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Luring Gen Z Workers Over the Generation Gap

Particularly in the electronics manufacturing and supply chain, workers are aging out faster than organizations can replace them. Understanding the unique perspectives and needs of Millennial and especially Generation Z workers may be the quickest way to closing the generation, and ultimately the employment, gap.

In the not too distant future, Generation Z (sometimes called GenEdge, born after 1995) will make up 20% of the workforce, according to staffing firm Adecco.  Some other stats culled from Sabre Connect, held earlier this month in Las Vegas, further underline the trend:

  • Today there are two billion millennials, and the United States ranks third in terms of number of millennials.
  • The number of Generation Z works will jump 10% by 2020, going from just 2% today.
  • Half of millennials have a university education, compared to just a third of Generation Y and 25% of Generation X.
  • Generation Z workers will hold 17 jobs on average in their lifetime.
  • Millennials average 10 hours and 19 minutes of technology use per day.

Fortunately, these same individuals may be a perfect fit for the electronics industry. “It's pretty clear that GenEdge will show up and perform in the manufacturing sector if the promised renaissance of 'Made in the USA' production shows up for them,” said Amy Lynch, generational speaker in a recent blog.

These younger workers are digital natives who have grown up with technology and been basted in the Maker movement. Meanwhile, they are pragmatic and willing to work, said Lynch. Dan Charney, president and CEO of Direct Recruiters outlines some other hallmarks of Generation Z in an article:

  • An entrepreneurial spirit. Many Gen Z members expect to create and run their own companies.
  • A thirst for new opportunities. They want the opportunity to prove themselves and move up within the organization quickly.
  • An expectation of anywhere, anytime access to information. A lifetime of technology use makes them want the latest and greatest tech at any cost.
  • A sense of being a global citizen. These workers are well prepared for the global business environment.
  • A need for recognition. This generation has always been lauded for any accomplishment so reward and recognition programs are important.
  • Openness to mentoring and coaching. These workers are likely to need help with interpersonal and communication skills, which are underdeveloped from a lifetime of looking at a screen.
  • An idealistic nature. These workers want to feel like they are making a difference and adding positively to society.

As electronics manufacturing and their associated supply chains become increasingly sophisticated, organizations are going to be able to offer just the kind of opportunities that Generation Z workers want. However, old tried and true methods for finding, attracting, and retaining workers may not work with Millennial and Generation Z workers—and each generation has it's own unique style.

For example, the place to start the work of getting attention from Generation Z workers: social media. “Many Gen Z'ers use social media for professional purposes and allowing them to access their broader community via social media may enable them to approach their career in a more dynamic way,” said Adecco in its e-book on the topic.  Social media, then has to become part of how the organization works. Organizations should, according to Adecco:

  • Use social media to recruit Generation Z workers.
  • Allow Generation Z workers to use social media for team-based projects.
  • Encourage social media use that drives business.
  • Determine what information does not belong on social media and set those expectations clearly with young employees.

Filling the pipeline with qualified workers is going to require targeted approaches for each of the incoming generations. However, the effort is likely to be well worth the effort.

Take a look at the infographic below, which is based upon Adecco's Way to Work survey, to see the differences between Generation X and Generation Z. Then let us know in the comments section below what your organization is doing to bridge the generation gap.

— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page Friend me on Facebook

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