Working World May Change Thanks to Generation Z, Study Reveals

HR needs to prepare for these employees, who blend old-school values with digital-native expectations

By Aliah D. Wright Sep 1, 2016
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​Get ready, HR: Not only is Generation Z entering the workforce, it may change the way work gets done.

This according to a new survey report from global job board Monster, which reveals, among many other things, that innovations in digital communications and the ability to always be connected may change how everyone works.

That's because members of Generation Z, now no older than 20, believe that technology allows them to be more productive (57 percent) and mobile (45 percent). Thirty-nine percent see smartphones as essential, and 37 percent rely on laptops over desktops—more than any other generation, according to Move Over, Millennials: What You'll Need to Know for Hiring as Gen Z Enters the Workforce.

The study was released Aug. 30.

These "true digital natives" will expect to have access to digital tools that will enable them "to be 'always on' while determining their own schedules, creating tailor-made paths to their personal version of success," the survey report states.

The findings from this inaugural multigenerational survey of the Baby Boomer, X, Y and Z generations uncover what makes Generation Z unique and how employers can attract, retain and engage these valuable employees, according to a release from Monster.

True Digital Natives

Generation Z is the first generation "to have ubiquitous Internet technology at their fingertips since birth," the survey states. And "that they don't merely think outside the box—they throw it away entirely."

These young professionals—"born between 1996 and 2010—will be attracted to careers that have both purpose and pragmatism. And yet they're more altruistic than the workforce before them: 74 percent of Gen Z believes jobs should have a greater meaning than just bringing home the bacon, compared to 69 percent of those in older generations," according to a release.

"We're seeing drastic differences between what drives employees in Gen Z compared to previous generations like Millennials," said Seth Matheson, director of Talent Fusion by Monster, a team of in-house recruiters who work on behalf of customers.

"At this stage in the recruiting game, employers looking to attract future talent need to expand their focus beyond Millennials to understand the next generation's unique, practical job must-haves, and proactively develop a working environment that will keep them happy and motivated."

As SHRM Online reported earlier this year, "when you come of age never remembering a time before smartphones—which is true for all Gen Zers in the U.S.—it fundamentally changes your learning, communication and workplace expectations," said Jason Dorsey, co-founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics in Austin, Texas.

"This generation has always gone to their phone first to find an answer to a question, learn a new skill, apply for a job or connect with friends," said Dorsey, an expert on Generation Z and Millennials.

"They will never remember a time when that wasn't an option. This means that as Gen Z enters the workforce," he continued, "they expect everything to be mobile first, from communication and collaboration to training, retention and engagement strategies."

HR will have to adjust again, experts say.

"As I talk to many employers, the focus is still on Millennials—with a lot of questions about perks like nap pods and free lunches," Matheson said. However, "employers can expect Gen Z to make a positive impact on the future of their companies—if they start proactively preparing for them now."

The study was based on interviews with more than 2,000 members of the Baby Boomer, X, Y and Z generations. 

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