By Barbara Mitchell
Q: My organization is beginning to hire young people from so-called Generation Z. What do I need to know to be prepared for what this new generation brings to the table?
A: Yes, the next generation is here, and it’s smart to be proactive about getting to know them. Generation Z refers to people who were born between 1995 and 2014, and collectively, it’s larger than the millennial generation.
A disclaimer: When we talk about generations, we should remember that people don’t all think and act the same way just because they were born during the same time period. But usually there are some general similarities that we can identify. We know that members of this new generation, for the most part, share these characteristics to some degree:
They’re technologically savvy. Members of Gen Z are even more focused than millennials on using technology tools in all aspects of their lives. They expect to be able to do almost anything on their smartphones, including applying and being hired for jobs.
People don’t all think and act the same way just because they were born during the same time period. But usually there are some general similarities that we can identify.
They’re independent. They are less likely to have had “helicopter parents,” so this generation has been allowed to experience minor failures. They’ve learned some problem-solving skills and want to make their own decisions.
They’re passionate. Many have strong opinions on political issues and are willing to share them. They likely have had volunteer experiences in school and expect to continue volunteering in their professional lives.
They’re diverse. This is the most demographically diverse generation in U.S. history, and they have a keen interest in social justice issues like poverty, racism, sexism, immigration, and more.
Millennials have a reputation for job hopping, but members of Gen Z may be more willing to stay with an employer if its culture and mission align with their values. They will expect your organization to be socially conscious: They are committed to working for employers that give back to the community and are environmentally responsible.
As you begin to recruit members of Generation Z into your workplace, bear these traits in mind. But avoid making unfair assumptions, and be sure to treat every applicant as an individual.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR, The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook and the latest book—The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].