepare Gen Z to work in an office environment.
There are also invaluable online tools where companies can find quality Gen Z candidates. For example, The Chemistry Group can alter job search preferences to match the type of candidate managers are seeking. This will help companies set their sights on Gen Z candidates who will best match their workplace culture and goals.