Here they come – knocking at your recruiter's door (so to speak)! Born in 1997 or later, the first group of Gen Z college graduates will soon be ready to start their careers, and projections indicate they will comprise at least 20 percent of the workforce by the year 2020. If you have not considered what Gen Zers are thinking and expecting in terms of employers and work, then you likely have not begun adapting your talent system to recognize their differences and the changes they will bring to your operations. Every element of your talent management process – recruiting, hiring, developing, managing, engaging, assessing – needs to take Gen Z into consideration to successfully compete in the labor market.
tech savvy and wired for change
What makes the 61 million Gen Zers different than millennials, the next oldest cohort? For one thing, Gen Zers were born with smartphones in hand and are even more comfortable with technology than millennials. They are used to experiencing rapid change so understand the need for adaptability. Technology is so embedded in their lifestyles that it has influenced how they learn, socialize and communicate, look for work, and manage their jobs and personal lives. They grew up in an "always on" technological environment so expect to have access to a full range of technologies in the workplace. You may be one of the millions of employers who has grappled with managing and monitoring social media use in the workplace, but for Gen Z the expectation is a company is transparent and social media provides an unprecedented level of transparency. Also because of technology, Gen Zers are very visual and like to be entertained.
Gen Z has also grown up in a world where globalization is a fact of life, so they naturally respect diversity rather than view it as a "movement" or a Diversity & Inclusion "program." In fact, Gen Z is even more diverse than the millennial generation. People with different perspectives, cultural backgrounds, racial makeup and so on are just people, and not "different" since different is a comparison to a standard of white men and women. Also, Gen Z is the personification of social responsibility. While millennials were instrumental in changing the expectations of corporate responsibility, Gen Zers expect corporations to have proof of consistent performance. All corporate talk and no or irresponsible corporate action does not sit well with Gen Zers.
generation unto itself
Gen Z is not a younger version of millennials. Unlike millennials, they are not attempting to enter the workforce during a major recession when companies were hit hard financially. Millennials adapted by accepting part-time jobs and contracted work, becoming entrepreneurs and accepting work below their skill level.
Gen Zers are joining a booming economy and expect to start authentic careers.
Gen Z gets to enjoy the results of millennial efforts to address things like work-life balance, family oriented leave policies, corporate social responsibility and use of external technologies for work purposes. The Gen Z focus is on things like financial security and job stability, positive work environment, breadth and depth of diversity and the company's brand reputation. The new workforce members are interested in opportunities for professional growth and in moving around in different roles in a company. Connected to this need for interesting, varied work is the fact Gen Z is more project oriented.
technology at the heart of recruiting and assessing gen zers
Technology must play a large role in recruiting and assessing Gen Zers. The quality of the technology has a major influence on the Gen Zer's perspective of your company. Dell Technologies surveyed 12,000 Gen Z students in 17 countries, and technology was at the core of many of their needs. Eighty percent want to work with cutting edge technology, and 91 percent are attracted to companies that offer technology. However, only 52 percent are confident they have good technology skills but lack confidence in their non-tech skills.
Hiring assessments using cutting-edge technology can serve three important purposes specific to Gen Z:
- Presents the company as technology-based, making the business attractive to job applicants
- Can identify personality traits and cognitive skills to determine if the person is a good culture fit
- Can assess tech and non-tech skills
Following are a few guidelines for hiring assessments in context of Gen Z needs:
- Use technology from the beginning to end of the talent management system – recruiting, pre-hire assessment, onboarding, training and development, and communication
- Present assessments in the entertaining form that Gen Z expects, like video simulations and interactive programs
- Embed a positive strong brand in all programs and presentations
- Integrate information about the company's social responsibility in various assessments, videos and simulations
- Assess the ability to manage projects and problem solve because Gen Z wants this type of work
- Assess the level of need for multi-tasking, something Gen Zers are used to experiencing due to technology, to determine abilities and whether you can meet the need level preferred
- Assess communication and social skills because Gen Z has relied so much on technology that social skills involving face-to-face interactions or engaging others may be under-developed
- Perform personality testing because Gen Zers are young and likely seeking their first full-time jobs, meaning employers need to identify the person's level of adaptability, attitude and organizational culture fit (i.e. team player, collaborative, independent thinker, etc.)
- Assess cognitive skills, like creativity, planning and organizing skills and critical thinking abilities because personality and cognitive testing, along with simulations, together are stronger indicators of performance than an interview
The employment assessment tests help you identify the right Gen Z talent. They are also a major source of informative analytics and can make it easier to pinpoint the changes your organizations needs to make to accommodate yet another generation of employees.
enthusiastic and motivated
Many Gen Zers are applying for entry-level positions, like a call center representative. This offers you a tremendous opportunity to employ enthusiastic, motivated people with the potential to become long-term employees. While Gen Zers want job stability, they also want goal-driven work that leads to professional advancement. They are willing to move on to other jobs, if the job or the employer does not meet expectations. It is time to review your talent system, including the assessment process, and ensure it considers the new generation of employees.