Your business will need the input of Gen Z.

It’s time to understand the multi-gen workplace. 

Many leaders and employers might still consider Generation Z (or ‘Gen Z’ as they’re colloquially known) as the youth of Australia. Truth is, they’re already entering the workforce and our businesses and they have some very definite expectations and standards.  

 Gen Z is a group, like other generations, defined by when they were born.  

  • Generation X (1966 and 1980), the first generation to have computers at home; 
  • Millennials (or Generation Y) – born between 1981 and 1995, way more Tech Savvy than Gen X, the majority of their home and work life transitioning to computers; 
  • Generation Z – born between 1996 and 2010, sees the introduction of personal devices and exponential development in software as well as major hardware shifts; 
  • Generation Alpha – born in 2011 and later, the tech wunderkinds, for whom life without a personal device will not be comprehensible. 

Gen Z can’t remember a time without mobile phones, or when the internet wasn’t readily available. They are the first truly global generation — connected to one another at record speeds. They’re highly educated, with nearly 50 per cent achieving university degrees, and likely to enjoy an average of five careers over their lifetimes. 

This generation is highly focused on social causes from climate change to work-life balance, which impacts how they move through life, including in their work. Gen Z’s are also characterised as thoughtful but firm on how they want to live their lives, carefully curating the choices that they make to be authentic to themselves.  

Throw in the global cultural shifts directly related to the Covid-19 Pandemic, and Gen Z is increasingly comfortable choosing work-life balance, work-from-home options and a smaller pay packet to work for a social enterprise that feels aligned with their values. 

How to attract, and keep, your Gen Z’s: 

Gen Z is a generation prepared to go it alone – they are not planning on how to be the best employee but rather how to survive as a freelancer or a competitor. They have the skills, and they can use them, either for you or for themselves. This is a generation more likely to have a more developed understanding of how they might start their own businesses – making the most talented members not only flight risks but potential competitors, especially in industries with low start-up costs. 

1. Gen Z staff are true digital natives:

They use the digital world in every aspect of their lives — from food shopping to dating. And most enjoy working with cutting-edge tech in their careers. So, if you’re hoping to attract and retain top Generation Z talent, and you likely will need to be, make sure you’re offering them tools that are efficient and engaging. Think cloud-based technology, bots and automation, AI-supported processes, and, of course, digital-first practices.

2. Highlight values and social causes: 

One of Gen Z’s most defining features is their dedicated social conscience and values-centric viewpoint. From climate change to no-kill shelters, Gen Z is invested and wants you to be too. What are your organisation’s values and what social causes do you support? To attract Gen Z employees, consider highlighting your green initiatives.  

Reduce, reuse and recycle, add natural light and plants, and create a wellness or meditation space. Demonstrate your support of your social causes by donating a part of your profits to a specific cause. Introduce a corporate social responsibility program that gives employees paid time off work to volunteer with a charity of their choice. 

3. Embrace flexibility and work-life balance: 

Flexibility and a good work-life balance are no longer negotiable. It’s a requirement for the Generation Z workplace. Up to 61% see a flexible working policy as an important part of their employment choice. They don’t subscribe to the hustle culture, they’re about balance and choice. Gen Z wants to invest in companies that trust them to work remotely and that are dedicated to the work-life balance. 

The growth of open office spaces aligns with Gen Z expectations, with fewer embracing traditional office spaces. Hotelling or Hot Desking (where employees don’t have fixed seating in an office) may be more effective for spaces moving forward.  

Easy access to private spaces will be essential to allowing Gen Z to tune out all the additional conversational channels available to them in an open office. Another advantage is that this serves to break the link between status and space, think of losing that traditional corner office for senior leaders.  

4. Trust and responsibility: 

Generation Z’s are used to being trusted by their parents, and while they frequently consult parents for advice, they expect to make independent decisions. They are responsible, engaged, and thoughtful. Importantly, Gen Z is looking for authenticity and connection. And that includes the workplace.   

5. Task management: 

Gen Z sees itself as a generation of master multitaskers, seeking to stay connected to all the communication channels available to them. They’re on everything all the time, switching and swapping from dawn until dusk. But here’s the catch, studies have frequently found that there is no such thing as multitasking. In reality, people switch between tasks at varying speeds and with varying levels of efficiency, losing some focus and energy with each swap.  

Design generous personal and sick leave policies and include discussions of mental health in both their diversity and inclusion and well-being discussions. Invest in systems to help them prioritize and order their work so they can improve efficiency and quality.  

Provide significant clarity around deadlines, and time management, and identify which corners should not be cut to make for solid work. 

Radically different from Millennials, Gen Z has an entirely unique perspective on careers and how to define success in life and in the workforce. To attract Gen Z, employers must be ready to adopt a speed of evolution that matches the external environment. That means developing robust training and leadership programs, with a real and tangible focus on diversity. 

Onboarding and retaining Gen Z employees is a vital link to the future of any forward-thinking business. Gen Z will become more important as they become a bigger percentage of the workforce population, soon surpassing Millennials as the most populous generation on earth.  

For your business to continue into the future it is important to respect and consider input from multi-generations, representing your workforce as well as your market. Based in the Barossa, we are a trusted local team. Led by experienced advisors Matt Whitelum, Amanda Westbrook and Brett Johnson, our team is committed to maximising your future financial health.