Tapping Gen Z: Building Culture That Works With Purpose

Gen Zers want equality, fairness and fluidity at work.

Gen Zers want equality, fairness and fluidity at work.

A new film exploring GenZers across the globe, “The Future is Fluid,” premiered at Sundance recently, and it has many thinking what is in store for all of us working with this generation of workers, post-Millennials, born after 1995.

Turns out they want more and less at the same time. So how can you best create a work culture as a leader to accommodate the fresh energy and ideas of this new generation?

Gen Zers expect a workplace to promote equality, happiness, connection and purpose. And they also do not expect to get a job right out of college or graduate school.

A new film exploring #GenZ, #TheFutureIsFluid, premiered at @SundanceFest recently, and it has many thinking what’s in store for all of us working with this generation of workers. https://bit.ly/2TByRUw

According to InfoQBarbara McCarthy, director of engineering at Hubspot, told attendees at  Women in Tech Dublin 2018 that Gen Z employees want a strong culture at work, one that is happy.

Generation Z is different – it is a seriously tech generation, the first fully digital generation, argues McCarthy. Generation Z are worried about the world they live in. Being connected, they see what is happening in the world. They want to have a social impact, but are realistic about the impact they can have.”

McCarthy says many feel entrepreneurial and expect to start their own companies.

According to Forbes, “Sixty-one million will enter the workforce in the next few years. Their job is not just a paycheck to them: 74 percent of Gen Zers believe there’s more to a job than ‘bringing home the bacon.’ They want to feel like they’re a vital part of the organization and may leave if they feel expendable.”

Pew Research Center recently reported that Gen Zers may have more liberal ideals than millennials. “Sixty-four percent of millennials said they believe government should do more to solve problems, a figure higher than those older than them but lower than Gen Z, 70 percent of whom said government should do more to solve problems.”

In a new report on global workplace trends, Sodexo calls out Gen Zers for having large impact.

“The first important trend is that Generation Z has arrived in the workplace. Gen Z is the generation born between 1995 and 2012. The year 2017 marked the first full year that Gen Z joined the workplace,” according to the report.

“Gen Z values a work life balance blend. There are more individuals working remotely, and with the advancements of technology, this is now possible.”

Sodexo calls this trend, Human Capital Management 3.0, or HCM 3.0. “It  is the philosophy that employees should be able to have choices regarding their work experience. This choice architecture would allow employees the option to blend their work and community lives and have a greater work life balance.”

How to harness the power, the optimism and the entrepreneurial spirit of Gen Z?

How to harness the power, the optimism and the entrepreneurial spirit of #GenZ?

Jennifer Openshaw, the CEO of Girls With Impact, writes in Market Watch, “Equipping Gen Z women to be CEOs will not only drive our economy and a competitive workforce, but will increase the odds that more women will have the confidence to climb the ladder. Already, we’re seeing 80 percent of teen girls more likely to major in business or entrepreneurship as a result of early exposure.”

Janice Gassam writes in Forbes, “Generation Z is a group characterized by smartphones and social media. Research indicates that this generation values information on-demand, and is leery of both authority figures and brands on social media. They can also be thought of as the ‘me me me’ generation, accustomed to consuming vast amounts of information from many different platforms simultaneously. One survey even found that Gen Z uses social media to understand more about products before making purchases.”

And as far as assimilating with the workplace culture, Gassam writes, “According to a poll of 5,000 Gen Zers, this generation wants to engage one-on-one with their organizational leaders. Management should be actively involved in the progression of their careers. Creating an effective strategy to allow this generation to receive mentorship, sponsorship, and also one-on-one guidance from leaders can be a beneficial approach to keeping this group engaged.”

Gassam adds, “Another survey of 4,000 Gen Zers revealed that this group ranked positive relationships at work as one of their main priorities in a prospective job. Despite being a generation that is characterized by smart devices and Snapchat, Gen Zers also crave human connection in the workplace, with 16 percent of those surveyed emphasizing the importance of their relationships with coworkers and 15 percent highlighting the importance of supervisor interactions.”

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About the Author

Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com