How to Cultivate the Potential of Generation Z

Generation Z

Many accounting and finance managers are still adapting their staffing plans to accommodate millennials. But generational shifts won’t wait for your plans to catch up, and there’s a new group of employees entering the workforce: Generation Z.

Over the next five years, Gen Zers (those born between 1990 and 1999) will account for more than 20 percent of the multigenerational workforce you’ll be managing. As an employer, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about this group of 18-to-25-year-olds — from their expectations to their work habits — so you can keep your accounting department running seamlessly.

In new research on Generation Z, Get Ready for Generation Z a recent report compiled by Robert Half and Enactus — you’ll find valuable insight into recruiting and retaining this new workforce, as well as data that can help you mold them into productive team members. Let’s take a look at some of the report’s findings.

1. Gen Zers want to make a difference in their jobs.

Many Generation Z workers hope to find roles that align with their personal beliefs. In fact, 30 percent of those surveyed said they would take a pay cut to work for a company with a mission they care about. This doesn’t mean salary isn’t important to them; the report shows generous pay is the second-highest priority when someone from Gen Z is seeking employment. However, offering an attractive salary isn't by itself enough to secure the best talent. When talking to potential recruits, emphasize your company's values and mission statement, as well as the difference your work makes.

2. Gen Zers may have soft skills gaps.

Generation Z workers may be the most tech-savvy generation, but they’re more likely to need coaching in soft skills than some of their predecessors. You can close the gap on these skills by embracing Gen Zers’ interest in collaborating with team members. Most of those surveyed said they prefer to collaborate with small teams in an office, rather than work off-site either independently or as part of a virtual team; respondents also said they prefer face-to-face communication versus emails or texts. Pair your Gen Z employees with more seasoned team members so they can learn by example and develop better soft skills. However, you’ll want to emphasize mutual respect among all employees, as Gen Zers do have concerns about being viewed as “kids.”

3. Gen Zers know what they want from managers.

The most important qualities in a manager, according to 38 percent of survey respondents, are honesty and integrity. Companies may lose Generation Z recruits if there is a perceived lack of transparency at a senior level. Mentoring ability is also one of the most important qualities in a manager, according to 21 percent of survey respondents. To make sure new staff members remain engaged and focused, employers will need to be open, sincere and supportive.

What else do Generation Z workers want? Immediate and direct feedback — lots of it, according to the survey.

4. Career progress is Gen Z’s No. 1 priority.

Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said the most important factor in any job was the opportunity for career growth. Generation Z workers don't want to spend a few years getting a feel for the industry but would rather delve into the organization and add value immediately. To secure the best talent, highlight both the opportunities and challenges their roles offer, and let your candidates know they’ll have your ongoing support. 

Generation Z employees are hard-working, keen to learn, committed, tech-savvy and determined to make a difference in your organization. Communicate with them, collaborate with them and help them learn how to operate in a corporate environment. Your outreach efforts will pay handsome dividends as you get the best out of this dynamic new generation.

Learn More

Download the report Get Ready for Generation Z from Robert Half.

kathydownsKathleen Downs, a vice president with Robert Half Finance & Accounting, started with the company in 2000. Before that, she was CEO of a recreation/retail/education organization in Bonn, Germany. Kathleen is actively involved with a number of professional organizations within the finance and accounting field and sits on several not-for-profit boards. Her Twitter handle is @kathleen_downs.

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