Who Are Generation Z?
Generation Z, Gen Z or iGen are people who were born from 1995 onwards. The oldest of this generation are 23 years old. Gen Z’s were born into the period of terrorism, the global recession and climate change. This has shaped who they are, how they show up in the world and what is important to them.
Gen Z are beginning to make their presence known as they start to enter the workforce.
Are you ready for them?
What You Need To Know About Generation Z
This is huge for Gen Z.
Same sex marriage, fluid gender identities and racial differences are part of everyday life for Gen Z.
They view gender and sexuality on a spectrum. It isn’t simply male or female, gay or straight. Transgender, non-binary, gender fluidity, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, multiracial communities – this is their world.
They want to see this representation throughout the whole organisation when they enter the workplace.
They want to see corporate leadership supporting equality-based causes outside of work, as well as within the work environment.
And when they enter the workplace they are looking for employers that welcome diversity and live it every day.
Gen Z want to know they are making an impact. Social impact. For the greater good. They want to know they are contributing to something besides their own personal ambition.
They are keenly aware of justice issues: poverty, human trafficking, refugees, racism etc.
And they are fired up to make a difference in the world.
Gen Z are fully connected via technology and social media. They don’t know a world without the internet or mobile phones. Don’t have WiFi. “Seriously? Are you for real?”
Is Your Organisation Ready For Generation Z?
- Are your current workforce trained on gender and sexual identities and comfortable with gender fluidity?
- Do you have a culture of inclusion across the board in your organisation?
- Do you actively live your equality, diversity and inclusion policies?
- Do you have representation throughout your organisation?
- Do you promote and encourage social impact?
- Are you clear about your organisational values and do you actively live them every day?
- Is freedom and flexibility fully embedded in the working culture?
- Do you have the technology in place to enable all staff to work location independently?
How To Prepare For Generation Z
Inclusion and Equality
Inclusion creates a culture where individuals come to work and can be their true self, feel celebrated and supported and as a result, perform at their best.
Gen Z want to freely express who they are and want to feel comfortable doing so. They don’t want to hide their gender or sexual identity for fear of the older workforce ‘not getting it’ or treating them differently.
Diversity and inclusion is key to fully engaging Gen Z in your organisation.
Culture changes and education of your existing workforce takes time. NOW is the time to prepare your current workforce for the impact of Generation Z employees entering the workplace.
- Create and implement a culture of inclusion throughout the business. Encourage all staff to actively contribute to an inclusive working environment – where every employee can bring their whole self to work, without fear or modifying behaviour.
- Raise awareness within the workplace of LGBT+ inclusion strategies.
- Facilitate discussions around LGBT+ issues in the workplace.
- Challenge the gender and sexual identity norms in your workplace and any stereotypical or gender-based language and expectations.
Any organisation serious about Diversity and Inclusion aims to create a culture where their people can bring all of who they are to work so they can perform and be at their personal best.
Recruitment: if you have had the same interview process and questions for the last 20 years, it may be time to review your interview process. Ensure you are engaging your prospective employees in discussions around purpose, developing their skills, collaboration, leadership opportunities, career growth, long-term projects, their entrepreneurial flair, ongoing training, teaching and mentorship programmes. Oh, and be sure to embrace technology in the interview process.
Policies: Review your existing equality and diversity policies. Are all of your employees ‘covered’ by the current policies and procedures? Re-visit them to ensure they encapsulate gender identity, sexual identity and LGBT+ issues and detail the support available. Ensure you have a Transgender Support Policy and a Non-Binary Support Policy in place. LIVE these policies – don’t just let them sit there gathering dust.
Personal Information: Gen Z are very private. They are wary of sharing their personal information – unless it is clearly for marketing purposes! Get your record keeping and personal information documentation up to date. Gender and sexual identity information is present on application forms, surveys and monitoring forms. Most application forms force people to ‘out’ themselves with the use of traditional gender binary options. Ensure you are not ‘outing’ people by the language you use on your forms. Use inclusive gender options and have pronouns listed to select from.
Support: Raise awareness of the support available for all colleagues – what support is in place for them, who they can talk to confidentially and signpost to specialist support where appropriate.
- Train your existing staff regularly: gender identity, sexual identity, mental health, disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorder, physical, visual, intellectual, auditory etc), self-care practices.
- Talk openly about mental health. Gen Z are acutely aware of the importance of mental wellbeing. Provide the space to discuss mental health issues openly.
- Develop teaching capability for key members of the senior leadership team so they can educate and support managers with their LGBT+ staff.
- Select and recruit appropriate Inclusion allies.
- Be transparent and open with your workforce. Deliver what you say you will deliver. Know that Gen Z need to understand your reasons for salary and management choices for them to feel truly engaged and part of the organisation.
- Understand what their long term goals are and support them to get there. Talk regularly about career development with them.
- Provide mentorship programmes where they can engage one-to-one with their leaders.
- Give them regular feedback. They want to know how to develop.
- Provide regular training opportunities. Learning is key to them.
- Offer the best technology and connection. Be current and ensure it is up to speed.
How To Get The Best Out Of Generation Z
Communicate clearly the purpose and values of your organisation. Gen Z want to feel like an integral part of jointly building something meaningful.
Communicate the connection between their role and the social impact they are making.
Where possible, focus them on projects directly related to the company’s success.
Flexibility and Freedom
Gen Z don’t see a reason to be tied to an office. They are used to having internet access wherever they are. Give them the freedom to work from coffee shops, the library or their preferred environment. Gen Z want complete freedom, not just flexibility.
Gen Z learn best in person where they can have their thoughts heard.
Invite them to meetings. Face to face meetings.
They have a short attention span. As such, expect things to happen quickly and efficiently. Be sure you have streamlined your processes and use technology where meetings don’t need to be held face to face.
Provide them with opportunities for advancement – not a higher salary.
Gen Z prefer flat management structures and will choose an organisation that offers the opportunities to collaborate across the organisation to get things done.
Customise their job based on their interests and expertise. Don’t restrict them to only doing one thing. They like to be able to move around in an organisation so they can explore multiple opportunities.
Tap into their entrepreneurial spirit. Provide opportunities to make things, collaborate with them and encourage them to collaborate with others and educate them so they can build their expertise.
Provide regular Inclusion and Diversity training and LIVE your inclusion policies every day. For example, provide gender neutral bathrooms. Toilets without a sex assigned to the door are a clear sign that gender is a non-issue.
Gen Z. They are entering the workforce.
Expect a social, visual, technological and global individual.
Expect an inclusively minded individual.
Expect a determined, ready to learn, purpose driven individual.
They don’t represent the future. They are creating it.
Are you and your current workforce ready for them?
For more information about the work Gina does with organisations visit http://ginabattye.com/business.
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