6 Things You Need to Know About Generation Z

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As a proud Baby Boomer, I know all too well that lumping people into categories based on their age and the year they were born is a very simplistic way to look at things.

Right now some generalizations are swirling around about the younger generations. We’ve heard lots about Millennials, but what about the next generation – Generation Z?

The Census Bureau defines Generation Z as those born from 2001 to the present. I’ve seen others define Generation Z as being born between 1990 and 1999, making them ages 16 to 25 – and soon to be a majority of the American workforce.

A recent survey by Enactus went straight to the source to find out what Generation Z cares about when it comes to taking a job, and how you can attract and keep these workers.

What Generation Z Wants

They Want Balance

Even though most don’t have children yet, members of Generation Z are already worrying about work-life balance—maybe because they’ve seen their parents struggle to achieve it. Whether they’re currently working or not, almost three in 10 say that balancing work with their personal obligations is their number-one career concern 

To attract and keep them: Offer flexible hours, the ability to work remotely, and time off for personal needs.

They’re Practical

The next biggest concern of Generation Z is making a good salary. For a generation squashed by student loans, this makes a lot of sense—and may be one reason why 38 percent of them say their ideal job is in the corporate world. Just 14 percent want to work for a startup business. They also cite healthcare benefits as one of the top five things they want from a job.

To attract and keep them: Forty-one percent of Generation Z says their ideal job is at a midsize company. To convince them to work at a smaller firm, you’ll need to offer some type of health insurance, as well as reasonably competitive wages.

They’re Loyal

You might think Generation Z, eager for flexibility and financial gain, would be ready to job switch every couple years. In reality, those surveyed say they expect to work for an average of only four employers during their entire career.

To attract and keep them: Emphasize the opportunities a small business offers to cross-train, learn a lot about different departments, work closely with a variety of people and move up to more responsible positions. Introduce them to long-time employees at your business.

They Seek Stability

Job stability is the number-three thing Generation Z wants from the workplace, cited by 23 percent of respondents. In return for stability, they’re willing to work hard. Seventy-seven percent believe they will have to work harder than generations that came before them in order to achieve a satisfying career and personal life.

To attract and keep them: Share your plans for the future of your business, as well as an overview of its place among the competition, to convince them that your business is here to stay.

They Aren’t Really Glued to Their Phones All the Time

Despite the stereotype of 24/7 texting, almost three-fourths of Generation Z actually prefer face-to-face communication to any other type of workplace interaction. (That may be hard to believe if you’ve currently got a 16-year-old in your life, but give it a few years.)

To attract and keep them: Generation Z likes personal interaction because they are still learning about the workplace. Provide a wide variety of ways to communicate, and make sure they get plenty of one-on-one time with you and their supervisors.

They’ll Make You Feel Good About the Future

At least, they make me feel good about the future. Generation Z isn’t just in it for the money or the health insurance. Other factors they care about when it comes to taking a job are the types of growth opportunities it provides, the chance to work with a manager they can learn from, the opportunity to be mentored, and being able to make a positive impact on the world. Thirty percent say they’d take a 10 or 20 percent pay cut in order to work for a company whose mission they care deeply about, and “honesty/integrity” is what they want most from their boss (cited by 38 percent of respondents).

To attract and keep them: Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk. Pair new employees with mentors or “buddies” who cannot only train them, but also introduce them to your company culture and make them feel at home. Share your business mission in help wanted ads and show job applicants how they can directly contribute to achieving your business goals.

Gen Z Image via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.