Many popular, but not-always-helpful tropes about Millennials have come to prominence since the widespread entrance of this generation into the workplace. However, it’s equally vital to appreciate that the workers immediately following them – Generation Z – are not simply ‘younger versions of the same thing’.
Generation Z, for those who are unaware, is a term typically referring to those born in the late 1990s or early 2000s. There is not yet much consensus on which birth years would constitute the latest for Generation Z.
The great danger for many firms conducting online recruitment campaigns, however, is that of regarding Generation Z as exactly the same as the generation preceding them with regard to their technical proficiency, approaches to their work and how they see the world.
So, what characteristics tend to mark out many Generation Z employees?
Strong resistance to micromanagement
It’s never been a good idea for a leader to micromanage their workers. However, Generation Z employees are arguably even less tolerant of taskmasters than Millennials, not least because of their often highly entrepreneurial nature.
Those who have most recently left secondary school or university have grown up in an online world of social media influencers and other entrepreneurs who were able to make money – if not necessarily always a living – on the web, often from the comfort of their homes.
Many such young workers are therefore accustomed self-starters, with little interest in having older people dictate to them precisely what they should do and how they should do it. This is why managers are advised to focus less on processes and more on problems in their dealings with Generation Z workers, who will consequently be empowered to use their creativity and fix issues for themselves.
Digital proficiency, but not necessarily affinity
Yes, Generation Z workers may have grown up online. However, it is precisely because of this that some employees from this generation are likely to yearn for in-person conversations with their bosses and peers.
Indeed, according to one survey, 53% of Generation Z workers prefer face-to-face communication over such digital tools as instant messaging and video conferencing.
Expectations of diversity
While the Millennial generation grew up at a time when the conversation about such matters as LGBTQ rights and the representation of minority communities in politics was just starting to gather serious pace, Generation Z workers tend to see such changes as a standard part of the backdrop of their world.
More than any other generation in living memory, Generation Z employees are especially likely to expect to work alongside people of all backgrounds, lifestyles and beliefs. If, then, this isn’t a feature of where they work, they may be tempted to question whether their employer shares their values.
While the above broad characteristics have been observed among Generation Z workers, it is equally important to acknowledge that such candidates and employees are individuals. You are therefore advised to bear such trends in mind, but not allow your judgement to be clouded by stereotypes in your management of people from this age group in your workplace.