Running a small business comes with a wide set of challenges, not the least difficult being employee retention. However, a talent opportunity is emerging on the horizon for small businesses: Gen Z.
Within the next two years, Gen Z—the generation that follows millennials—will comprise a whopping 20% of the workforce. For small businesses that have been struggling to keep their employees, this presents the chance for an entirely new approach to employee retention based on the demands and preferences of Gen Z in the workplace.
Curious about what age makes someone a member of Gen Z? Uncertain about what it is exactly that this new crop of workers wants out of a job? Read on for everything you need to know about Gen Z in the workplace.
Who is Generation Z?
Though definitions vary, those who were born in 1995 or later are considered a part of Gen Z. Perhaps the defining characteristic of the generation is that they’re true digital natives—most of their lives have been mobile and connected thanks to their coming of age in the heyday of the internet and smartphones. Because of this constant connectivity, they’re more globally and culturally connected than previous generations. They’ve also grown up through the height of the Great Recession, which has informed their worldview, especially when it comes to Gen Z in the workplace.
The oldest members of the generation are just now turning 24, but many are beginning to leave college and join the professional workforce for the first time. What makes this remarkable (and presents an employee retention opportunity for small businesses) is the fact that Gen Z has different demands and expectations from the workplace (and its culture) than any generation before—including millennials. And these demands aren’t outlandish by any means; in fact, they’re quite attainable.
What to expect from Gen Z in the workplace
While it can’t be forgotten that any generation is a group of diverse individuals lumped together and that generalizations can never account for individual differences and preferences, by and large the characteristics of Gen Z in the workplace coalesce around a few common threads:
- They want their work to matter. The majority of Gen Z wants their work to have a positive impact on the world. In fact, one in four Gen Z’ers volunteer in their spare time.
- They want one-on-one connections with their leaders. Professional development matters to Gen Z and one of the ways they expect to get it is through individual connections with their superiors, specifically company leadership. They’re not content with rank and file roles.
- They’ll expect to talk directly about money. After witnessing the Great Recession in all of its terrifying glory, you can expect clear and direction conversations about money and compensation from Gen Z in the workplace. Many of them have already begun saving for the future and expect their job to be a way to help them do more of that in one way or another.
- They’ll expect time away from technology. Despite (or perhaps because of) growing up in such a digital world, Gen Z actively steps away from technology and values face-to-face human interaction more than previous generations.
Offering opportunities to grow their careers, work on rewarding projects, and good relationships with their mentors could go a long way in terms of retaining employees from generation Z.