2016 was the year the first ‘Generation Z’ graduates made the jump from university to the workplace, while apprentices and non-graduates from the same generation have slowly been trickling into jobs for the past few years.
But who are Generation Z? Born between 1995 and 2000, this group represents the first generation to be raised entirely on the internet, with the World Wide Web becoming publically available several years before the first of this generation were born. Subsequent generations are going to be in a similar situation, having never known a world without the Internet or social media.
With this in mind, businesses should begin to take a forward-thinking approach and ensuring that their working environment attracts and retains a new generation of staff. Employers must start considering the wants and needs of younger workers, and begin implementing solutions now that appeal to Generation Z and beyond. But how should businesses do this?
Welcome, Generation Z:
Researchers are slowly starting to come to grips with Generation Z, their collective characteristics, their motivations and their environment. Unsurprisingly, given their upbringing, this generation of employees will be particularly tech-savvy and extremely comfortable with social media.
But beyond that, one thing that researchers agree on is that these workers are more interested in a role with purpose rather than the one which offers the best financial incentive. Unlike their millennial predecessors, Generation Z are more inclined to build a career at one company, and therefore likely to repay good employers with loyalty.
In a more practical sense, Generation Z typically prefer multitasking, ideally with an average of five different screens on the go at the same time. This generation are also expected to want to work more flexibly, fitting their lives and jobs together in a less conventional way to the current nine-to-five.
Seeing eye-to-eye with the iGeneration:
So how do you appeal to these new, loyal, tech-savvy potential employees before your competitors do? Firstly, technology that helps to facilitate flexible working, such as good communication practices, will be vital to attract and retain these new staff. By facilitating remote working practices and employee flexibility, businesses will see productivity increase.
Communication will continue to be king, despite reports of younger generation losing their ability to have a conversation. The need for instantaneous contact, to meet expectations born from social networking, is going to be one way to satisfy Generation Z. Companies need to have the technology to facilitate a new type of communication, from mobile phones to touchscreens.
Generation Z will have grown up around laptops and smartphones, so are more like to expect this technology in their working lives. Moreover, their desire, and expectation, to work across multiple screens mean employees must be able to move seamlessly between devices. This will benefit employees of all ages, who can make use of a range of communications; from instant messaging and video conferencing on their laptop or desktop to voice calls on mobile phones, or vice versa.
However organisations decide to meet these communications needs, they should be as comprehensive as possible; the more devices, and communication channels, a solution allows, the better. Not only does a unified communications approach facilitate a more flexible, tech-savvy workforce, it also improves security; as workers are happy to use company-approved communications channels and devices rather than sharing potentially sensitive information over networks the organisation cannot control.
On your marks, get set:
Although businesses might expect another few years before a deluge of Generation Z employees flood into workplaces, there is no reason to delay the implementation of new communication technologies. As noted, any changes will have their own benefits; from greater flexibility for existing employees, to improved security, to the potential of downsizing expensive offices as more workers are able to work remotely or at different hours, reducing the amount of office space the business needs to pay for. At the same time, the better prepared a business is now, the easier it will find it to attract the cream of the Generation Z crop as they enter the workforce.
In order to achieve this, any communications solution should meet certain criteria. As well as being comprehensive, it needs to be easy to install and manage; meaning the business can concentrate on helping its workers do their jobs, and provisioning for new workers as appropriate, rather than constantly battling to give them the communications they need. It must also be flexible, not restricting workers’ choice of device to such an extent that they are unable to work as flexibly as they desire, or are encouraged to go off the reservation and use unsupported, and so unsecure, devices.
From greater flexibility to improved sharing of information, and ultimately a happier, more productive workforce, adapting to generation Z has many benefits even if no members of that generation ever actually join a business. Businesses that expect employees to always adapt to them, rather than taking a more flexible approach themselves, are likely to be left behind by competitors who can better make use of modern communications and business.