Who are your Gen Z graduates?

 

What do you know about Gen Z?

You’ll have opinions, granted, based maybe on that ever-aloof niece or nephew you’ve got – the one surgically attached to their smartphone last Christmas. But what do you really know?

The answer, according to a range of surveys, is very little.

Nothing exemplifies this more than a recent Forum study. Here are some corresponding myths and facts for you:

Myth:Gen Z cares more about a company’s values than the job.

Fact: Just 3% prioritise a company’s CSR programmes when making applications.

Myth: They’re all raving technophiles.

Fact: Barely one in twenty see the latest tech as essential to the job.

Myth: They want the freedom to peruse social media at work.

Fact: 96% couldn’t care less – they’d rather be developing their skills.

Our previous post in this series discussed this group’s gap in skills and workplace expectations. However, a chasm also clearly exists between managers’ perceptions of Gen Z and reality.

When it comes to this group, there’s a clear case of mistaken identity. Are your latest grads paying the price?

Counting the cost

Left unchecked, these preconceived notions will have two profound business impacts:

Resource misallocation

A misunderstanding of graduate priorities will lead to poor investments. Hard-earned cash spent on perks you think will resonate, like your Instagram-inspired office, will be wasted if your new charges actually prioritise job security, or tailored development.

Getting to know your new starters – beyond the stereotypes – is crucial to prevent high turnover and wasted resources.

Bias

Forum suggests that almost one in three managers believe their new grads will be resistant to authority, while 39% think they’re preoccupied with instant gratification.

These beliefs, mostly unproven, can easily harden into a generational ceiling for young graduates. This will hamper your efforts to mould your next leaders, as well as increasing turnover costs. The successful companies of tomorrow will be those capitalising on Gen Z’s unique outlook, rather than demonising it.

Gen Z unmasked

We’ve seen the managerial guesswork on what new grads want. But what’s really motivating them?

Forum’s data showcases three priorities:

  • Salary (69%)
  • Work/life balance (40%)
  • Job security (39%)

While work-life balance might be a slightly newer development, a secure job with a steady salary hardly seems groundbreakingly ambitious. And, far from seeking “instant gratification”, Gen Z are clearly more comfortable laying down roots at a company than the nomadic millennials preceding them.

Many appear to prize consistency over change. This can only benefit companies prepared to invest in them at grad level.

If pressed, we’d tell you that Gen Z are a mischaracterised bunch – that they’re more like you than you think.

Who knows? Maybe that frosty Christmas exchange wasn’t a textbook display of Gen Z aloofness. Maybe it was just a response to yet another year of unwrapping Accessorize vouchers and Lynx gift sets…

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