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How to ready your business for Generation Z

All the talk around shifting workplace culture dynamics is primarily attributed to millennials, the name given to people born between 1977-1995. But there’s a new generation that will provide another shakeup to the traditional workplace: Generation Z, or individuals born between 1996 and 2010.

This cohort is huge. As of 2017, Generation Z is the largest generation in the United States with about 90.55 million individuals. The next largest is Baby Boomers at 72.56 million people. And Gen Zers are here now. The generation’s oldest representatives are making their way into the workforce, having just graduated college.

As more Gen Z individuals enter the workforce, it’s important that businesses tailor their workplaces and perks to win the battle for talent. Here are four things you need to know about Generation Z and how to make your business stand out.

Coach, don’t boss

This tip is especially important considering loyalty is relatively scarce among Gen Zers. Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey found that 61% of Gen Zers would leave their job within two years if given the choice. They prefer a manager who mentors and coaches them, rather than just tells them what to do.

According to an InsideOut Development survey, 75% of the 1,000 18-to-23-year-olds surveyed said they want a boss who coaches employees, and others value a boss who can communicate the company's vision, give frequent feedback and manage workers with consistency.

So how do you, as a business leader, provide proper coaching?

First, make their job easier. Don’t micromanage or hover. Generation Z wants to be independent, so sometimes it’s best to let it be. It’s also important to be straightforward and compassionate. According to a small survey by Career Minds, at least 42% of Generation Z respondents wanted managers with the characteristics of honesty, understanding and organization.

Gen Z’ers are also mission oriented and deeply care about community leadership. As a manager, you can integrate a mission within your team and provide more opportunities for volunteering.  

Mental health awareness

In 2018, the American Psychological Association conducted a survey of 3,458 adults and asked who reported feeling anxious or nervous once in the past month. Of the five generations — Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and 73-year-olds and over — Generation Z individuals led the way, with 54% of respondents agreeing. 

Generation Z, and, to a lesser extent, millennials, deeply care about mental health and are more apt to talk about or ask for help with emotional issues. Mental health can disrupt motivation and productivity. Anxiety can cause people to withdraw and lose focus.

It’s important to discuss mental health openly in the workplace and ensure there’s a welcoming environment for anyone who struggles with emotional problems. Some companies have even provided third-party therapists or turned to meditation to help ease anxiety and get the most out of their employees.  

Money insecurity

Gen Zers grew up during the 2008 financial crisis and are graduating college with mountains of debt, which is hampering their ability to buy a house, save for retirement and more. A 2018 survey from the American Psychological Association found that 81% of Generation Z respondents said money was a major stressor for them, compared to 64% of all adults. Simply put, money is always top of mind.

To win the fight for workforce, offering benefits and perks aimed toward avoiding or reducing debt or providing training and education at reduced prices can go a long way. For example, there are a number of restaurants in the Des Moines area — a tough industry to find and retain workers in — that have offered student loan assistance programs.

Flexible work arrangements

Generation Z isn’t like its millennial predecessor when it comes to workplace preferences. A study by surveying 300 first-year college students found that 72% of students prefer face-to-face contact to other forms of communication at work. That’s unlike millennials, who fueled the rise of social media and work communication platforms like Slack.

Generation Z also desires a balance between group and individual work. Collaborative spaces, which have become popular with millennials, will work, but businesses will need to provide additional offices where younger employees can put their head down and focus. Gen Zers will also expect the option to work remotely from home or other places around town.

Technology is ingrained within Generation Z as well. They don't know a world without it. This is a benefit to your organization. They'll be more versatile and willing to learn new systems, processes and technologies — perhaps even helping older coworkers who are a bit slower to adapt. 




How to make social responsibility work for your small business

Giving back, whether via time or financially, is an excellent way for businesses of any size to connect with community. It’s also a great way to grow your enterprise. And that doesn’t stem solely from a moral or ethics argument, but also one of dollars and cents.  

Social responsibility is becoming increasingly interconnected with business success. Millennials and Generation Z take giving back seriously when making purchasing decisions. A study from Cone Communications showed that more than 90% of millennials would switch brands to one associated with a charitable cause.

For many small business owners, giving back is tough. Oftentimes, they are wearing many hats and operating on a tight budget. Here are four ways your company can be socially responsible without breaking the bank.

Encourage your team to volunteer

There’s a reason why volunteer time off, or VTO, is so popular with some of the country’s largest employers. VTO is essentially offering your employees paid time off to volunteer with a charity of their choice. Employees want to give back to organizations they are passionate about. A VTO policy will help boost employee morale and the business’ reputation in the process.

Give your employees a specific amount of time per quarter or year to volunteer. And when volunteering, employees should wear any company-branded clothing they have to help promote your business. Volunteering can also be a great team-building activity. Shut down the office for an afternoon and bring your entire team to a charity event.

Launch a charity drive

Nonprofit organizations, shelters or food banks are always in need for supplies, especially when the weather starts to get cold. Encourage your employees to bring in hardly- or never-used clothes or items throughout the year.

Then select a few dates every year to donate all of the proceeds to a charity or nonprofit of your choice. A charity drive is a cost-effective solution, and it encourages your employees to get engaged in something other than work.

Sponsor a youth sports team

This can be especially impactful in smaller towns. Sponsoring a local sports team can be a rewarding experience. You’ll help children grow and learn new skills through athletics, and your brand name will be visible to anyone watching.

Most of the time, this is a minimal investment that can go a long way.

Go local

As a business owner, you have direct control over your suppliers. You can use this power for good, by supporting the community through buying local. It’s effective and easy, and while it may cost a little more, you can share your story of buying local to perhaps pick up a few new customers or assist in recruiting employees.

You may also consider partnering with local companies on any of the aforementioned ideas. If everyone pitches into a volunteer effort or a charity drive, then spend time to tell that story, it just makes the effort that much more impactful.