Millennials are the last generation to remember a time before technology became a central component of how we live and how we work. The younger generations, Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) and Gen Alpha (born after 2013) who have begun entering the global workforce, have an entirely different understanding of not only how to navigate and leverage technology such as social media, but a completely different set of values and ideas of what it means to exist in the modern workforce.
As these younger generations continue to take up careers in every industry, many at the ready with progressive and transformative skills that will surely guide our societies forward, organizations will need to get acquainted with what it means (and what it takes) to work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha.
How to Work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha: Understanding Their Values
Previous generations happily worked under the 40 hour a week, in-office paradigm, climbing the corporate ladder at the same company for 30 to 40 years until retirement. But the younger generations have a different idea of what it means to be successful, and as a result their values and expectations of companies are different too. In order to successfully work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha, you’ll need to understand what motivates them through examining their values.
Since 2020, remote work has cemented itself across industries, and while some corporations have decided to go back to in-office cultures, Gen Z and Gen Alpha have made it clear that their flexibility comes first.
Where annual bonuses and corner offices may have motivated previous generations, remote-first, unlimited time off, and wellness benefits have shown to be the key attractions for the new generations of professionals.
Purpose and meaning
Gen Z tends to prioritize finding work that aligns with their personal values and has a positive impact on society. They value meaningful work that allows them to make a difference, and search for companies with strong mission statements that align with those values and interests.
Diversity and inclusion
More racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations, Gen Z places great importance on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They seek inclusive work environments where individuals from different backgrounds and identities are respected and valued, and hold their prospective employers accountable for demonstrating their commitment to DE&I efforts. Companies that want to work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha will no doubt have to embrace diversity and inclusion to remain competitive.
As digital natives, having little to no memory of a world without smartphones, Gen Z’s technological skills are second-nature. They value workplaces that embrace technology and are forward thinking, offer innovative tools, and provide opportunities for digital creativity.
As the youngest generation and still making their way into the workforce, the values and motivators of Gen Alpha are still being discovered. Based on current trends and evolving societal values, you can anticipate Gen Alpha to focus on the following values.
Flexibility and adaptability
Much like Gen Z, Gen Alpha is likely to prioritize flexibility and adaptability in their careers. As they witness rapid changes in technology and the nature of work, they may seek careers that allow them to adapt and evolve in dynamic environments, many of them will hold titles that are yet to exist. It’s safe to say that companies hoping to work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha will need to embrace flexible work environments to attract their talent.
Even more so than Gen Z, Gen Alpha is growing up in an increasingly digital world, and already proving to be highly proficient in technology. There’s no doubt that Gen Alpha will value organizations that are highly literate in technology, and will look to push the boundaries of what that tech can do.
Each new generation will become increasingly impacted by the effects of climate change, and as Gen Alpha grows up heavily influenced by the eco-awareness of Gen Z, it is safe to assume they may prioritize careers that contribute to social causes that promote sustainability. Gen Alpha may value work that makes a positive difference in the world, and seek organizations that demonstrate a commitment to the health of our planet.
How To Attract, Engage, And Retain to Work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha
1. Emphasize opportunities for growth
The value of a company can be dependent on multiple factors. Be it the culture, benefits, mission, or opportunity. It’s true that perks are a great attraction for companies who are looking to work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Apart from the perks like creative spaces, resting areas, cafes, and gyms at the workplace, when it comes to a more long-term strategy to work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha, consider providing a platform to advance skills and career opportunities for employees. Most Gen Z and Gen Alpha are curious to learn and upskill while on the job, boosting the importance of learning and development (L&D) programs and employee goal setting. Discussing career paths and offering guidance can help employees envision long-term relationships with your company, as well as serve as an internal investment in your workforce that can help drive business outcomes.
2. Focus on flexibility
Half of Gen Z say flexibility is a priority when choosing a job, as the generation values independent working and freedom. To work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha, consider how your organization can offer flexibility in your working environment. Whether you offer a hybrid working model, a month of work-from-anywhere each month, or unlimited PTO, some introducing flexibility into your work policies can not only attract talent, but keep your teams engaged.
3. Build a culture of recognition
Even with the opportunities and a flexible work culture that you offer, recognition for hard work is a must. According to research by SHRM, 79% of the employees said that an increase in recognition rewards would make them more loyal to their employer. Whether you work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha or millennials, employees are found to be more loyal to employers who recognize and reward their efforts.
Most individuals in the workplace find motivation in feeling valued by their employer. To do so, adopt a company culture of consistent feedback through frequent one-on-one conversations, which helps not only present more opportunities to recognize your employee’s hard work, but brings about more seamless communication between employees and managers. Annual performance reviews are not enough, 60% of Gen Z want several 5-min check-ins throughout the week. According to Achievers, 44% of employees who were unhappy with the company’s feedback system searched for a new job, whereas 28% of the surveyed employees who found their company great at giving feedback, chose to stay.
4. Highlight diversity and inclusion efforts
According to EY’s survey, when working in a team, 63% of the employees feel it is most important to work with people with diverse education and skill levels; and 83% think that having people of different locations and origins is the most important element to a team. DEI efforts are important beyond only the desire to work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Diversity brings about new and innovative solutions by broadening the points of view within your organization.
Your DEI efforts should be clear across your company website as well as your recruiting efforts. Consult with your Employee Resource Groups (ERG), to get their input on your employer branding campaign to help shape your messaging and ensure an equitable program.
5. Focus on the outcome vs the input
The era of micromanagement is not only outdated, but counter productive. To work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha, focus more on the outcome of projects and less on the hours put in. Younger generations benefit from the flexibility to arrive at their solutions in their own way, which may look different from how previous generations have navigated the corporate world. This will look different within each organization, but could result in less meetings, or working outside of the traditional business hours.
6. Focus on culture fit
Wise managers know that you can teach skills but you can’t teach culture fit. As more and more companies work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha, hiring managers can expect to see more job applications coming from a range of degrees, making it hard to do a direct comparison between candidates. Instead, companies should focus more on determining if candidates are a good culture fit (while still having the basic skills to get the job done).
Modernize Your Company Culture
All companies should strive to become a place that’s optimized to work with Gen Z and Gen Alpha. These generations will surely make their mark with innovative ideas, excellent efforts, and aspiring workspace ethics.
To do so, it’s crucial for managers to understand the working styles and values of the younger generations, as well as effectively communicate their work policies, corporate culture, company values to adequately market to, and attract Gen Z and Gen Alpha talent to their company.
Omni’s free Employee Handbook Template makes it easy to lay out your policies and culture with customizable slides and a clean and cohesive format, as well as tips and tricks to help your culture shine. Download your template today!