The Challenge And Promise Of Generation Z originally appeared on Forbes.com.
Every generation develops certain characteristics, at least partly in response to the historical events of its time. Generation Z is no exception. Born just before or soon after 9/11, awakened to childhood consciousness during the Great Recession of 2008, and now coming of age in a time of a pandemic, these young people have had a remarkably complex journey.
For employers, Gen Zers already represent a significant and growing part of the workforce. They're estimated to make up 24% of workers in the United States in 2020. That percentage will rise as the last of the baby boomers retire and Gen Xers start joining them.
Gen Zers may present a challenge to the organizations that hire them. This is a generation acutely aware of, well, everything. They grew up hard-wired to the internet. They're also a generation that, sadly, could harbor little trust in the financial security of any job after many watched their parents struggle to rebuild after 2008. And now many more are caught up in the tsunami of joblessness triggered by the COVID-19 crisis.
On the bright side, they hold incredible promise. Data is their friend; they adapt to new technology as easily as most of us change shirts, and they want to make a difference in the world. Your organization, when it's ready to start hiring, will benefit from their presence — if you understand what makes them tick.
Champions Of Mental Health
Let's back up and outline how the generations working today are generally defined. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation:
Imagine the awkward moments and stages of your childhood captured for posterity in pictures and videos, shared with anyone on the internet who cares to look, and preserved for all eternity. Such is the reality that Gen Zers grew up in. Their identities have been shaped by not only real-life family and friends but also by thousands of disembodied voices online.
The silver lining to this perpetual state of hyper-self-awareness? It's that Generation Z doesn't stigmatize the concept of mental health. Living in a world of likes, downvotes and ghosting isn't easy, but it's driven them to recognize the telltale signs of anxiety and depression and, for many of them, to take action through open discussion and therapy.
They'll bring this state of mind to the workplace, and it will behoove their employers to recognize the importance of supportive, nontoxic environments and robust benefits programs that include mental health services. Otherwise, employee retention may suffer. A 2019 Harvard Business Review study found that 75% of Gen Zers had left jobs for mental health reasons — both voluntarily and involuntarily.
Frighteningly, the psychological impact of social media may pale in comparison to how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect them. Many Gen Zers have lost jobs. Others have seen internships canceled. Still, others are seeing their high school and college experiences drastically and negatively altered by the crisis.
Tips On Hiring And Employment
So, what can employers do to draw the best job candidates from this generation and provide them with a positive and productive work environment? Here are a few tips to consider:
Some Good News
Like millennials before them, Gen Zers already seem to be getting labeled "job-hoppers," but here's some good news: A 2020 survey by tech company Zapier found that Gen Zers plan to stay at their jobs for an average of six years. One hopes that's at least six years and could be much longer for good employees supported by their employers.
Original post by Lynda Silsbee
Founder of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration and Member of the Forbes Coaches Council
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.