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It is forecasted that Generation Z (Gen Z), individuals born between 1997 and 2012, will comprise 30% of the workforce by 2030. By the turn of the decade, the oldest members of Gen Z will have approximately 10 years of full-time work experience on their resumes.
Generation Z will aspire to ascend to managerial and leadership roles at companies and organizations of all sizes. Before contemplating how to successfully and seamlessly pass the managerial torch to Gen Z, we must first understand who Gen Z is and what is important to them.
Gen Z is the most diverse and inclusive generation. In my ongoing surveys of Gen Z, nearly 35% claim the most important quality they seek in an employer is a corporate culture of diversity and inclusion. They rank diversity and inclusion in the workplace as more important than competitive salaries and benefits. Alyssa, an event marketer, said, “We want to work at a company whose workplace culture values our differences in race, gender, sexuality, and expertise.” Gen Zers grew up in communities of diverse collaboration on campus and in clubs. They crave diversity of thought, experiences, and ideas in the workplace.
Gen Z is the "Purpose Generation." They want to work for employers that prioritize purpose and where they will feel fulfilled and positive about the work they are doing and the company they work for. According to a survey from a leading Gen Z research company, Knit, 91% of Gen Zers claim they are more likely to work for a socially conscious company. In that same Knit survey, 74% of Gen Zers rank purpose ahead of a paycheck when it comes to employment. Michael, a recent Harvard University grad, added,
“Gen Zers want to work for companies that are truly doing good for the world. If we aren’t passionate about your brand’s mission and purpose, we are not going to work for you.”
Gen Zers are entrepreneurs who are launching start-up companies, side hustles, and non-profit charitable organizations. In my survey of Gen Zers, 23% associate themselves with the entrepreneur persona compared to other personas, including activists (19%) and advocates (10%).
As they ascend through the ranks, Gen Z is seeking opportunities outside their day-to-day responsibilities to launch new initiatives, explore new sources of revenue at the workplace, and contribute measurable business-building value to their employers.
Gen Z has adopted technology more rapidly than any previous generation. As the chief marketing officer of MTV said, “Gen Z is the first generation that swiped before they wiped.” They embrace tech innovations that make completing work more efficient and effective. Technology has also allowed Gen Z to remotely complete their assignments, whether in college or in their career, as the pandemic has shifted learning and employment. 42% of Gen Zers claim they want to lead their own business, 10 percentage points higher than all other working generations surveyed. With that, Gen Zers are seeking consistent advancements in office technology, and they are proposing tech solutions as they arrive at the workplace. Nearly a third (29%) believe a hybrid work situation is ideal, and 19% claim that working remotely full-time is most appealing. Katie, a public relations practitioner, claims,
“Employers have to stop living in the past. We, as employees, are adjusted to work-from-home or hybrid work. We want to feel supported, not watched. We want to feel empowered, not controlled.”
As this generation begins their careers, they are seeking mentors in addition to managers. Nearly half of the Gen Zers I surveyed (48%) seek employers to support them 100% in their career growth and advancement by providing the training to upskill and evolve as managers and leaders. Antonia, who has launched her career in advertising, stated,
“I strongly believe in having mentors, especially in the workplace. Finding someone who I can trust to guide me through the first critical year or two out of college is much more important to my long-term success than an authoritative manager who is focused solely on the day-to-day tactical execution.”
As you look toward the future and contemplate transitioning leadership to the next generation, whether that be family members or trusted next-gen employees, here are 10 ways to seamlessly and successfully pass the managerial torch to Generation Z:
This article was part of our Winter 2022/2023 Empower Magazine which features industry thought leaders sharing advice and unique perspectives on how professionals can future-proof their businesses.
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