We Need to Be Talking About Generation Z
It’s time we start talking about Generation Z.
Generation Z goes by multiple names, iGeneration, Founders, Plurals, the Homeland Generation, but it seems Generation Z is the Blu Ray to the HD-DVD — remember that reference? If not, you may be in the Generation Z cohort —, it seems Generation Z is the most likely to “stick.” Depending on the source, you’ll find a mish-mosh of age ranges to define a Generation Z member, for example, one source will say the age range start for those born in 1996 or later, others say as early as 1993, and yet another will determine the generation starting in 2000. Suffice it to say, you can pretty safely place someone in the Generation Z camp if they were born in the mid- to late-nineties or later. If you did the math, that means Generation Z is already entering the workforce; the upper end of the age range is already in their twenties.
So, let’s get to the juicy part, shall we? What are the characteristics of this generation, and what does it mean for the future of our workforce and our marketing strategy to attract consumers?
What You Need to Know Before Employing Generation Z
Growing up during the recession of 2008, Generation Z saw their parents struggle when the financial crisis hit. It’s no surprise then, that this generation places high importance on financial independence. While some may value and even expect the benefits companies put in place for Millennials, Generation Z will care more about the salary, job security, and benefits like retirement.
Generation Z watched as Millennials posted photos on social media platforms showcasing them under-age drinking and partaking in activities that could endanger their ability to land a job. This generation understands the implications of posting and instead opts for anonymous social media platforms like Secret and Whisper and Snapchat’s ability to have the photos disappear once they’ve been viewed by the recipient. This cautious attitude transcends other areas, Generation Z is more likely to click on their seat belts and less likely to partake in underage drinking compared to the Millennials.
As an employer, this means when you hire a Generation Z employee, you may not as easily discover if the employee is “sick” when their favorite band is in town, but you also don’t have to worry about them tarnishing your brand image.
Choosing Alternative Routes
It’s no secret that the Millennial generation is drowning in student debt from pursuing higher education degrees. Again, we find Generation Z is financially minded and choosing alternative routes or entering the workforce earlier instead of the current track of entering into a university program after high school. Universities need to proactively address the return-on-investment (ROI) concerns of this generation to attract potential students to their campuses.
As an employer, you need to be aware that your current requirements for a position may need to change, as a four-year degree will be less prevalent. This isn’t to say these workers will not have the experience, you just may have to find new ways to determine if their skill set will meet the position requirements.
Forget About the Team Work and Open Concept Office
While the Millennial workforce brought in a slew of changes, like open collaborative offices and emphasis on teamwork, Generation Z isn’t interested in either.
This generation would prefer a private space to work and the ability to work independently. They want their skills to shine through and don’t want to be dependent on others to do their work.
A whopping 72% of Gen Z high school students surveyed say they want to start a business. As an employer, you should be prepared that a Generation Z’er will work hard and learn new skills as they want to continually improve themselves. For some, the ultimate goal is to use these skills to manage their own business. Employers can expect an employee that wants to take on more tasks and responsibilities.
What You Need to Know Before Marketing to Generation Z
If you thought Millennials were needy when it came to speed and instant gratification, we have a bit of bad news: Generation Z will expect more. While Millennials remember the dial-up days, Generation Z grew up in the age of the smartphone.
When determining your marketing strategy, you will need to keep your content short and compelling and your website must load quickly or a Generation Z will move on.
You’re Going to Have to Work Harder
In a recent poll, 71% of Millennials said they followed an ad online before making a purchase compared to 59% of Generational Z’ers. So, you’re going to need to work harder to court Generation Z. We will likely see the market shift and acquire new ways to target this Generation.
Another thing you should know before employing Z’ers and forming your marketing strategy: they prefer a face-to-face conversation instead of an instant message or email.
This generation, similar to Millennials, will make a large wave in the workforce and markets because they’re so different than the generation prior. Companies that adapt their office spaces, employee benefits, team structure, and marketing strategy to their wants will have a better chance of acquiring and maintaining employees and marketing to their unique needs.