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By Katrina Wilson
Sponsored by SBR Workplace Leadership Services
According to Forbes, in countries like the United States, Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. SBR Workplace Leadership Services founder Dr. Sabrina B. Ricks has information on how companies can handle the transition.
Who is Gen Z?
Many GenZers were born between 1995 and 2010. This means this year they are between the ages of 13 and 28 years old.
Dr. Ricks said there are about 61 million of that age group in the United States right now. “Within about 10 years, they’re going to dominate the workforce following behind the Millennials who dominate right now.”
Dr. Ricks said that this generation can be more practical and resourceful. This can be attributed to many of them seeing their parents in the 2008 recession lose jobs, homes and struggle financially.
She said this age group is tech-savvy and resolves technical problems. On top of that they are open-minded and expressive.
“They don’t mind sharing their ideas,” she said. “At the same time, they’re not confrontational.”
Dr. Ricks said in the workplace there are more generational differences that companies may see in the coming years.
“So what we tend to find as new generations come after the next and after the next is that the older generations always have bad things to say about the new generation,” she said. “It’s just the truth of it, no matter who it is.”
One of the concerns older generations have about GenZers is their lack of due diligence in verifying credibility – especially on Google. They go to Google to research and click the first link. They think the first source is enough, but Dr. Ricks said they need to learn to find credible sources and research past the first link.
She added that this generation is heavy on social media.
“Which means that you’re likely going to have to find a way to incorporate social media into their day-to-day work because it’s going to be very hard for you to pull them away from social media in an eight hour workday,” she said.
Dr. Ricks said this generation may not get their first job until they are in their 20s. She noted that previous generations would get a job as a teenager.
She warns that in the workplace, this set of individuals may not know about proper dress code, how to answer a phone or have strong customer service skills.
“They’re going to need a massive amount of training,” she said. “They’ll listen if you’re going to take the time to train them.”
Gen Z has Options
If GenZers notice a workplace does not fit them, they won’t hesitate to leave. This includes during the interview process. They know there are a lot of options out there. She added that they may not even give employers a two-week notice. Dr. Ricks said this can concern other generations in the workplace.
Dr. Ricks said COVID had some benefits for GenZers.
“Because they are already very technically savvy individuals, it’s given them an opportunity to use virtual platforms more,” she said.
This is helpful for introverted individuals. That virtual setting may have worked for introverted individuals because they may not have needed to unmute and talk on virtual calls. They could drop an idea in the chat.
“Or if we’re using some sort of a collaborative platform like Google Docs . . . I can type an idea on that collaborative platform,” Dr. Ricks said.
She noted that GenZers are close-knit with their families, especially after having been on lockdown for two or three years. She said many of them didn’t even get a chance to graduate from high school or college. A lot of them don’t want to leave home.
“Because there are so many remote jobs they can stay home and keep working from home, and that’s advantageous for them,” she said.
Welcome Gen Z
Tips Dr. Ricks said may help welcome this cohort:
“Get a welcome banner and place balloons on their desk their first day,” she said. “You have to make this group feel like they belong.”
Inclusiveness and belonging are important because they may leave if they don’t see it.
Higher-ups need an open-door policy and to not seem so cut off. A CEO or President needs to help this group feel like they can interact with their employer.
Another important thing for Gen Z is mental health.
“You need to be able to support mental health. Because of the challenges that many of this group face coming out of Covid, dealing with the isolation and everything that they were experiencing . . . there’s a lot of social anxiety that built up for this group getting used to being on camera as opposed to being face-to-face. So you have to be sensitive to the mental health challenges that they may have,” she said.
Other notable things are flexibility at work, offering plenty of soft skills training, and setting an expectation.
SBR Workplace Leadership Services is owned and operated by Dr. Sabrina Ricks. A key part of Dr. Ricks’ work involves creating policies and procedures to protect employees from bullying at work. For the last eight years, she has been an associate professor in the business and student development departments at Northern Virginia Community College.