Young hopeful businessman searching for his futureThe Key Characteristics of Generation Z and how they’ll impact talent management

We have generation X, we have generation Y, so why not have generation Z? Well, that’s exactly what is happening; thought leading marketers have identified the next generation of consumers that will soon be hitting the marketplace. There doesn’t seem to be an agreement on the exact dates of the post-millennial Gen Zs, but most commentators seem to put the generation Z folks as those born roughly between 1996 and 2010. This means that the early wave of Gen Zs (16-19 years) will have just hit the workplace and university and will start flowing into graduate recruiting schemes in the next two to three years.

So are you ready? Now, I am not suggesting that graduates and young workers will transform overnight, rendering your hiring processes defunct,  but there are subtle and pronounced differences to the post-millennial generation that should begin shaping your graduate recruitment strategy over the next few years. Below I have set out four key characteristics of Gen Z and how they’ll impact talent management.

1. Neo and Trinity.

While Gen Zs will fall short of being crusaders in cyberspace, they will be the most IT-savvy generation in the workplace today. They will have grown up in a highly advanced media and computer environment and will make the technology enabled Gen Ys look like Fred Flintstone. For them, technology might not be an exciting trend; it will simply be a way of life. They’ll rapidly engage with bleeding edge talent attraction and engagement technological processes, and perhaps, you’ll be able to make gamification stick in hiring in a way it has failed to with previous generations.

2. Self Determined

Another commentator and keynote speaker, Amy Lynch, points out that generations go in cycles, and that team-orientated generations like Gen Y tend to be followed by individualistic generations. She postulates that Gen Y’s became good team players, rule followers and students, as they grew up being closely directed by parents, coaches and teachers. She believes the pendulum will swing and that Gen Z will be more self determining and individualistic as they grew up in a less ‘coaching focused’ environment, which relied more on self discovery and self direction. So, Generation Z may be more attracted to entrepreneurialism, starting their own businesses and having more freedom to use their initiative in the workplace.

3. Constant Feedback

As a result of growing up in a technology enabled, information overloaded, instant messaging, high-speed world, Gen Z’s require constant feedback due to the immediacy that technology has given them and their attention span seems to be shorter than students from Gen Y, suggests a white paper from the California Teachers Association (CTA). This means that annual appraisals just won’t cut it for Gen Ys; you’ll need a much more dynamic, instant feedback system to keep this generation engaged.

4. Great multi-taskers but poor analysts

Generation Zs are multitaskers. The CTA white paper suggests it is the dominant trait characterizing the generation, because they have so many multimedia communication tools available to them at one time. So, while they may be great multi-taskers, there is concern that they may be getting a form of technology induced attention deficit disorder, meaning they will lack the patience and ability to analyze things that have depth or nuance.

So, are you ready for Generation Z?


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