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What Makes Generation Z Tick?

Generation Z is on the cusp of making a big impact on the American workforce. According to Pamela Shadrick, writing last year for the ITA group, “While they’re currently only about 2% of the workforce, they are a whopping 24% of the population. But by 2020, Generation Z will make up an estimated 30% of the workforce and 40% of the consumer market.” Employers seeking to acquire the best talent from within this group need to understand what motivates them. And it’s not just a paycheck.

Gen Z Values On-the-Job Training

More so than previous generations, Gen Z sees hands-on training and experience as, if not — in some cases — more, valuable than formal education. Perhaps some of this is based on seeing their older siblings struggle to find jobs while paying down large student loans. As Dona DeZube writes for, “Employers open to hiring high schoolers may find they can hire Gen Z students before waiting to hire college interns or graduates. Around 60% of the high schoolers surveyed by Universum were open to joining the workforce after graduation if their employer was willing to educate them.”

Writing for Inc, John Boitnott also points out that members of Gen Z are more than willing to take advantage of internships and other on-the-job training opportunities to help advance their careers. They, perhaps unlike previous generations, view work as an extension of education—an opportunity for continuous learning. They talk a longer term view of these opportunities, says Boitnott. “Lengthy work engagements are considered stepping-stones towards success, even if they don't pay out right away.”

Making a Difference as an Organization

Gen Z also wants to make a difference—but in a slightly different way than the millennials, says Boitnott. Gen Z, he says, is interested in working for causes or companies they feel passionate about. In addition, though, he writes: they “may be willing to be paid less to do so.” Offer Gen Z meaningful work that they’re passionate about and you’re likely to nurture an engaged and loyal contingent of employees.

Making a Difference Individually

Just as they are eager to get into the workforce, Generation Z wants to start making an impact early in their career. They don’t feel like they should grind it out for the first few years before making an impact within their organization. And, they don’t see management as a group that should be unapproachable. Perhaps unlike their older colleagues, and despite the fact that they’ve been inundated with technology throughout their lives, they’re more likely to desire real conversation and face-to-face connections, Boitnott says.

That comes with some potential downfalls as well, though. They require—and fact, tend to crave—extensive feedback. They want to know how they’re doing, and they want to know regularly. That requires a higher level of engagement and interaction from managers and supervisors.

It's only a matter of time before GenZ takes center stage in the workforce. A very short matter of time. Now is the time to begin taking steps to not only understand what makes this group tick, and what motivates them, but to begin to work on identifying and implementing new management methods to engage this up-and-coming cadre of workers.

Be inclusive!

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