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The newest generation, Generation Z, has now started to enter the workforce. Generation Z is the population born in 1995 and later. The oldest members of this generation are 23 years old, and many are exiting college and starting the first jobs of their career. The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that in the next two years, 20% of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of this generation, containing approximately 61 million people. What drives this newest generation of young workers? What is needed to keep them engaged in the workplace? What do they want and what do they value as consumers? Understanding how to adapt your workplace culture to the needs of this newest generation will help give your company a competitive edge. Companies should also be mindful of what drives this generation in order to effectively advertise and market products to them.
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. According to a poll of 5,000 Gen Z’ers, 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. Another survey of 4,000 Gen Z’ers 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 Z’ers also crave human connection in the workplace, with 16% of those surveyed emphasizing the importance of their relationships with coworkers and 15% highlighting the importance of supervisor interactions. The Center for Generation Kinetics reports that this generation is used to having conversations surrounding finances, money, and debt earlier than previous generations. One survey found that 35% of Gen Z respondents plan to start saving for retirement while in their 20s with 12% of respondents indicating they have already started saving. Organizations can reap the strengths of this generation in a few different ways. Because this generation is so tech savvy, they may pick up on some aspects of the job more quickly than their counterparts. On the other hand, because this generation is so used to communication via text and video, they may be ill-equipped for jobs requiring high customer interactions and may require more training in this area. Similar to their millennial counterparts, this generation also desires regular feedback about their performance. One survey found that 40% percent of Gen Z respondents desire daily interactions with their boss.
There are also some important considerations when companies are trying to successfully market products and services to this generation. Research indicates that this generation wants personalization when it comes to communication. Generic “dear customer” emails won’t cut it with Gen Z’ers. In addition, this generation is accustomed to social media, connecting through Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other platforms. 81% of respondents in one survey indicated that they use social media to find out more about products. Companies that market their products to this generation should focus a majority of their marketing efforts on engaging with their customers on social media. This generation is visual, needing constant stimulation, so ad campaigns should contain interactive graphics, photos, and videos. One survey found that 50% of this generation relies on Youtube to understand and learn more about new products, with only 25% of those surveyed indicating they read emails from brands. This generation is also the mobile generation so advertisements should be mobile-friendly and websites should be optimized for mobile viewing.
As employees, Gen Z’ers want frequent interactions with supervisors and organizational leaders. They value regular feedback about their performance, and contrary to popular perceptions, this group values face-to-face interactions. In regards to training, this generation is very tech-savvy but may require a bit more assistance when it comes to customer-facing roles. When marketing to Gen Z’ers, companies should use graphics and interactive designs to keep this audience engaged. The company website should be optimized for mobile-viewing and organizations should utilize different social media platforms to connect with this group.
By Janice Gassam
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