Boomers are dinosaurs who are overly rigid and close-minded. Gen X are cynical because they were forgotten by their parents. Millennials are lazy and have unrealistic expectations. As for Gen Z, they can’t get anywhere without the help of new technology advancements.
These are just some of the stereotypes that we associate with each generation. It’s true new technology advancements, like online GPS, have made life substantially more convenient. And ridiculing the generation after you is nothing new. The thing about stereotypes is not that they’re false – just incomplete. In the end, these generalizations only allow further divide in the workplace.
Owners, managers, and entry-level employees should trash the generational stereotypes and start understanding the context of different generations. Empathetic workplace solutions call for a cohesive and collaborative team that promotes everyone’s success.
Currently, there is consensus that five distinct generations are active in the global workforce. Traditionalists (born 1922-1945), baby boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Gen Y/Millennials (1981-1996) and Gen Z (1997-2012) are the five distinct generations. By 2025, Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce. Businesses should strive to bridge the gap between each generations workplace cultural differences by asking the following questions:
What breakthrough events has each generation endured in their time growing up and understanding the world? What does each generation have in common? How did they learn to interact with their peers? How do they approach authority and hierarchy? What is their comfort with new technology advancements and change?
Although the hierarchical culture was prevalent in past generations, Gen Z is resistant to respecting someone on title or age alone. Respect must be earned based on the quality of contributions. It’s a fault line that crisscrosses industries and issues. Overall, Gen Z is altering traditional workplace practices. They’re proving that businesses can be just as successful with more empathetic and inclusive workplace solutions.
When it comes to Gen Z, they want paid time off when coping with physical sickness and decreased mental health. They question the expected 8 hour work day when they can complete their to-do list by the afternoon. Furthermore, they demand what they see as an overdue shift away from corporate neutrality toward an open expression of values. Not acknowledging these generational differences hinders a company’s potential for growth in the marketplace.
What does Gen Z desire in the employment market? Well, Gen Z values a structured work life, but they also prefer some flexibility in the way they accomplish tasks. Due to the ever changing nature of new technology advancements, they prefer flexibility. Not only how, but also where their responsibilities are completed. A hybrid option is one of the workplace solutions that can be offered. Allow them to work remotely if their responsibilities can be completed outside the office. Also, provide them a physical environment to have those in-person interactions that are important to building relationships.
Gen Z wants the opportunity to add input on process improvements and participate in highly collaborative management relationships. They look to management to strongly establish the company’s mission and set an example to help them grow in their careers. They will seek out environments that prioritize social responsibility and diversity. Companies should lean into the desire for deeper purpose. Help them understand your company’s mission and how it helps make the world at large a better place.
Not to get confused with the common notions, Gen Z cares about their paycheck as much as any other generation. With the uncertainty of the state of the world and inflation higher than ever, they want to save and spend – big. Understandably, they strive for financial security. They have even taken on side hustles to add multiple channels of income. They don’t see the world in this or that, black or white, money or passion – they demand both this and that.
If you want to build a brand for longevity, listen to Gen Z. There is no denying that they will be the ones leading our workforce headstrong. Businesses looking to attract Gen Z should consider the groundbreaking events that led to the ways Gen Z navigate today’s world. By practicing empathy in our ever changing environment, businesses can better communicate with Gen Z and meet their needs.
Don’t just listen to Gen Z, learn from them. The Selling Factory created a report discussing Gen Z job expectations in the hiring process, employment desires, and underlying motivations. To learn more about the inner workings of the Gen Z mind, download our full report here. Also, keep using that GPS to navigate your company’s mission throughout the developing times ahead.