Generation Z: needy or savvy?  

| Hamilton, Ontario
Contributed by Frances Tuer - assistant professor of human resources management

Generation ZA new report from Ranstad/Ipsos Reid suggests that Generation Z (born 1995 -2014) will add even more complexity to the generational diversity that currently exists in today’s workplaces. Postsecondary educators may already be sensing the change as we encounter Gen Z in our undergraduate classrooms. In the last two years I have personally noticed higher expectations from students that I provide them with both structure (management) and support (mentoring).

On the one hand this could be viewed as “neediness” with a kneejerk response that they “need to grow up” and “stand on their own feet”. However, generational diversity research suggests that the attitudes and behaviours of each generation are shaped by key events and experiences during the formative years.

What this generation has observed is a growth in contingent and precarious employment for adults and fewer opportunities for youth employment. In that case seeking reduction of ambiguity, some sense of order, and development of capabilities makes a lot of sense.

What it means for managers

The Randstad/Ipsos Reid report also points out increased expectations for excellent communication skills on the part of those who seek to lead and direct them. This also makes sense because they cannot and will not see you as a credible manager/mentor unless you are interesting, informative and can show them how what you are asking of them is relevant to them.

According to the report you should also show some awareness of social media, although they don’t certainly do not want you as a friend on Facebook or Instagram! Bottom line – they are already here – in part-time jobs, internships/co-ops and soon to arrive looking for full-time employment. Whether you see them as “needy” or “savvy” they will only work for those who are willing to understand them and help them reach their goals. Managers and educators should compare notes and work together to develop effective strategies to integrate Generation Z into our multigenerational workforces.

(video and image courtesy of Randstad)

Born in Manchester England, Frances Tuer‘s research interests include diversity/diversity management, teams, and perceptions of trustworthiness. Prior to coming into academia, she worked for fifteen years in retail banking and as a self-employed small business consultant.

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