Conversations about what millennials want — in work and in life — are plentiful. Thankfully, there’s a new and very different generation that employers should understand a bit more: Generation Z.
Born between 1996 and 2010, the oldest among this class are in the process of graduating and entering the workforce this year. Early research suggests that Gen Z is more pragmatic, more money-conscious, and more entrepreneurial than their millennial counterparts.
Making Privacy a Priority
While millennials push for open workspaces, “Gen Z would rather share socks than office space,” said David Stillman, co-author of Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation is Transforming the Workplace.
According to design company Knoll, Gen Z will enjoy order and predictability in the workplace. Since they appear to place a lot of value on boundaries and personal space, a workplace that will work best should include more options for both collaborative workspaces and private workspaces.
Gen Z also prefers “office workspace that is easy to orient within, understand, and use.” Each room within an office should be defined with clear use-cases so the workforce understands that there’s actually structure even in a more flexible environment. It should be very clear which rooms are for heads-down work & private phone calls versus which rooms are for group meetings, friendly conversation, or collaboration.
Supporting Their Entrepreneurial Spirit
The “beer and ping-pong table” culture has become synonymous with workplace perks for the millennial generation. But Gen Z puts a higher value on job stability over physical goodies. According to Monster, the top three must-haves for first jobs among this age group are health insurance, a competitive salary, and a boss they respect. The pool tables, in-office kegs, and beanbags are “nice to have,” but not “must have” bonuses.
33% of Gen Zers surveyed by Universum Global are scared they won’t find a job that matches their personality, and more than 50% of those surveyed want to start their own company someday.
To better support these ambitions, workplace providers should be considering a update to their development programs as well as designated spaces to support internal start-up schools, hackathons, and entrepreneurial workshops that can help to attract this top talent within this generation.
Taking Advantage of Their Digital Savviness
It’s clear that Gen Zers are expert multi-taskers and extremely “hooked in,” having grown up with constant access to technology. This generation has already proven their ability to excel and respond to more ambiguity and uncertainty than ever before – Snapchat, Google Docs, Pokemon Go, and Ad Blocking are part of their everyday life.
Within the workplace, Gen Z will expect and often require access to multiple technology solutions and devices to get their work done. However, technology is considered as more of a tool than a full solution – they actually value face-to-face communication much more than their millennial counterparts.
Designing Future Workplaces
For employers, it’s never too early to start evolving their workplace to meet the multi-generational needs of its workers. Winning the hearts and best minds of Generation Z will be both an opportunity and a challenge for millenials and baby boomers alike, but one thing is very clear – companies can’t expect to win against the Amazon’s and Google’s of the world the by simply checking a list that includes a foosball table and pizza Fridays. Well-designed workplaces of the future should foster collaboration, connection, and community; they are ingrained so deeply within the body language of the organization that its Snapchat and Instagram accounts are driven more by more employee-sourced posts than product-driven ones.