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Gen Z, is the biggest demographic in the US your organization ready to lead them?

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Gen Z is now officially the most significant demographic in the US, making up over 27% of the population. With the oldest of this cohort now being almost 25 years old, we are seeing them break into the workforce. Given the size and significance of this cohort, organizations are being forced to pay close attention to trends in the data related to attracting Gen Z to your workplace and, more importantly, how to keep them.

What have we learned so far? Well, Deloitte conducted an entire study on this cohort; it is well worth the read. If you want to garner a deeper understanding of what makes this group tick, you can find it here Deloitte & Gen Z . For those of you starved for time, let me bucket out the three most important things your organization can do to support better attraction and retention of the up-and-coming Gen Z workforce.

Be a Coach & Develop More Coaches

Coaching is hands down the single most impactful and engaging leadership style you can use for this cohort. They were raised in an environment with abundant organized activities, from sports to dance to music, math, and the arts. There was no limit to the number of activities parents were willing to put their kids into. As a result, Gen Z grew up being coached, not only by their parents and teachers, as was typical of every other generation, but they were also surrounded by coaches and teachers in all their extracurricular activities. Couple this with the fact that this group is also dubber Generation YouTube where they had the unique ability to literally learn to build a cabin in the woods or make ice cream cakes from scratch, all from watching instructional YouTube content. So, tip number one to attract and engage this cohort is to brush up on your coaching skills and assess the coaching skills of the leaders in your organization; if they aren't up to snuff, invest in some training and development for them too.

Career-Focused and Hard Working

One of the most exciting things I find about Gen Z is their commitment to a career, hard work, and advancement within an organization. While other demographics have changed jobs more frequently than the traditional Boomers, Gen Z more closely resembles the Boomers in what they want. They value stability and career progression and aren't afraid to work hard and put the time in to get it. One of the best ways you can prepare for the Gen Zs to hit your workforce is to spend some time career mapping each department – from where a person starts and all the different growth opportunities that can happen from that position and role. When trying to attract this cohort speak to all the internal advancement opportunities and ways, you'll invest in their career development to help them achieve their goals. This will help you attract the best and brightest while building a solid bench of talent ready to be deployed to other parts of the organization.

A Generation of Savers

Not unlike the Boomers, Gen Z are ardent savers. They are single-handedly responsible for the resurgence of thrift store shopping. Even retail giant Walmart is getting in on the upcycle movement with their new partnership with second-hand clothing giant ThredUp – more HERE. Gen Z is worried about the everyday affordability of life. They grew up in the post-2008 recession and sat around the dinner table as families talked about their friends and family who were losing jobs or losing their houses. Couple that with the incredible increase in the cost of real estate, and this has Gen Z worried sick about how they'll afford to have the same lifestyle as their parents. Outside-of-the-box thinking is required in this area for organizations, but first, you have to pay at or above the regional average for your city and your industry. That's table stakes, and you'll struggle to compete if you aren't paying in line with the competition. More important are programs that help this generation save money – auto deductions from their pay cheques into a savings account, RRSP matching, or helping them save for a down payment on their first home are great long-term retention strategies. Tuition reimbursement is another huge perk for this group. It helps them get a degree part-time, at little to no cost, while gaining incredibly valuable real-world work experience, something other generations did the opposite of. Gen X and the Millennials went the way of lots of education, mostly paid for with student loans and limited real-world work experience; while this worked out for some, it often left others with massive debt and little real-world experience. So, get your leadership team together and develop unique ways to help this generation reach their financial goals, and you'll earn their loyalty in return.

There's a lot to learn about this important generational cohort. I'm excited to head out on the road next month to speak at different events and conferences about how organizations can better attract and retain Gen Z. If your organization's leaders need expertise on how to effectively lead this generation, message me to learn more about how I can help!

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