8 Ways to Prepare For Generation Z in the Workplace

10/28/2016 06:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Buckle up, employers! The first wave of Generation Z is graduating from college, and they'll soon be making their way to a cubicle near you - or they may be launching their own businesses and luring you away from your current position.

As Gen Z gets ready to hit the job market, all indications are that this group is about to change the American workforce as we know it.

Are you ready for them? Probably not.

A recent survey by Monster shows that Generation Z, currently 60 million strong and considered to be roughly between elementary and college age, will undoubtedly change every employer's recruiting tactics. After all, Gen Z will rapidly outnumber Gen Y (also known as Millennials) and Baby Boomers.

A look at the data surrounding this group of up-and-comers shows that they are more self-reliant, tech savvy and ambitious than previous generations. Read on to find out how your business can engage the upcoming Gen Z job curve.

1. Plan for more face-to-face communication.

Generation Z is the first group of true digital natives; they have never known a world without constant connectivity. However, what they truly desire is face-to-face conversations.

In fact, one study shows that 51 percent of Gen Zers say they privilege in-person communication over text messages or emails.

Having smartphones in hand 24/7 has taught them the value of a human connection and having a real conversation - no emoticons necessary!

Takeaway: Managers who truly want to connect with their youngest employees will take the time to talk in person and hear them out.

2. Recognize employee loyalty.

Having been raised by recession-weary parents or witnessed older siblings bounce from job to job without ever really getting ahead, Gen Z is seeking more stability in their careers.

In fact, they only plan to change jobs an average of 3 or 4 times over the course of their careers, and prefer employers who are worth their loyalty.

Once hired, they want to earn a long-term spot and continue to grow and move through the ranks.

Takeaway: Employers can cultivate a culture of loyalty if they nurture these newbies and offer avenues for them to excel in the workplace.

3. Offer constant feedback.

For Gen Zers, almost as important as a salary dripping in zeros are opportunities for advancement.

They appreciate managers who not only take a genuine interest in their careers and offer mentorship, but also take the time to listen to their ideas.

Takeaway: Gen Zers want their ideas heard, but they also desire constructive feedback on how they are doing. Studies show that they seek guidance, direction and support. Helping them progress and acquire new skills is a great way to gain their loyalty for the long term.

4. Embrace a tech-centered workplace.

If you are relying on ancient technology (i.e., 5 to 10 years old), don't be shocked when Gen Z scoffs at your workplace systems.

Remember, this generation has grown up in a world that is constantly advancing and changing. To them, tech is simply part of how the world operates.

They view technology as part of the infrastructure that allows them to stay connected and work efficiently.

They will feel stifled in a workplace that doesn't keep pace with basic upgrades.

Takeaway: If you want to attract bright young up-and-comers, you're going to need to give them the necessary tools.

5. Reevaluate formal education.

Along with constant access to the internet, this generation has become a group of continual learners who absorb and process information faster than any previous generation.

This means that their brains are wired differently, so don't expect them to learn the same way you did when you were in school.

Homeschooling and alternative-learning classrooms are becoming the norm among households raising Generation Z children. This generation is also the first to have access to massive open online courses (MOOCS), allowing them to gain an education at no cost.

As a result, many Gen Zers will be educated in environments that are very different from traditional college settings.

Takeaway: It's time to embrace alternative forms of education. Remember that an education will always be important, no matter what form it takes. The upside is that learning in a non-formal environment has made Gen Z better at being self-directed and self-motivated.

6. Provide work flexibility.

This generation wants to make a difference at work and in the world in general. They are willing to put in the time and effort to make big things happen.

But growing up in a fast-paced, technology-driven environment also means they have little patience for wasting time or putting in 9-to-5 hours when it's not necessary. They subscribe to the adage of "work smart, not hard."

Takeaway: Allow them to be flexible in how they put their time in. You may be surprised when modified work days or customized hours create a more dynamic, energetic and efficient workforce. Plus, you will likely increase work morale. The result will be happier employees who are less likely to leave.

7. Foster a collaborative environment.

While Gen Z may be more independent and entrepreneurial than previous generations, they are also good at playing with others.

They enjoy collaborating with co-workers and prefer environments where there is multilevel participation and contribution.

One study shows that 41 percent of Gen Zers say they prefer to work in a corporate office, because doing so allows them greater access to and direct communication with their co-workers and managers.

Takeaway: Fostering an environment where co-workers can feed off each other's ideas will help projects gain momentum and build a more creative workplace.

8. Expect a desire for career growth.

As the youngest generation is beginning to enter the workforce, they are hyper-aware that they are the newbies on the block (or in the office).

But that won't stop them from having grand plans. This generation has high aspirations.

They are happy to put in the time and effort to get there, but they expect their efforts to be rewarded and their careers to grow.

Nurture Gen Z workers and help them get ahead when they have earned it. They don't mind working hard to get there, and will be loyal employees if you recognize their potential.

In return, you'll get self-motivated go-getters who will not only think outside of the box; they'll reinvent it altogether.