If you think recruiting for Generation Y – Millennials – is a challenge, wait until Generation Z (born 1998 – ongoing) steps foot into the workplace. Many recruiters may think Generation Z’s work and communication preferences will be similar to that of Millennial’s or Generation X. However, industry research paints a different picture.
While this raises a big concern among recruiters, there are measures HR teams can put into place to better prepare for the arrival of this emerging generation – now 23 million strong and growing in the U.S. It is imperative for recruiters to take a step back and gain a better understanding of what makes Generation Z unique before formulating strategies and tactics that best meet their needs.
A recent TalentCulture article written by the company’s CEO Meghan Biro provides excellent insights on several unique characteristics, along with key strategies recruiters ought to leverage in preparation for the arrival of Generation Z.
It’s important to note that Generation Z is the first age group born into the “golden age of the Internet.” Dial-up Internet service, Microsoft Windows 95, and phrases such as AOL’s, “You’ve Got Mail” pre-date this age group. Generation Z was born the same year as Google, and this was also a year in which instant messaging started to gain some traction.
While many recruiters may think Generation Z is completely tech-driven and prefers to carry out conversations through messaging platforms, survey results featured in Biro’s article suggest otherwise. According to the survey, a surprising “53 percent of Generation Z respondents prefer face-to-face communication over tech tools like email – 16 percent – and messaging – 11 percent.” And face-to-face communication doesn’t always mean physically meeting at the same location. Face-to-face communication can take place virtually as members of the Generation Z age group are accustomed to using video platforms to communicate with family, friends and peers.
What’s also interesting to note is the way in which Generation Z views the nature of work itself. Generation Z values passion and purpose over earning more money, and survey results from marketing firm Spark and Honey, also featured in Biro’s article, indicate that “two-thirds of this age group would rather be entrepreneurs than employees.” They are going to be looking for opportunities to develop into leadership positions and will want to engage in more meaningful levels of conversations with their co-workers.
In terms of mobility, while Generation Z members want stability and predictability, they will also demand to work in environments that provide flexible working arrangements to accommodate outside interests and commitments – more so than Millennials. This means saying goodbye to the “9-5” schedule in the office, and incorporating more mobile technologies, such as video conferencing platforms, which will enable the Generation Z group to stay connected regardless of location.
Lastly, Generation Z will demand transparency with companies they want to do business with. Members of this age group are not fooled by distorted marketing gimmicks, and will not be misled by corporate communication smokescreens when the time comes for them to step foot into the workplace. As Biro points out, “they’ll expect management to be honest with them in every aspect of their jobs.”
From a strategy standpoint, Biro’s article provides several key recommendations for HR teams to leverage as Generation Z enters the work environment. Such strategies include companies providing a flex work environment, encouraging Generation Z to embark on “intrapreneurial” roles to support purpose-driven work and ensuring there are clear communication and expectations.
But what about from a tactical component? How can companies provide a physical work environment with the latest tech platforms that will support structure and predictability, mobility, transparency and face-to-face communication that Generation Z seeks?
From a design standpoint, Knoll, Inc., a modern design company for offices provides recommended office layouts firms can employ as a future selling point. To help satisfy structure and predictability for instance, firms can implement more “legible” and clearly articulated workspaces that provide familiarity and ease of use. Examples include better signage and seating layouts for major landmarks such as café areas, enhanced visual access between locations, and more obvious spaces designed to promote their intended use.
Other recommended physical work arrangements include “refuge” spaces designed to limit distractions and enhance productivity, and “enclave” spaces with comfortable seating arrangements to promote transparent communication either in-person or through online collaboration.
In conjunction with modern office designs, companies are implementing and leveraging video communication platforms to transform the face-to-face communication experience across geographic borders. While HR departments have already adopted video interviewing as an effective recruiting tactic, HR departments need to focus on how to leverage video as an effective tool to retain and develop Generation Z’s skillsets.
One example of a company that is currently leveraging video as an effective collaboration tool in conjunction with a unique office layout is happening at Oak Lawn Marketing, a Japanese branding and media enterprise.
Oak Lawn Marketing designed their workspace using latest video collaboration technologies to effectively drive workplace engagement among colleagues. The quality video conferencing solution in place, coupled with their unique office furniture layout, transforms a traditional conference room setting to better mimic conversations that normally take place in an office – e.g. hallway and impromptu discussions.
The use of video and the unique layout of office furniture at Oak Lawn Marketing is not only helping drive more meaningful collaboration, it is also helping form a stronger bond with employees in a more relaxed and casual setting.
Generation Z will soon be entering the work environment. The companies that meet the needs of this age group by implementing unique office designs with the latest video collaboration technologies to support face-to-face communication, mobility, transparency, and purpose-driven work will be the winners in tomorrow’s economy.