What hiring managers need to know about the first wave of Gen Z employees

Though the majority of Gen Zers are still in their teens, the oldest members of the generation are now leaving college and looking for work that inspires them.


Generation Z, which represents anyone born from 1997 onward, is ready to enter the workforce. Though the majority of Gen Zers are still in their teens, the oldest members of the generation are now leaving college and looking for work that inspires them.

"As the Gen Z's hit the workforce it is important to understand how they think and what will motivate them as employees," says Kimberly Abhold, Division Manager for Beacon Hill's Associates Division in Chicago. "Knowing the 'how's' and 'why's' ultimately helps you be a successful boss and have dedicated and loyal employees, which in turn will add value to your organization."

They're not millennials

The Gen Zers currently entering the labor pool are the children of the oldest members of the millennial generation. They grew up in a post-9/11 world after the digital revolution was well underway.

As reported by CNBC, Gen Zers watched their parents struggle financially as a result of the 2008 economic collapse and mountainous student loan debt. As a result, this generation is very aware of the value of a dollar, and they understand that they can't rely on money to make them happy. In many regards, the unique upbringing of Gen Z has made them practical and compassionate.

They enjoy collaborative work experiences

Gen Zers have never known a world without mobile technology. As a result, they're comfortable with many types of communication, from instant chat to asynchronous messaging platforms. They have no problem using collaborative technology in the workplace, though they may use it more informally than previous generations.

When members of Gen Z came of age, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram had already shed their early forms and transitioned to the ubiquitous platforms we know them as today. Likewise, new platforms like Snapchat were changing the way people interact on social media. In the workplace, all of this experience with communication technology translates into a respect for collaboration and teamwork - though Gen Zers still like their personal achievements to be recognized.

Gen Zers are comfortable with many types of collaborative technology.

They embrace diversity

Gen Z is the most diverse generation to ever call the U.S. home. According to data from Pew Research, 48 percent of Gen Zers identified as a racial or ethnic minority in 2018, compared with 39 percent of Millennials in 2002 and 18 percent of baby boomers in 1968.

As a result, Gen Zers tend to be a little pickier when choosing employers. According to research from Ernst & Young, the top five factors Gen Zers consider to be very important in a prospective boss are:

  • Treating employees with respect.
  • Behaving ethically.
  • Fairly compensating and promoting people of all differences.
  • Communicating with transparency.
  • Making wise business decisions.

They respond well to continuous feedback

Like their millennial parents, Gen Zers respond positively to feedback that is given with regularity. They dislike situations where they don't fully understand how their work impacts current company goals.

Importantly, feedback given to Gen Zers needs to be actionable. Advice that is abstract or wholly critical is likely to be met with distaste. Gen Zers see the value of advice from more experienced professionals, and they want to act on it accordingly. Taking the time to set goals and reviewing progress toward them can be an effective way to manage Gen Z.

The oldest members of Gen Z are ready to join the workforce, and that means hiring managers need to understand how to appeal to them as job seekers. To optimize your recruitment process, connect with an expert at Beacon Hill today.

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