The Generation Z job market is just now coming alive as the oldest members of that demographic graduate from college and enter the workforce. The event marks the beginning of a slow cultural shift within the private sector as Gen Xers, millennials, and even some remaining boomers adjust to the prospects of Generation Z in the workplace.
Regardless of Gen Z’s career aspirations, this newest group of adults are already defying expectations and stereotypes. As cultural products of a digitally-saturated yet economically woeful late-2000s and early 2010s, the Generation Z job outlook has been a mix of optimism and practicality. Many of these incoming workers have witnessed firsthand the consequences of corner-cutting and financial ill-planning. As such, Generation Z characteristics in the workplace are shaped by a willingness to go the extra mile.
Gen Z Will One Day Overtake the Workforce
Recent years have been marked by rapid-fire generational turnover in the job sector. In 2016, millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996 — emerged as the densest cohort of American workers, eclipsing Gen Xers — those born between 1965 and 1980 — who had only overthrown the perennial dominance of the boomer demographic in 2010. Now, Gen Z is set to become the largest generation on a global scale.
Though it could be a number of years before Gen Z overtakes the millennial generation in the U.S. workforce, today’s graduating classes consist by and large of people born since 1997. With this growing influx of Gen-Z job seekers, employers are having to reassess company culture and entry-level expectations to account for the cultural differences between the youngest adult cohort and their older counterparts.
Naturally, a period of trial and error is liable to mark this adjustment in numerous industries, but here is a look at some of the elements of a job and a company that are most important to Generation Z:
Perhaps more than any prior generation newly entering the workforce, members of Generation Z have expressed foresight about the importance of healthcare. Due in part to growing discussions about healthcare options in the United States, 38% of Gen-Z job aspirants are now naming healthcare as a top priority for any prospective career option.
For incoming workers, concerns about healthcare have been addressed by some of the larger employers that have risen to prominence in the age of Web 2.0. Google, for example, notes that healthcare benefits provide a powerful incentive that helps companies maintain a loyal, stable workforce.
Mentorship is another benefit that Gen Zers think is important in the workplace. This trend does closely follow that of their millennial predecessors, too. A 2016 Deloitte Millennial survey found that more than two-thirds of millennials were likelier to stay with the same company for more than a half-decade if said company offered a mentorship program.
3. Work Culture
Another important feature Gen Z will be looking for in the workplace is its ability to help employees thrive. Sure, benefits are great, but the “playtime” perks of past generations — things like rec rooms, on-site gyms, etc. — don’t have as much significance for this generation as they did for millennials.
Instead, Gen Zers want environments where they can advance — and not just on any career path. They want a path that is unique to them. In other words, they won’t necessarily want to follow in the footsteps of their coworkers. They want to develop their job roles based on their individual abilities and experiences — while still working to accomplish the task at hand.
4. Continuous Learning
Having grown up in a technological world, Gen Zers are accustomed to things happening at a rapid pace, and that includes learning. They don’t want to stop learning once they join the workforce, either. Their expectation instead will be to have plenty of opportunities for on-the-job training and skill development.
Along those same lines, feedback from mentors and managers is crucial. Gen Zers are adept at figuring things out on their own, so providing them with a task they’ve never done before can be ideal for helping this generation thrive — and though they may not need detailed instruction, they will still require general guidance and feedback once they complete the task or develop a solution to a problem.
5. An Involvement in the Greater Good
In addition to the importance that today’s graduating students place on healthcare, mentorships, and company culture, these same young adults also want to work for companies that connect to a grand world mission. Gen Zers want to work for companies that are “purpose-driven” and give back to their communities.
Among the causes dearest to Gen Z is equality. Youth in this age group supports interracial and same-sex marriage in the highest numbers. The sentiment is inspired in large part by the fact that today’s graduating students are likelier to have friends of different races, ethnicities, and sexualities than earlier influxes of young adults from the boomer, Gen X, and millennial generations.
6. A Focus on Environmental Protection
Companies that welcome new influxes of young graduates might face increasing pressure to adopt environmentally-friendly practices, at least if Gen Z gets its way. As the generation that has grown up amid distressing news reports of GMOs and polar ice-melt, today’s young adults are eager to reverse global climate trends before the window of opportunity closes. To that end, topics like alternative energy, water access, land conservation, and animal safety are close to the hearts of today’s youth.
7. A Focus on Bettering Health and Improving Poverty Situations
Aside from equality and the environment, Gen Z graduates consider health and poverty to be the most important concerns among today’s employers. The issue of health is understandable considering the attention that topics such as diabetes, eating disorders, and obesity have received in recent years. The issue of poverty has also been on the front-burner as major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, OR cope with large homeless populations.
8. Fiscal Responsibility
Most of today’s young graduates came of conscience during the economic slump of the late 2000s. Gen Z witnessed firsthand the hardships of people who didn’t save money for periods of unemployment or who overspent on unnecessary and often little-used luxury items. Consequently, Gen Z is a more fiscally-conservative demographic than their millennial and Gen X counterparts.
In fact, 64 percent of Gen Zers hold savings accounts, compared to only 51 percent in older age brackets — and 21 percent had their account before the age of 10.
As such, 89 percent of young adults are positive about their future financial prospects, compared to a mere 78 percent of Gen Xers and boomers. The trend toward fiscal conservatism has also manifested in the growing popularity of tiny homes, which young people are purchasing free-and-clear at just a fraction of the price of regular homes.
Generation Z Characteristics in the Workplace
While Gen Z definitely will require employers to rethink some of their current business strategies, this latest generation to enter the workforce will also provide several benefits to their potential employers. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of Generation Z:
1. Willingness to Relocate for Work
In the age of social media, today’s youth are inundated with slice-of-life imagery from different cities, nations, and continents. This, combined with online friendships between youth across vast national and international distances, has perhaps fueled the willingness of Gen Z job applicants to accept work opportunities in different states, cities, or even countries.
An overwhelming majority (83 percent) of Gen Zers say that they are willing to relocate for the right job offer. This statistic has flown in the face of stereotypes that insist that today’s youth expect to have everything come to them as opposed to vice versa.
2. Technologically Savvy
As the first generation with no memory of a pre-social media, pre-smartphone world, Gen Z views digital communication as integral to the future job market. Thirty-nine percent of Gen Zers say smartphones are an essential tool for job performance. By contrast, a mere fourth of all respondents from other generations feel the same way.
On a similar note, 23 percent of Gen Zers imagine that texting will play a major role in on-the-job communication. Considering that today’s youth account for the largest age demographic, these forecasts probably will play out as Gen Z applicants work their way into managerial and executive roles at companies throughout the business sector.
3. Heavy Reliance on Digital Communication
With each new generational influx into the job market, a cultural upset occurs throughout pre-existing industries. Among the employment sector, the most concerning aspect of Gen Z is its reliance on digital mediums of communication. Though this technical mindedness of young adults could be a boon to various facets of the workforce, critics fear that a majority of Gen Z might be ill-adept at more traditional forms of communication.
The technical generation gap is not lost on Gen Z, of whom 92 percent acknowledge the personal and professional ramifications of tech dependency. Additionally, 37 percent admit that technology has negatively impacted their ability to form relationships the old-fashioned way. This could be problematic as Gen Z enters a multi-generational workforce.
One of the healthier characteristics of Gen Z is their self-determination. More than three-fourths believe that they themselves are responsible for their own success in the job market. Basically, a vast majority of today’s youth understand that opportunities must be pursued, recognized, and competed for and that lucky breaks don’t simply land on doorsteps.
5. Willingness to Work Overtime
Today’s youngest bracket of job seekers are more willing to work extra hours than their older counterparts. More than half (58 percent) would work after-hours and on weekends for a higher income.
While this may in part be due to youthful vigor, this youngest group of respondents are the only age demographic where more than half are willing to work overtime for more money. Only 45 percent of millennials and a mere 40 percent of Gen Xers and boomers would be willing to work extra time for extra pay. For employers, this could be good news since the youngest and most energetic workers will be eager to put in more time on the clock when necessary.
6. Aspirations of Entrepreneurship
Perhaps more than any preceding generation, a large chunk of Gen Zers wish to own their own businesses at some point. To that end, nearly half in the Gen-Z bracket revealed entrepreneurial aspirations. This figure trumps such ambitions among older demographics in the survey by 10 percentage points.
The trend has possibly been fueled in part by the spate of young entrepreneurial success stories in recent years, many of which have been spawned by the digital revolution. As Gen Z is the most tech-savvy of demographics, many in this age bracket imagine themselves developing the next Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, or Snapchat.
7. A Nervousness About Competition From Technology for Entry-Level Jobs
Technology could prove to be a double-edged sword for Gen Z, which could easily be robbed of many entry-level jobs due to technological advances that usurp beginner skill-sets. For example, many of the more basic tasks of automation, which have traditionally been the province of incoming workers, are now being completed by software programs that operate independently of human intervention.
In the analytics fields, basic processing tasks are now handled by digital analytics tools, thus eliminating many entry-level positions at companies within this category. New applicants to these companies could find themselves tasked with interpreting data and extracting insights to form solutions — a more advanced set of skills that are generally beyond the grasp of newcomers to the industries in question.
Gen Z: The Future of the Workforce
The pros and cons of Generation Z largely revolve around technology, which is always in a state of evolution. Just as few people could have predicted smartphones and social media back in the dial-up days of 1997 — an era when HTML web design and mastery of programs like Netscape Gold were seen as lucrative career options — no one currently knows which of the present-day technologies could be instantly outmoded by the next wave of innovation
Whatever happens in the near or distant future, the Generation Z job market will need to adapt to these changes. Likewise, people born between the mid-1990s and late-2000s must pay attention to job trends and choose their majors wisely. In any event, the fields of healthcare, business, cosmetology, legal studies, and technology are sure to thrive for as long as time will tell. If you’re interested in entering one of these career fields, Vista College can provide the education you need to get started.