Millennials – they’re so last century. Businesses have just started to get their heads around all the different ways to attract and manage millennials, and now they need to start appealing to a completely different generation.

Millennials are already well established in the workplace and climbing the career ladder. So now is the time to shift attention to attracting generation Z.

Aren’t they just young millennials?

Millennials and generation Z are not the same. Sure, they share some interests, values and expectations but is someone born this century part of the same generation as someone born in the 1980s?

Their formative experiences are completely different and while they may embrace technology with almost identical enthusiasm, generation Z were raised in a tech-centric society. Understanding the distinction between the two generations is vital to recruiting generation Z.

Preparing for the next generation

Over the next few years, companies must market themselves to generation Z as it is expected that within 3–4 years they’ll make up one-fifth of the workforce.

Appealing to a fresh wave of talent bursting with ideas and possibilities, which come from maturing with fast-evolving technology and a sense of collaboration borne from an interconnected and intersectional social world, will require some change. It’s imperative that businesses try to understand what generation Z want from their employers and to adapt to the new reality.

Fortunately, generation Z are not so removed from millennials that businesses will require dramatic and widespread culture changes.

Mentorship and community

Contrary to media depiction, generation Z don’t think they know it all. They actively want to learn and push themselves to the limits of their potential. Businesses with mentorship programs are more likely to attract and retain generation Z employees than those without. Additionally, it’s important to have accessible management for professional support.

Generation Z also want their work to be beneficial to their community. That’s not just community projects or charity, but consumer products and services they feel improve people’s lives. Sure, they want company perks but, even more so, they want to be able to tell their friends their work makes a difference – so think ‘benefits over features’.

Company perks

Speaking of perks… a chasmal difference between generation Z and millennials is perks. Videogames in the break-room doesn’t pique generation Z; they are driven by experiences and good old-fashioned benefits like insurance, gym membership and bonuses.

They want to attend conferences and visit expositions to network and learn new things that will benefit their career far more than play Xbox at lunch.

Diversity and opportunity

Generation Z have matured in one of the most uncertain periods in employment history. They’re leaving education with little expectation of walking into a job-for-life like their parents and grandparents.

The gig economy, digital nomadism and career diversification is entirely normal to generation Z. A CV of a 25-year-old with 10 different jobs would have been a red flag a decade ago; a decade from now it’ll be commonplace. As such, opportunities for career development and promotion are huge, even if that means diversifying – in fact, they’d love the chance to learn new skills.

Generation Z will refuse to stagnate and will move on in search of something better. For them, professional loyalty is a two-way street. They won’t stick around if all they’re getting is a pay cheque.

Flexible working

Flexible working was popularised by millennials but there is still a stigma attached to remote working. Generation Z is going to change that.

To millennials and generation Z alike, the 9–5 job is an antiquated, unproductive system. Of course, there are caveats but, by and large, generation Z will want the flexibility to work when they are most productive. Flexible working hours isn’t possible for all but businesses, but those that wish to compete for the best talent will need to find some form of flexibility.

Businesses must adapt to the expectations of generation Z as they enter the workforce. By shifting recruitment and management tactics, businesses can attract the best talent and push into the future quicker than their competitors.