By the time any new generation enters the workforce, employers and experts have already twisted themselves into knots trying to figure out what makes these young workers tick, and what makes them happy.
Perhaps no cohort has been dissected more thoroughly than millennials, a group that many estimates predict will comprise as much as 75 percent of the workforce by the year 2025.
For example, we’ve heard (ad nauseam) about Gen Y workers’ nomadic tendencies, their preference to converse via email, IM, text message or just about any means other than face-to-face communication, and the underdeveloped people skills they possess as a result of this reliance on technology.
Naturally, such broad characterizations can’t be applied to every employee in a given generation, but, for better or worse, these are some of the common perceptions surrounding millennial-age workers.
And it’s those perceptions that make some of the data found in a new Institute for Corporate Productivity white paper focusing on Generation Z—defined by i4cp as those born between 1995 and 2012—all the more interesting.
(Click here for more background on the white paper, which is available for download to i4cp members.)
It’s easy—especially for a cynical, closing-in-fast-on-middle-age Gen Xer like me—to assume that each successive generation of workers will have a lesser sense of loyalty to their employers, or will become that much more dependent on technology at the expense of actual, personal interaction, for example.
But, judging from the input i4cp gathered from a focus group of 600 high school seniors, making such assumptions about Gen Z would be way off the mark.
For instance, 60 percent of the aforementioned students said they would like to stay with one company for more than 10 years, with another 31 percent saying they’d like to stick with the same organization for 20-plus years.
Or, consider that eight in 10 of these youngsters indicated that they prefer in-person communication (!), and 37 percent said they believe technology has a negative impact on people skills.
These same respondents seem to suggest an independent streak runs through Gen Z as well, with half saying they would prefer to have their own private work area as opposed to an “open concept” office or shared workspace. In fact—and I’m not sure how or why this very specific scenario was presented to participants—35 percent of the high school seniors surveyed said they would sooner share socks than an office space.
Organizational leaders such as those in HR are “at a critical crossroads” with respect to the multiple generations that make up their workforces, including Generation Z, the white paper notes.
Indeed, employers are already faced with trying to capture the knowledge of the millions of baby boomers creeping up on retirement age, and grooming Gen X- and Gen Y-age workers to fill the leadership void that will be created when those boomers leave, as the paper points out.
In addition, “employers are still grappling with millennials’ perceived sense of entitlement and knowing that they still always have one foot out the door,” according to the white paper authors. “Reacting to these gaps will be paramount to the success of businesses large and small.”
Organizations cannot shift into “reactive mode,” the authors continue, “lest a whole new set of gaps will develop and perhaps push them to the breaking point. But the reality is that Gen Z is already showing up, and leaders need to decide if they want to be prepared to welcome them (and [whether] they want to be ahead of the curve or not).”Twitter It!