It is time to turn our attention towards the latest generation of talent, Generation Z. By 2020, Gen Z will make up 20% of the workforce. There is no harm being an early bird.
Remember how the Millennials caught most of us unprepared? Understanding Gen Z early on will represent a huge competitive advantage for organisations around the world: what are the biggest influences on Gen Z’s formation? What does Gen Z want? How is Gen Z different from previous generations?
Looking at Universum’s latest study (based on more than 49,000 Gen Z from 47 countries) it is clear that, although there are some similarities between these newbies and their predecessors, there are significant differences that cannot be overlooked.
When it comes to their education and their career, Gen Z are most heavily shaped by their parents (60%) compared to friends (24%), as was the case for Millennials.
Strongly influenced by the economically challenging times they grew up in, Gen Z strongly looks for any opportunity to volunteer or contribute to a higher purpose. As a result, they are much more interested in charity work than the Millennials who came before them; over 25% of today’s older members of Generation Z actively volunteer, and 60% of them want their future career choices to change the world for good.
Gen Z is also the most “plugged in” of any generation. Their five devices (on average) allow for greater ease of access to knowledge, and may in fact revolutionise, if not replace, the traditional college classroom style of learning.
Gen Z are most likely to apply themselves to charity work, pursue entrepreneurship rather than traditional employers, and will likely cause a decrease in the number of those who attend college.
While majority of Generation Z has not yet picked an area of study, 16% is leaning toward humanities and social studies, and 14% toward business. Nearly 70% of Gen Z pick what subjects to study based on their own personal interests, while only 39% pick a subject based on the likelihood that it will lead to money in the future.
Forty-three percent would like to start their own business immediately after college. This means there will be an increase in business and entrepreneurial courses as Gen Z hits colleges and universities. As they come into the workforce, this will mean an even larger startup surge than we saw when Millennials graduated.
Engaging Gen Z through the use of digital technology will be just as critical as it is with the Millennials, but organisations need to prepare for a new kind of digital. Gen Z is faster-paced and more mobile than their predecessors. This means employers and employer branding teams need to look at new social platforms, such as Whisper and Snapchat, to grab their attention. It will also be crucial for employers to take the time to connect with Gen Z talent through charities and feel-good business incentives, as these are tone of the biggest driving forces behind their actions.
While Gen Z does share many similarities with Millennials, particularly when it comes to their interest in startups and a fascination with technology, they will be different and they are going to rapidly change the workforce. As Joe Cocker said: “… every generation has a way, a need to disobey”.
It is fundamental that organisation understand early on how to engage this new generation if they are to succeed. The good news is, with their drive to impact the world and their financial savviness, the change will be a positive one.