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Generation Y

Trends In Attracting And Engaging The Next Generation

Despite the fact that Baby Boomers are retiring at a fast clip and the workforce is undergoing a serious makeover, many companies and associations are failing to embrace the next generation.

Despite the fact that Baby Boomers are retiring at a fast clip and the workforce is undergoing a serious makeover, many companies and associations are failing to embrace the next generation.

By as soon as next year, the majority of the workforce will be in their twenties, so it’s getting to be about time you learned how to engage the next generation. It’s not easy, especially for those unwilling to embrace major changes, but it can be done. Your organization needs to be paying attention to and acting on the trends in attracting and engaging the next generation.

RULES OF ATTRACTION

To attract young talent to your organization, you need to look where the talent actually is. That might mean updating your HR practices, because talent isn’t hanging out in the same places (but a lot of HR departments are). An alarming number of HR departments have not updated their recruiting techniques. Organizations need to invest in training human resources departments to keep everyone up to date because the landscape of the workforce has changed drastically. Attraction of talent needs to be at the top of HR’s to-do list, and they need the right tools to do that.

As the economy continues to improve, attracting talent will only get more difficult, and the game is changing. Big data and social media are two factors drastically shaking up the talent acquisition game. Human resources departments need to use both data and social media strategically to find and attract talent. Competing for top talent will require focusing on attracting talent and investing in training and technology.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

The next generation of employees want to be engaged at work–they’re looking for an experience. If you can’t engage your employees, you can’t keep them. Google has a low turnover because they are engaging their employees and providing an experience. You don’t have to be Google to compete, but you may need to work on company culture and reconsider how and where work gets done. Eighty-nine percent of Gen Y wants to decide when and where they will work for your company.

Loyalty goes both ways, and if you want Gen Y employees to invest in your organization, you need to invest in them. Invest in yourself and engage your employees by developing their talents and building leaders from within. Leadership shortage is getting to be a big problem for many organizations; it’s time to redefine where leadership comes and focus on building them from the ranks of existing employees. Doing this will engage your employees and help your organization become sustainable.

By next year, Generation Y will outnumber Baby Boomers in the workforce. Our workforce is shifting, and how we attract and engage talent is changing too. You’ve probably noticed this shift. To remain competitive you need young talent. Start making necessary changes to attract and engage the next generation now.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.

 

Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.

 

Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.

 

Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

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