This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
There’s been a lot of chatter over the past few years about Generation Y, also known as the millennials, while Generation Z has been completely avoided. Born between 1994 and 2010, and numbering 20 million in the United States and seven million in Canada, Gen Z is poised to come into the work force in full force in the next year.
Companies need to understand this emerging generation because they too have unique workplace expectations, needs and goals. The management styles and recruiting techniques required to successfully engage with Gen Z will be different based on these unique preferences.
In a new study, between my company and staffing organization Randstad, called The Gen Z and Gen Y Workplace Expectations Study, we polled 2,000 Gen Ys and Zs from 10 different countries, 200 of whom were Canadians.
Globally, we found that Gen Z appears to be more entrepreneurial, loyal, open-minded and less motivated by money than Gen Y. These attributes are important because if you want to hire, engage or sell to Gen Z, you need to emphasize customization, incentives for loyalty and training and development over money.
Counter to previous research on Gen Y, this study confirms that Gen Y now prioritizes money over meaningful work because the economy, and student loans, has forced them to. Thirty-eight per cent of Gen Y is primarily motivated by more money while 34 per cent of Gen Z is most motivated by opportunities for advancement. “Meaningful work” takes a back seat to money for both generations globally.
Asked what size company they want to work for, both Gen Y and Gen Z Canadians would prefer to work at medium-size companies of 100 to 1,000 employees. Globally, Gen Z (17 per cent) would rather start their own business and employ others over Gen Y (11 per cent). Each new generation will become more entrepreneurial than their predecessors because of the amount of information, and people, they are able to access at a younger age. Gen Z has access to hundreds of millions of blogs, over a billion social network users and an endless sea of content that can solve almost any startup challenge that may occur.
Another attribute that defines Gen Z is their potential loyalty to their future employer. In Canada, while Gen Y expects to work for five companies in their lifetime, Gen Z expects to work for fewer than four. This is a good thing for companies that have been stressed out as Gen Ys have been job-hopping repeatedly over the past few years. Gen Z has the opportunity to rise more quickly in an organization by being loyal when Gen Y isn’t. Companies should stress the benefits of loyalty and longevity and reward those who serve longer and accomplish more.
This study also confirms that each generation has a negative view of the generations that follow. In a study last year, we found that Gen X and boomers view Gen Ys as being entitled, narcissistic, and not focused, while Gen Ys view older generations as being wise and experienced.
In this study, we found that Gen Zs have a positive view of Gen Ys, but 40 per cent of Gen Ys view Gen Z as lazy. Gen Z is an open-minded generation and sees the opportunity to learn from others. Gen Ys need to be more accepting of Gen Zs and become role models to them.
That is why learning and development programs are so important for Gen Z. In Canada, Gen Z is most interested in mentoring as a way to develop their career, while Gen Y selects online courses.
Gen Z Canadian respondents expressed that their managers can first and foremost engage them to do their best work by assigning meaningful projects, while secondly serving as mentors and providing regular feedback. Gen Z is at such an early phase of their careers that they will prioritize training and mentoring so that they have a better transition into the work force. Companies need to provide mentoring, feedback and meaningful projects if they want to reach Gen Z and retain them.
Dan Schawbel (@DanSchawbel) is the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success, now in an expanded paperback edition.