Z for Change

There are many stereotypes around Generation Z – they don’t part with their smartphones, have high expectations with respect to earnings, and don’t get attached to employers. How much truth is there in that? How to create a company that is friendly to zoomers?

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From this article you will learn:

  • What are the truths and myths about Generation Z?
  • What attracts Generation Z to employers?
  • How to prepare your company for Generation Z employees?

Those born after 1995 have entered the job market and already stirred up extreme emotions. Some praise them for their unprecedented knowledge of new technologies and freedom to use them and stand up for universal values, while others point to exorbitant expectations with respect to earnings and terms of employment as well as a lack of attachment to employers. Who is right?

We find the answer to this question in a rather surprising place. “When I see the young people today, I doubt the future of civilization,” “They love luxury (...) and they mess around all the time”. [1]

No, these are not quotes from articles about the generation just entering the job market, but the opinions of Aristotle and Socrates, respectively. Even if they sound surprisingly familiar.

Change, of course, raises and has always raised concerns. And Generation Z is definitely bringing such changes. If only because it is... relatively few in number. As experts note, the declining population and improving quality of life are leading to aging of the population and a decrease in the percentage of working people. [2]

Did you know that the percentage of people aged 15-24 was the highest in 2001? Young people accounted for 16.9% of the total population. Currently, the rate is more than 5 percentage points lower. [3]

The famous statement “I’ve got 10 others to take your place”, which stymied any creative change by Generation X (1965-1980) and Millenials (1981-1994), now no longer holds true. A “demanding attitude”, or rather assertiveness, of the younger generation is therefore not so much a generational issue as a natural tendency. Especially if we consider the so-called employee-focused market, i.e. the trend that has dominated in recent years.

So what are they really like, these notorious youngsters, and above all... is there anything to be afraid of?

Generation Z in a nutshell
  • They are flexible

Yes, they often do not attach themselves to employers. However, as it turns out, employers themselves do not necessarily create the conditions for this. Over the past decades economists have come around to the view that employment stability may regularly decline due to the nature of the economy. [3]

To some extent, this coincides with Generation Z’s expectations. Its representatives are more likely than their predecessors to choose forms of employment that give them maximum flexibility, including in terms of working hours. For the youngest generation, being able to manage their own time at work is more important (27%) than for Generation Y (24%) and Generation X (19%). [3] For employers, this can mean a team that responds flexibly to change and faces it.

  • Resilient to change

Karolina Messyasz, PhD, of the Faculty of Economics and Sociology of the University of Łódź, writing about Generation Z, reminds us that the impact of historical events during youth tends to persist over time as so-called cohort effects. In real terms, this is also reflected in the attitude to work. [3]

Growing up in a pandemic, zoomers learned to find their way around an uncertain situation in no time. Which is a definite plus for companies operating in a rapidly changing market. At the same time, this is a generation that for a long time will need psychological support from employers and additional training in soft skills [4], which they often simply did not have the chance to acquire. This is not their fault, of course, but a response to the times they grew up in.