Preparing for Generation Z in the Workplace

Written by Alexander Shapero on Feb 28, 2018

Just when businesses finally started to figure out how to attract and accommodate millennials, they now need to start preparing for generation Z in the workplace. Generation Z is roughly defined as those born between between 1995 and 2010, and is the largest portion of the U.S. population at 26 percent. According to the generational researcher and author David Stillman, there are currently over 72.8 million of them. Hands down, Generation Z represents the fastest growing generation in both the workplace and marketplace. In order to succeed in the long term, businesses need to understand their needs, mindset and technology expectations as they start to enter into the workforce.

Who is Generation Z?

The first task for any forward-looking organization preparing for Generation Z in the workplace is to understand what makes them tick. Generation Z has never known phones that weren’t smart and have always had instant access to information whenever they want and from multiple connected devices. The major event that separates Generation Z from Generation Y, or millennials, is the fact that they are too young to remember the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Instead, the generation-defining moment for Generation Z was the Great Recession of 2008. Generation Z—also known as the iGen or Gen Z—also doesn’t remember a time before social media.  Another distinction some make is that Gen Z is ‘cloud-native’, while millennials are ‘digital-native’. Unlike millennials, they were raised by Generation X who instilled more competitive values in them—and, more skepticism about doing business as usual. Generation Z is also more loyal than their predecessors. In fact, a 2017 survey conducted by Deliotte shows that only 31 percent of millennials plan to stay with their current employer for more than five years. In contrast, Stillman’s research indicates that 61 percent of Generation Zers plan to stay with a company for more than 10 years.

Growing up during the Great Recession has made Generation Z more pragmatic when it comes to money. In fact, many are already saving up for retirement. They are a do-it-yourself bunch that can learn about almost anything through YouTube videos or online forums, and prefer independence at work over collaboration. According to an extensive study conducted by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) Gen Z values recognition for their ideas and contributions over work-life balance and vacation time like the previous generation.They are also extremely competitive and incentivized by professional development, educational and training opportunities in the workplace. They are entrepreneurs and innovators that want to move fast.  According to Stillman, in fact, 75 percent of members of Generation Z are interested in holding multiple positions within a company if it means that they can accelerate their career. Finally, these cloud-natives are extremely tech-savvy. Pointing again to Stillman’s research, 90.6 percent of Gen Zers claim that a company’s technological sophistication would influence which company they choose to work for. Simply put, Generation Z looks at technology as a way to streamline business processes and increase efficiency. If businesses aren’t willing to let them leverage their own technology expertise or give them the independence to contribute in meaningful ways, they risk alienating them.

Google’s impact on Generation Z in the workplace

Google introduced its first Chromebook in 2011. While originally intended for business adoption, the devices have gained the most traction in education to-date. According to The New York Times, more than half of US primary- and secondary-school students use Google educational and G-Suite apps in the classroom—that’s more than 30 million Generation Zers. In addition, more than half of Chromebooks today are shipped to schools. Google has been very proactive in this respect, too. In 2013, the company set up a team to create apps specifically for schools that are using Chrome devices. Google’s proposition to educators is not necessarily to push Google products, but to enable students’ to further advance and accelerate their educational and career paths. As Generation Z enters the workforce with years of working with Chrome OS apps and devices under their belts, today’s businesses would be wise to start adopting Chrome and new, cloud-native apps and workflows.

Enabling multiple generations in the workplace

While it’s critical for companies to understand and accommodate the incoming generation in the workplace, the reality is that many baby boomers and Generation Xers are still working. Unlike millennials and Generation Z, these generations grew up before the Internet, and are still more comfortable with and reliant upon legacy Windows-based applications. In fact, most companies that have been around for years are still using Windows-based applications. The best way to accommodate all generations is to migrate Windows desktops and apps to the cloud with an end-to-end automation, orchestration and management platform like itopia’s Cloud Automation Stack (CAS). IT administrators can use CAS to customize individual workspaces for each user, with one-click provisioning of Windows, web or mobile apps to Google Cloud via RDS.

In short, it’s time for businesses to get ready for Generation Z in the workplace. While the oldest are just graduating from college, there are millions more on their heels. Many will opt not to go to college at all, or even start their own businesses by building new cloud-based apps they are comfortable working with. By gaining and understanding of what their career goals and technology preferences are, modern businesses can harness the next young and eager generation’s potential and stay ahead of the curve in a hypercompetitive world. Further, with cloud desktops and apps, companies can accommodate the multi-generational workforce that is the reality for the foreseeable future.
To learn more about migrating desktops and apps to Google Cloud with itopia, schedule a demo