Gen Z, also known as the iGen or post-millennials, has grown up. Born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z makes up 32 percent of the world's population.

They are young, they are energetic, and they are driven. They are now joining other generations in the workplace.

How they are different from other generations

They are different from the previous generations in various ways, including:

  • Grown up from the Great Recession, they are less likely to take risks. For example, teenagers of this generation are less likely to have tasted alcohol or had sex when compared to the previous generations of the same age.
  • Financial security is important to Gen Z. 82 percent of today’s freshmen in college prioritize “becoming well off,” whereas only 36 percent of their grandparents said so in 1970.
  • They are not too interested in starting up a new business for financial security reasons, probably also because they are less likely to take risks.
  • They are less willing to take on student loans.
  • They understand the diversity of race as they went to school with a diverse group of students. More Gen Zers classify themselves as “others” or “mixed” than other generations. They are more open-minded to different perspectives.
  • They are more adaptable to changes and able to keep up with the technologies.
  • They are comfortable in learning things online, especially on videos; 66 percent of Gen Zers find how-to information on YouTube.

What they want in a job or career

As Gen Z is different from the previous generations, their expectations may or may not align with other generations, especially millennials:

  • They appreciate such “traditional” work benefits as healthcare and tuition reimbursement and show less interest in a workplace with sleeping pods or Ping-Pong tables.
  • They want to feel safe at work.
  • They are more optimistic, of which 50 percent of the college students being surveyed believe in the American dream, and 52 percent believe they would live a better life than their parents.
  • They rely less on face-to-face communications/meetings but are good at utilizing technologies to communicate or discuss issues and even some important topics.
  • They want their employers to show a continuous commitment to a good cause, not just a one-time effort.
  • They also want the company’s purpose to align with their personal purpose.
  • They want to be heard and empowered.
  • They want continuous feedback, even if the feedback was communicated on social media.
  • They want flexibility at work, which could mean a schedule that is different from a 9-to-5 one.

How to attract and recruit Gen Z

With what they want in mind, companies must adjust their recruitment strategies in attracting the top talents in Gen Z. For example,

  • Companies must establish a strong employment brand on the internet. That could mean companies should go beyond a LinkedIn page or a Facebook page; they must maintain a positive image as an ideal employer across different online communities.
  • Companies must highlight the purpose and the mission of their business as they communicate with the stakeholders.
  • Companies may consider offering structured internship programs to college students.
  • Companies must show genuine interest in the candidates and are willing to work with them in developing a personalized career plan.

How to retain Gen Z

Getting Gen Z into the door is one thing; keeping them engaged is another. I recommend companies to consider the following tactics:

  • To prioritize work safety in the companies.
  • To consider redesigning the tasks performed at work, allowing more flexibility in scheduling and even work responsibilities.
  • To reassess the benefit packages. It is critical to tie employees’ compensation directly with their performance. A raise solely based on seniority, even with a collective bargaining contract, does not work.
  • To enrich their experience with cross-organization exposure (e.g., working temporarily with a new team on a special project).
  • To provide relevant training opportunities; it is also important to offer Gen Z multiple options to access the training materials, such as utilization of mobile apps and on-demand services.
  • To coach (but not necessarily teach) Gen Z how to perform at work.
  • To consider implementing a new social media policy, giving employees more freedom to express themselves in an open environment.

The bottom line is Gen Zers are human beings, too. It might seem they are different from the previous generations at work, but many of the tactics listed above may also appeal to the older generations as well.

Would you agree? What can companies do to build a good work environment for Gen Z, as well as the other generations?