Need to Keep Gen Z Workers Happy? Hire a ‘Generational Consultant’

19 February 2020

As the thinking goes, millennial and Gen Z professionals have different values — and companies need a whole new approach to recruit and keep them.

On your first day at a new job, do you: a) drink an Ensure and hang up photos of your grandchildren while sitting quietly at your desk awaiting instruction; b) arrive at work before the boss, in order to make a good impression, but have difficulty figuring out how to turn on your computer; c) wear a Sonic Youth T-shirt under your suit, kicking yourself for working for “the man”; d) send a picture of your new participation trophies to the group text; or e) FaceTime in from your couch while recording the meeting to upload to TikTok later? Answer honestly: Your response will help your workplace determine which generation you’re from, what sort of worker you might be and how to get you in the door at the company.

For the first time, five distinct generations of employees — traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation Xers, millennials and Generation Zers — coexist in the workplace, all gathering around the same water cooler or washing their dishes (or leaving them for someone else to wash) in the same communal office sink. In 2018, more than 4 percent of Americans age 85 or older were still working; the millennial generation makes up about half of the American work force. The culture clash rooted in the vast age differences among colleagues — who in some industries, like retail or service, can be competing for the same jobs — is amplified by young people arriving with a digital skill set that their managers often need but might not have. Across industries, hiring managers and recruiters have had to fine-tune their strategies to attract a new hiring pool: both because of the sheer number of potential workers and because no one else can figure out how to embed a GIF.

Enter the generational consultants, the astrologers of the workplace: making broad assessments of a person — and millions like them — based on when they were born and advising hiring managers and human resources accordingly. A primer: Growing up after — or through — the Great Depression and World War II made traditionalists comfortable with sacrifice, hard work, rules and authority; baby boomers were likely to privilege their careers above all else, competing for the big title and the corner office, leaving their personal lives at the door. Next came the 65 million people in Generation X, latchkey kids who came of age during the 24-hour news cycle and were disenchanted because of it. Boomers raised millennials, who were coddled by open communication, collaboration and casualness; they love team meetings, regular feedback and calling parents by their first names. Xers are raising tech-savvy Zers, who are pragmatic, driven and competitive digital natives — which is to say they’re on Snapchat, not Facebook.

Imagine putting all these people together on a project. The multigenerational workplace has turned this sort of consulting into a growing — and lucrative — industry. David and Jonah Stillman, a father/son, Gen X/Gen Z team, operate a consulting business, Gen Guru, that tries to explain the differences — and expectations — that the younger work force brings with them to the office. Jonah says he would never fill out an online application if he could help it: he’d prefer to submit a video, or ideally email the hiring manager, upload his résumé to the company’s Dropbox or Google Drive, then grab coffee with someone who might be on his team, or even the C.E.O., to ensure that he can connect with the people in charge.

Companies use these insights to seem less square, taking cues to foster culturally diverse and collaborative environments (millennials expect a diverse workplace), promoting unlimited vacation policies and flexible work schedules (Gen Zers love a work-life balance) and keeping their social media channels up-to-date (both generations love Instagram). Aram Lulla, a manager at the recruiting firm Lucas Group, has found that if millennials are proud of their workplace, they’ll start to organically promote it in their networks, so he encourages clients to use their social media channels to demonstrate what it’s like to work at the organization itself, through videos and photos. Ally Van Deuren, a consultant who focuses on college recruitment, finds that companies do well on campuses when representatives discuss their philanthropic efforts — millennials and Gen Zers are attracted to companies with corporate social responsibility. Last year, she noticed that plastic straws were in the news and that young people were embracing alternative options, so Van Deuren advised one of her clients to give out metal straws during a campus recruiting trip: “A small way of saying, ‘We are aware, we are ahead of this and we trust that our employees are also very ecologically savvy and friendly.’ ”

Read The Entire Article Here: “Need to Keep Gen Z Workers Happy? Hire a ‘Generational Consultant,’” The New York Times Magazine, by Jazmine Hughes