Enough with the Millennials Already – Gen Z to the Rescue

By CEO Jim Annis

Millennials are no longer the newbies. As HR experts, we are “over” over-analyzing this generation. We’re also tired of everyone blaming them for whatever ails us at the moment. It’s time to press the refresh button.

Welcome Generation Z! This generation is the largest on the planet, numbering 72 million and counting. Ages 25 and younger, they represent 25.9 percent of the population and by 2020 they will account for one-third. Every generation looks down their noses at the young upstarts. In order to succeed together we want to change this.

Generation Z as Employees – Just like their predecessors, Gen Z will demand a workplace to conform to their whims.
– The environment will need a balance of face-to-face and digital access. They have seen how Gen Y was criticized for their constant attachment to devices yet have had smart phones and Wi-Fi from day one.
– They will strive to be loyal and long-term employees, so they can get a positive ROI for their investment in that single company. Starting at the bottom won’t be a big deal if they can receive rapid advancement and are assigned to multiple roles. This will be their expectation in return for not wasting your recruiting/training dollars and sticking around for a while.
– Get your budgets ready because personal and professional growth is on their radar and they’ll expect you to pay for it. Many Gen Z are skipping higher education to avoid going into debt so change your expectations regarding minimum requirements to apply for open positions.
– Like Gen X, they will work hard, be self-directed and work independently. However, in contrast to Gen X, they will request consistent feedback to help ensure they get generous performance incentives. Remember, they were severely affected watching their parents struggle through the Great Recession. They are the most fiscally conservative generation alive today and crave security through money and savings creation.

Bottom line, this generation’s behaviors especially in the work environment are still forming. Research articles about the characteristics of Gen Z and you will find they all say different, often opposing, things. Which leads us to ask – who is paying for the market research and what are their motives? We need to ask ourselves courageous questions like, “Who do we want them to be?” and “What is a need that we have now that they can be groomed to satisfy?”
Millennials as Gen Z Mentors – Millennials who have been in workplace now for 15 years are maturing into business people. It cannot be “kumbaya” forever. Winston Churchill said, “If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have No Brain.” You must make money to pay the bills. How do we prepare Millennials to led Gen Z and how do we do the same for Gen Y and beyond?

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, The Applied Companies’ COO, contributed to this article.