Dr. Colleen Batchelder

Is Your Company Generation Z Ready? Find Out Here.

I get it.

You just finished organizing your office space for Millennials. You moved out the cubicles, created an open floor plan, and even added a splash of color to the walls. Shouldn’t this be enough to appease the next generation? Not exactly.

Generation Z wants more than a WeWork layout with a Tim Cook vision. Now, there’s nothing wrong with Apple. For years, they were the pinnacle example of generational cool.

But, Generation Z isn’t looking for a trendy office space. After all, have you seen the latest fashion trends? I don’t think anyone would label oversized jeans, denim jumpers, and spandex as trendy or fashion-forward.

Generation Z wants more than a cool office space.

Organic yogurt bars might have attracted Millennials to your company ten years ago. But, it’s not impressing younger generations.

So, is your company is ready for Generation Z?

Here are five things that you need to know if you want to gain their attention and their applications.

RELATED: 4 Things to Check to Create an Inclusive Company. Number 3 Might Surprise You.

Generation Z Doesn’t Want To be A Part Of A Tribe

Unlike Millennials, Generation Z isn’t looking to belong. If anything, they’re obsessed with standing out and bringing their unique perspective to their Tik Tok and their workplaces.

Generation Z isn’t looking to be a part of a tribe, wear the same corporate branding, or greet their coworkers with the identical secret handshake.

Millennials might have wanted their workplace to feel like a community. But, Generation Z values individual expression, not group conformity. They don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses or the Kardashians for that matter. If anything, they’d rather hang out with Billie Eilish or Greta Thunberg and talk about something with substance. Not Who Wore It Best.

Look, I’m not knocking Millennials. After all, I am one.

But, one of the main differences between these two generations is their ideology of belonging. Millennials still see community as the ultimate goal. They value relationships, family, and being a part of a bigger picture. Generation Z sees value in being one of many, but they want more than to be a part of the puzzle.

RELATED: GENERATION Z DOESN’T TRUST YOUR BUSINESS: HERE ARE 4 REASONS WHY

Generation Z Will Not Trust You Right Away

Generation Z are survivalist.

Millennials might have been shaped by the mass shooting at Columbine, but they can remember a time where school was safe and people could be trusted. Younger generations did not have that privilege.

Since childhood, Generation Z has lived through at least 2,000 people who have been killed or injured in mass shootings. Younger generations cannot identify a time without violence.

In many ways, Generation Z was shaped by their preference for individuality. In their mind, survival and success are not about trusting in a tribe, but relying on yourself.

This is why, they’re not interested in copying their older siblings. They don’t see the world like their Millennial counterparts.

Generation Z wants to bring their own style, expression, and ideas to the table. And they expect companies to listen and learn from their experience and perspective from day one.

If companies want to be Generation Z ready, they need to think and operate differently.

In many ways, they need to approach this generation with open hands and let them come to them in their own time.

Generation Z wants to work with companies that are upfront and consistent. So, before you invest millions of dollars on self-help gurus, yoga retreats, and light shows, you might want to reconsider your audience. Generation Z only wants one thing: for you to be yourself and invite your employees to do the same.

Generation Z Expects to Work From Anywhere

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us the value of experience.

I miss meeting with friends, going into the city, and grabbing a Shake Shack burger, but more importantly, I miss spontaneity. There’s something about buying cheap seats on a flight and immersing myself into a new adventure.

The pandemic has shifted the way that we work and the expectation of Generation Z employees. They don’t see the need for office space when they have the freedom to work from anywhere.

Will society return back to some type of normal? absolutely. Will Generation Z want to go backwards? Absolutely not.

When you’re working with Generation Z, you have to realize that this generation views life without boundaries. Since childhood, if they wanted to learn how to code, create a podcast, or design a home, all they had to do was open their laptop or phone. With one click, they had access to everything they wanted to know through Youtube, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, or Thinkific.

Generation Z wants variety in the workplace.

If you want to be Generation Z ready, you need to invite this generation to shape the future of your organization. They don’t want options. They want the opportunity to create and color outside of the lines.

Generation Z isn’t interested in only being a student. They want the chance to teach.

They Don’t See the Purpose of A 40-Hour Workweek

Generation Z doesn’t see the point of working hourly. If anything, they see the 9-5 workday as a waste of time. And they’re right.

If you look at the numbers, it doesn’t make sense to hire employees hourly anymore. Especially when the majority of Millennials and Generation Z value flexibility. They prefer their vocation to be diverse and entrepreneurial and their work to be broken down into projects and deadlines, instead of hourly tasks.

Generation Z is willing to work hard, but they want to create their own schedule. They don’t care if they work until midnight. It’s more important to them that they have the freedom to define their own hours and have a work-life balance.

So, when you’re looking over your company layout, ask yourself these four questions:

  • Am I offering my employees flexibility?
  • Am I giving my team enough space to build trust?
  • Are there opportunities for self-expression and individuality?
  • Am I offering my employees the chance to take their work on the road?

If your company wants to be Generation Z ready, you need to realize that square pegs and won’t fit into circular holes. This generation is not going to change their form to meet your company’s narrative. The only way to attract Generation Z is to speak their language and resonate with their values.

As a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and Leadership Strategist, Dr. Colleen Batchelder helps leaders create companies where Millennials want to work. Her doctoral background in leadership and global perspectives gives her an added edge because she approaches generational dissonance from all directions, including from an anthropological, theological, sociological, and ethnographic lens. Connect with Dr. Batchelder on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. 
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