Generation Z are the cohort employers have least experience of, and so are at most risk of becoming disengaged in the workplace, according to Towergate Health & Protection. In 2018, on average 48% of employees left a role because it wasn’t what they thought it would be, this figure is even higher for Gen Z workers with three-quarters (73%) quitting as a role did not meet their expectation: a clear warning for businesses that Gen Zers are more likely to switch jobs if they’re not happy. However, managers can accommodate the newest generation who boast different wants and needs to their predecessors to avoid these workers becoming totally disenfranchised.

A new type of worker

Gen Z now outnumber millennials and account for 32 per cent of the global population so employers need to learn how to engage and retain them, or risk alienating this new generation of talent. The most common assumption made is that Gen Z are just like their older siblings, Millennials – they are actually very different and have their own set of values which was shaped by growing up during an economic downturn.

Key characteristics that differentiate Gen Z:

  • Generation Z have been connected to the digital world since birth, growing up, their lives have been entwined with technology, social media and smartphones. They are the true digital natives.
  • All the information Gen Z have desired throughout their lives has quite literally been at their fingertips. Entering a workplace where there is a lack of digital communication or information will feel completely alien to this group.
  • They are more likely to save than spend their wages and are risk-averse and cautious when it comes to decision making, having lived through tough economic situations.
  • Gen Z tend to place much greater importance on diversity and the environment than Millennials.
  • Members of Gen Z do not identify themselves in clearly defined categories, but rather have a much more fluid sense of themselves, which makes them the most diverse generation to date.

How to get the best out of Gen Z

Understanding characteristics is one step, but to truly engage Gen Z, employers need to go even further. Businesses need to analyse the profile of their unique workforce, then look at how to support them holistically to truly engage them:

  • Adapt communications and wellbeing initiatives within the range of Gen Z’s needs. Offering tailored support for health and wellbeing can be a great way to show Gen Z they’re recognised as individuals.
  • Employee benefits shouldn’t be standardised or necessarily employee wide. To appeal to Gen Z, businesses need to be creative and develop something which this group can tailor, such as offering DNA testing which is personalised – looking at an individual’s genetics in relation to improving areas such as nutrition, fitness, wellness, stress and sleep.
  • Gen Zers grew up in the shadow of recession, they’re entrepreneurial but pragmatic, they want security and they’re willing to work for it. They are a financially savvy group who understand the value of saving money and will respond well to financial initiatives.
  • Gen Z are at a time in their lives where they are beginning to have financial obligations (such as leaving home and taking responsibility for rental costs and household bills) so financial protection benefits such as income protection and life assurance can be of great value.
  • Gen Zers are ambitious, they want to work for a company they believe in, with a culture that offers career growth. Leaders in the workplace need to be flexible, adapting their approach to deliver support and motivation in a way that resonates with them.

Brett Hill, distribution director, Towergate Health & Protection said: “We live in a unique era with five different generations all in the workforce at the same time, which has led to lots of myths about how to handle and communicate with each generation in turn. As each new demographic enters the workforce, they not only bring different skills and ideas but new expectations and ways of working, putting employers in the uniquely challenging position of adapting to an unknown generation of workers.”

“Failure to properly manage Gen Z can have a detrimental effect on a business’s ability to recruit and keep hold of talented people. As Generation Z enters the workforce, they are looking for an environment that is dynamic, social and helps support their physical, financial and mental health and wellbeing.”