One of the biggest questions on the minds of everyone in human capital management is: How will we prepare for the arrival of the next generation of employees? What strategies will be effective for recruiting them, engaging them and pushing them to maximize their potential? Every time a new demographic group arrives in the workforce, the “war for talent” turns into a high-speed race to answer these questions.
The HCM community has already spent countless hours studying boomers, Generation X and millennials, trying to figure out what makes them tick. And now, a new generation is on the horizon.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the next generation to watch is Gen Z, also known as “globals.” These are individuals born after 1999. They came of age amid a time of financial uncertainty, as the collapse of the housing market and the ensuing recession shaped their upbringing. Now, they’re beginning to become mature adults and enter the workforce.
Jeff Hiller, director of learning and development at JB Training Solutions in Chicago, told SHRM that globals are far different from boomers in terms of how they obtain information and develop intellectually.
“If you were lucky and rich, your parents bought a $400 encyclopedia set that was out of date as soon as it was printed,” Hiller said of the previous generation.
With globals, that’s not the case. They’ve grown up with all the technology they need right at their fingertips, and as a result, they’re highly capable and often independent-minded.
They’re also getting ready to look for work. Those born in 1999 are turning 17 this year, which means graduation is right around the corner. So what is this new generation like? What kinds of employees will they be? What do you need to know?
The following, according to SHRM, are five key traits found in the global generation:
An independent streak
Hiller found that many globals didn’t grow up in a home with both parents, and they also came of age during an era when women have fought for equal work and pay. Both factors have contributed to a “fend for yourself” mentality, he said.
A lot of (pricy) education
The average boomer only had 12 years of education before entering the workforce, while the average global is on track to rack up closer to 16. This means they have a lot of knowledge – but also a lot of debts to pay off.
A well-rounded background
Many globals do more than just earn degrees and get jobs – they also add to their resumes with additional experiences like internships and volunteer gigs. In the near future, job candidates will have much more well-rounded personal histories.
A little skepticism
Having better technology means having the wherewithal to question and fact-check everything. This generation no longer believes everything they’re told – they’re skeptical, and they look for proof first.
Willingness to question authority
Because they have so much experience, education and knowledge, today’s young people think fairly highly of themselves. They’re less likely to revere bosses than a prior generation was. Instead, they view everyone equally, with no one placed on any pedestals.