Plan Z: The Generation on the Axis of Change

August 14, 2019
Author: Tyran Saffold Jr

Generation Z, or Gen Z, is the demographic group that succeeds Millennials. Born in 1997, currently, the 61 million people that make up this generation are just starting to enter the workforce. Their impact on society from both a labor force and consumer perspective will require some preparation by Human Resource departments and hiring managers if they want to successfully integrate this group into the workforce.

Gen Z Entering Workforce

David Stillman, author of GenZ @ Work: How the Next Generation is Transforming the Workplace, spoke at a governing council meeting in Washington. “We have a new generation. They’re not Millennials. There are completely different events that shaped them, resulting in a different generational personality.”

Of the Gen Z members Stillman surveyed, 56 percent said they want to write their own job descriptions, and 62 percent want to customize their own career path. Stillman’s survey also showed that 75 percent of Gen Z members would be interested in having multiple roles at one place of employment.

“They’re not better or worse than any other generation,” Stillman added. “They possess their own unique traits just like the others. Learning more about them can help (HR reps) assimilate members of Gen Z into the workforce.”

Hiring managers and talent acquisition reps should start taking steps to prepare for the arrival of Gen Z and one way to attract them is through internet-based platforms.

Company Online Presence

Internet usage has skyrocketed since its inception. From 16 million users in 1995 to 4.16 billion in 2017 — more than half of the world’s population. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Gen Zers use online platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat on a daily basis. Additionally, they check or refresh those apps at least once every seven minutes.

They garner the majority of their information from the internet and multiple social media platforms. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to build and maintain a strong online presence for their company. It is documented that 60 percent of Gen Z prefers to shop at retailers that engage with them via social media.

They are adept at researching online, using Google as a master craftsman as they insert keywords and pull data on companies and products that stir their interests. Online ads and search engines are the first and second most used brand discovery channels for Gen Z at 36 and 34 percent, respectively. Not only do they prefer to do research before purchasing, but brand image matters to this generation. They care about the news surrounding the brands, not just the company logo or motto.

Online image will be a key factor in pulling this generation into specific companies since they don’t quite research potential employers in the way Millennials did before them—through job unemployment websites.


Studies show that an estimated 50 percent of Gen Zers are connected online for at least 10 hours a day. Given their adaptation to the different social platforms, the best way to connect with them in training methods would be to use short YouTube-like instructional videos that explain how the job should be done. In fact, 85 percent of Gen Z watched at least one online video to learn a new skill.

Attention spans have grown shorter through the advent of technology, so the onboarding process should be adjusted so that retention issues do not develop with new hires.

Heather Watson, the behavioral designer at the center for generation kinetics, explains, “if you manage Gen Z, you’re not only managing their skill performance, you’re also kind of coaching their life as well,” she said. “They want buddies and friends, which goes against everything you’re taught in management class. They want to be socially connected with everyone. They want to be socially connected with their boss as well.”

They also want regular feedback. Raised in an instant-reaction world, 40 percent of Gen Z said they wanted daily interaction with their boss—and if they didn’t get it, they would think they’ve done something wrong. Increased feedback can improve retention and two-thirds of Generation Z say they need feedback from their supervisor at least once every few weeks in order to stay at their job.

Whether a one-sentence emoji, a shout out on Twitter or a quick text message—managers should communicate with them in relatable ways.

Almost one-third of millennial respondents say it will be more difficult to manage employees from Gen Z as compared to older generations and 28 percent say it will be more difficult to train Gen Z employees.

This generation presents a new set of challenges, all while possessing a new array of talents and skill sets to help advance tomorrow’s economy and become future leaders. To understand how to connect with them throughout the hiring process will ensure a brighter future for everyone involved.