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Generation Z in the workplace

Horoscopes divide people according to their birthdates. People who are born in a certain period are supposed to share characteristics and have set compatibilities. These divisions are highly disputed; some say they are as accurate as science, others call them total hokum, but nonetheless they are widely accepted by the general public and to some extent stereotyped – Leos are impulsive and bold, Cancerians are overly sensitive, Tauruses are relentless and Pisces are highly intuitive.

It’s easier to deal with people (especially ones you don’t know very well) if you can somehow fit them into a familiar category. HR professionals don’t draw charts of the sky or rely on astrology. They run interviews, give out questionnaires and evaluate people before labelling them. The date of birth does not seem all that important but it is. It’s what makes employees fit into a certain demographic.

This does not take note of the position of the planets but cares about everything else going on – political and economic climate, major events, influential personalities and many other relevant factors that determine how people born and raised in a certain time frame think and act.

Millennials vs Gen Z

Millennials have already proved to have a major impact on today’s workforce. They questioned, tested and changed pretty much everything. Motivated only by true purpose and with a keen sense of what a good work-life balance should look like, Millennials brought about a big shift in the way employers recruit, train and retain their workforce. Raised in a digital world, this generation is all about doing things better and faster while continuously improving.

Read more: 3 Steps towards a continuous learning culture

They are the majority of the working individuals today and just as their ways have become more or less the norm in most corporations a newer generation is making its way in and shows great promise of bringing about an even bigger revolution.

They are the Generation Z.

At this point they are said to be born from 1996 to 2015 but the end year is yet to be determined – so when I say they are the young generation, I really mean some of them are very, very young.

However, studies show that they are almost totally different from Millennials. Generation Z shows the characteristics of a "throwback generation", as many of them already hold jobs, are good at saving money and seem adamant not to be anything like the previous generation. 77% of Gen Z currently earn their own spending money through freelance work, a part time job, or earned allowance. That’s astounding if you think that the other 23% is still in diapers or not very far from that age.

Where they stand on technology

Where technology is concerned, generation Z didn’t grow up with it, they found it at a very advanced stage and got immersed in it right away. Their lives have been on social media, for most of them, with the first breath they took. Keyboards seem obsolete to them as do laptops or memory sticks (it’s kind of how floppy disks feel like to Millennials).

Gen Z is also very good at web-based research and frequently self-educates from popular online venues such as YouTube and Pinterest. They have the capacity to learn anything from simple stuff as how to make a good chocolate cake to very complex processes such as making big changes to their computer software or altering a car engine to improve its capacity.

That is the power of video and virtual reality.

They still have some general knowledge about classic research methods, they may even hold a library card, but they are used to having everything (especially information) delivered with high speed – it’s even more of an issue with them than accuracy is.

Since most generation Z members are still very young, many of their adult characteristics are yet to be discovered. However, early indications are that they are increasingly self-aware, self-reliant, prone towards innovation and focused on their goals. They also appear to be a lot more pragmatic than their Millennial predecessors, caring about their finances and their future from very early on.

An innovative generation of artists

While some things about the Z Generation are still to be figured out, it’s clear that they cannot be separated from their internet connected devices and their apps. Even though teens admit technology causes them a lot of problems, they also hold the opinion that this unprecedented access to information makes them unique — and to some extent better — than the generations who came before them.

Their career interests are also very different from those of their Millennial predecessors. A fifth want to major in creative fields, like dance or graphic design. At 16% each, health and engineering shared second-place popularity. Business, other science fields, and liberal arts majors trailed behind.

Generation Z in the workplace

It’s clear that they will have a huge impact once they enter the workforce. Hiring them, onboarding and training them will pose unprecedented challenges for HR and L&D departments. But with the right mindset and tools, any workplace can be prepared for this new generation of workers.

Regardless of their zodiac sign, their stars have been aligned to make for a fast internet connection. Keep an eye on the Business Blog! Next time we'll share a few tips on how to treat workforce in training program. So stay tuned!