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Are you ready to hire (and manage) Gen Z?

Chances are, you’ve just gotten used to working with Millennials, but it’s already time to start thinking about the next generation of employees. A new crop of 21-and-unders are pushing open your doors, demanding jobs and exciting opportunities. All those kids coming out of beauty school are the oldest members of Gen Z, and they are very different from the Millennials you’ve adapted to in the last decade.

To lure these ambitious youngsters into the industry and, more specifically, into your company, you will need to recalibrate the messaging and management practices you developed for Millennials, and here’s why:

  • Gen Z witnessed their parents and families struggle through the Great Recession, which critically affected them. Thus, they are pragmatic and cautious, wanting careers that have both financial and job security. They are also very entrepreneurial, as long as it pays off financially.
  • Maturing in the wake of a recession – and a troubled world – has shaped their desires. They don’t just want to do a job and raise a family; they want to make a difference and be successful.
  • Patience is no virtue in their eyes, they aren’t going to wait around on the periphery. They will demand instant involvement, to be accepted as a decision-maker who is invited to meetings, brought into the inner circle, and is an active contributor.
  • Forget the six-month review; that won’t work. These guys have been managing their own brand online since they could hold a smartphone, and they have different expectations. They are self-starters and self-learners, always looking for instant feedback so they can learn. They want to know what they are doing wrong as they are doing it, so they can learn – this means giving them feedback in real time.
  • One of the most positive traits of Gen Z is their fearlessness – they are not afraid to get it wrong. They know they don’t know it all, but they expect you to give them the tools to aid their development.
  • This means they are constantly open to test different ways of doing things, they want variety and opportunity. You can’t fob them off with the same old, same old.
  • They recognize BS from a mile away, and demand honesty and transparency. The best employers will give it to them.
  • Unlike Millennials, who were all about collaborative practices and joint decision-making, these guys are super-competitive. They witnessed the collapses of the recession, and so recognize that there are winners and losers. They want to be winners but will not be destroyed if they lose. They want to be judged on their personal talent and contribution, not that of the ‘team’; they won’t be willing to carry people who don’t pull their weight.
  • Interestingly, there is an all-pervading sense among Gen Z that previous generations have complicated things – they want life and work to be simple, instant, personalized and authentic.
  • And, while they have grown up communicating digitally, they actually crave face-to-face communication in the workplace. As long as those conversations are short and to the point. Gen Z has an eight-second attention span, so you only have a brief opportunity to capture their attention. Make your communication count! Also – email is a dying art with Gen Z – consider replacing email with instant messaging and text messaging for internal communications.

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