Familiar with the terms “lit,” “sheesh” and “woke”? A new generation, with no shortage of inventive lingo, has arrived at the workforce. They go by Generation Z, otherwise known as Gen Z or Zoomers, and this group of young professionals is about to have a massive impact on the workplace, no cap.
This demographic—born between 1996 and 2010—recently became the largest generation, constituting 32% of the global population, surpassing Millennials and Baby Boomers, respectively.
But Gen Z’s strength isn’t just in their numbers. This radically and ethnically diverse generation “sees the world differently than those who became before them,” say Meghan Grace, author of “Generation Z: A Century in the Making.” Their collective perspective on careers differs greatly from their Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts, and how they define success—both in life and in the workforce—will likely result in entire industries and businesses rising and falling in their wake. Business leaders are poised with the question: Is their organization ready for Gen Z and their needs?
New beliefs, new skills
Given how diverse the generation is, they tend to be much more open-minded and accepting than their predecessors. 75% of Gen Z want their work to have meaning—and while they value individuality and independence, 85% believe that straightforward, constructive and consistent communication is of the utmost importance.
Additionally, and this should go without saying, these digital natives are incredibly tech savvy. 91% agree that technological sophistication would indeed impact their interest in working at a company. To Zoomers, technology is a tool, not a toy.
Gen Z employees: Wants and needs
According to Gartner, 74% of U.S. companies either are currently using or plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model. While the idea of working fully from home may bring delight to more senior generations, Gen Z recognizes the value of a physical workplace, with only 14% in favor of a completely remote work environment. 61% of Zoomers favor face-to-face interactions, with virtual meeting following as their second preference. The rise of hybrid work is driving the demand of safe and secure collaboration tools for voice, video and content sharing.
Business leaders must also remember that Gen Z has never known a life without technology at their fingertips (smartphones made their debut when they were infants). They are most comfortable with technology and are skilled at juggling the simultaneous use of five screens on average, including smartphones, TVs, laptops, desktops and iPads. They understand that technology encourages seamless collaboration, which in turn allows them to be more productive and mobile at work and in their personal lives.
Research has also identified several other appealing work factors for Gen Z’ers:
- Health insurance: When surveyed about their top work priorities, health insurance was the number one priority (70%), one that has been traditionally associated with Boomers and members of Gen X. Where Zoomers and Millennials find common ground is their desire for more accessible mental health and wellness services.
- Salary: Gen Z is driven by money and ambition. Need me to relocate for a good job or work nights and weekends for a better salary? Bring it, they say. At the same time, Deloitte reports that Gen Z values salary less than every other generation: If given the choice of accepting a better-paying job versus a career they felt passionate about that didn’t pay as well, Gen Z was fairly evenly split over the choice.
- Honest leadership: When it comes to what Gen Z wants from management, transparency and authenticity make the top of the list. Leaders who are more likely to bring their authentic selves to the table without fear or judgment will foster a more transparent environment, encouraging happier and more engaged employees.
- Respect and inclusivity: Gen Z grew up never knowing a world without the Internet, making them apt to work from anywhere and problem solve. Social media and forums have always allowed this generation to share their POV, thus it’s not uncommon for this cohort to want a seat at the table. Leaders need to ensure members of Gen Z are seen and heard. In fact, 40% of Gen Z employees want daily interactions with their boss and may think they’ve done something wrong if they have no interaction.
- Innovation: Virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning and Gen Z are all maturing together. For that reason, Gen Z is the most likely generation to integrate these technologies seamlessly into their daily lives. Older generations will lean on this generation to gain further understanding of digital worlds and technologies and how they apply to the business environment.
- Security: Interestingly enough, Gen Z is less conflicted than others about privacy. While they appreciate when data adds value to their lives through personalization and customization, they loathe when it fuels predatory practices. In fact, only 39% of Gen Z internet users in the U.S. said they trust brands to keep their data safe, the lowest confidence rate of any generation. Executives must keep this top of mind and look to implement solutions that can protect their organization’s applications while enabling productivity and efficiency—especially in hybrid work environments.
The enterprise “glow up”
It’s estimated that Gen Z will make up 30% of the U.S. workforce by 2030. Business leaders need to educate themselves now about this generation of young, spirited workers and consider how this will impact their organization over the next decade.
The C-Suite must ask complex questions like: What antiquated systems and processes must be discarded to carve space for superior communications, collaboration, trust and flexibility? What emerging trends and technologies do Gen Z’ers use and value that may eventually be adopted by businesses in the future? And how does unified communications (UC) enable employee productivity as businesses continue to adapt hybrid work models?
All of Gen Z’s key priorities and concerns will help leaders drive better business transformation, helping to evolve their collaboration strategy to become more productive, flexible and responsive. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and UC solutions are a powerful way for organizations to help bridge generational gaps in the workplace while also ensuring virtual collaboration and workplace flexibility.
Preparing for Gen Z’s office takeover, with the right strategy and technologies, will guarantee any organization’s glow up (which is just a fancy way of Gen Z saying “a positive transformation”).