While it may feel like busi­ness­es are still reel­ing from adapt­ing to the work­ing mil­len­ni­al, the next gen­er­a­tion is already knock­ing on the HR door. The Soci­ety for Human Resource Man­age­ment went straight to a 16-year old source to see what is on the work­place horizon.

Here are a few trends and some poten­tial take­aways for employers.

Gen Z is com­pet­i­tive, raised on more per­va­sive youth sports and reg­u­lar­ly remind­ed just how  hard it is to get into elite col­leges. These go-get­ters are used to imme­di­ate feed­back. HR depart­ments will be wise to con­sid­er how to offer qual­i­ty, action­able feed­back to these employ­ees. On the one hand, rig­or­ous coach­ing and par­ent invest­ment means Gen Z can take tips on how to improve and even han­dle tough crit­i­cism, some­thing mil­len­ni­als are seen to strug­gle with. Even bet­ter, the com­pet­i­tive nature of Gen Z will make them want to work to suc­ceed. To sup­port these employ­ees, mean­ing­ful, reg­u­lar feed­back will be nec­es­sary. Now is a good time to start cre­at­ing the plans for the sys­tems and process­es that will offer per­for­mance reviews, project cri­tiques, and more. Work­ers who appre­ci­ate struc­ture and goals are great for busi­ness, but HR will also need to pro­tect young work­ers from burnout as they attempt to suc­ceed and even over­achieve in their first years working.

As chil­dren of Gen Xers, Gen Z reflects their par­ents’ skep­ti­cism and indi­vid­u­al­ism. This is a marked shift from the ide­al­ism and col­lab­o­ra­tive approach of mil­len­ni­als. The tight labor mar­kets of recent times have meant con­cert­ed efforts to court mil­len­ni­als. Cur­rent trends toward open office plans, casu­al envi­ron­ments, and cross-dis­ci­pline teams may need to be refined as these two gen­er­a­tions being to mix around the water cool­er. The group project men­tal­i­ty of mil­len­ni­als is more the one-per­son show of Gen Z. Nei­ther world­view is inher­ent­ly bet­ter, but help­ing the youngest work­ers work well with oth­ers will be impor­tant to inte­grat­ing them into suc­cess­ful teams and pre­vent­ing con­flict. Offer­ing men­tor­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, which pro­vide mean­ing for expe­ri­enced mil­len­ni­als and feed­back to improve­ment-hun­gry Gen Z may be one idea. At the same time, ensur­ing there are ample oppor­tu­ni­ties to shine as indi­vid­u­als will tap into Gen Z’s poten­tial and enthusiasm.

While they hope their jobs are engag­ing, this gen­er­a­tion is seen as more prag­mat­ic and fis­cal­ly con­ser­v­a­tive. They want to feel on sol­id finan­cial foot­ing even more than they want to feel good about their work. For the future of employ­ee ben­e­fits and perks, it may be a dol­lars and cents approach which lures the most attrac­tive young work­ers rather than bring­ing a dog to work or cul­ture-build­ing ele­ments like foos­ball or ping pong.

Whether we’re ready or not, Gen Z is com­ing. Pay­ing atten­tion to gen­er­a­tion shifts may leave employ­ers eager but feel­ing over­whelmed to keep up. Not every­thing needs to change, and you may just find some changes are good for every­one. Find ways to adapt what’s already work­ing for your com­pa­ny, adjust what can be adjust­ed to appeal to new work­ers, and be ready to imple­ment new ideas that just may help your entire work­force, too.

by Bill Olson
Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on UBABenefits.com