There’s a lot of debate about what Gen Z should be called. This newest generation has been dubbed everything from the iGeneration to Gen Tech to Post-Millennials. Name aside, there’s little debate that Gen Z workers are already reshaping America’s workforce.

Older members of this substantial group – more than 61 million individuals in the U.S. alone – are starting to go to work and should make up one-fifth of the workforce by 2021, according to Forbes. And they are bringing expectations and aspirations that differ from their Millennial predecessors.

So, what are some of these differences? And what do you have to do to attract, motivate and retain this newest generation? Lucky for you, we can provide some insight.

 

They Want Flexibility

A study by Citrix of 1,500 employed U.S. Americans – split evenly between Gen Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers – revealed some very basic ways Gen Z is different from the rest. It starts with flexibility.

Asked about their most-valued employee benefits, Gen Z placed “Flexible Hours” at the top, 10 percentage points higher than any other generation. Here’s the Gen Z top five:

  1. Flexible Hours
  2. Free Healthcare
  3. Bonuses
  4. Employee Discounts
  5. Option to Work Remotely

Their modern lives require flexibility. Gen Z is fine working reasonable hours and a bit of overtime, or taking an afternoon off and making it up working in a Starbucks on the weekend. The 8-to-5, five days a week thing, though, doesn’t work for them. “Hard-working Gen Zers prefer a more balanced life,” said Alex Lowry, Professor of Finance at Gordon College. “It’s more important that we focus on the results versus how they get it done.”

For Piyush Patel, author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work, these findings are a clear indication of how priorities change throughout our lives. “For Gen Z, flexible hours may be important. For Baby Boomers, it may be a paid vacation to spend time with loved ones,” he said. “One isn’t better than the other; we simply have different things that drive us.”

 

They’re Willing to Job Hop

When hiring managers see a resume with three jobs in five years, they may see a job hopper and pass. But for the new Gen Z worker, this may be the only way they see to get to where they want to be. And these hiring managers may be missing out on quality employees.

When asked in the Citrix study how many years with one employer would they consider to be long-term employment, 59% of the Gen Z group said 1-4 years. Only 7% of Baby Boomers chose that range – a big difference.

“Leading companies see these statistics, and blame Gen Z as not being able to commit,” says Stan Kimer, President of Total Engagement Consulting. “What they need to do instead is provide some robust career and skills development tools so new employees can visualize growing in one company instead of needing to move.”

 

They’re Culture-Sensitive

Company culture is another area already affected by Gen Z. They want to work in a more creative, collaborative, friendly office (think Google), and they’re getting it. Social aspects of the workplace are important. Relationships are important. A relaxed culture is important.

Chris White, CEO at clothing company Shinesty, said, “This group has almost no differentiation between work time and social time. We allow them to let their guard down and be creative in a safe environment.”

The Citrix study bears this out. 30% of Gen Z respondents said the most frustrating managerial behavior was not socializing with team members. “It’s not about any single person,” adds Mr. Patal. “It’s about the whole tribe working together to win together. That’s how you unlock the passion required for your employees to want to be the best they can be.”

 

They May Not Be Emotionally Prepared

Growing up in a world of mass shootings, increased suicides, exploding opioid addiction and social media, Gen Z reports the worst mental health of any generation. According to the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in Americareport, an alarming 91% of Gen Z adults reported that they felt physical or emotional symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, associated with stress. About 37% claim to have received help or treatment from mental health professionals, significantly higher than other generations.

Anyone following the media can’t help but be aware of the growing mental health issues in America and elsewhere, but these issues are most noticeable in those Gen Z adults. According to Dr. Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business and the co-author of the book The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, “The country is facing rising rates of anxiety, depression and fragility among today’s teens and college students, many of whom have been surrounded by protective adults their entire lives. What will happen when they enter the real world?”

Smart companies are making changes and laying the groundwork now, training managers on behavioral health awareness and recognizing danger signs in employees, providing behavioral health benefits and taking steps to remove the stigma of mental health from the workplace.

 

Espyr® Can Help

As a leader in behavioral health, Espyr offers innovative products designed to proactively identify at-risk individuals and provide customized behavioral health solutions. Our products and services help people and organizations achieve their full potential.

For more information on how Espyr can help your company prepare for Gen Z – or any generation – call 888-570-3479 or go to espyr.com.