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More tips on working with Gen Z

In our March 23rd Governing column, we wrote about Generation Z. That’s the age group that’s just now entering the workforce and making the Millennials feel old.

We mentioned a few different characteristics common to this group of new public sector employees. Having lived through the recession at a formative age, for example, they are more inclined to want security and are less impatient about getting quick promotions. In a yet-to-be published survey by the Center for Generational Kinetics, they show a stronger desire to help their communities than the Millennials, Gen X or us Baby Boomers. Of course, it’s still very early to tell too much about this new generation, of which the oldest were born in the mid-to-late 1990s and the youngest are about seven years old.

Here are some additional tips for managers, public or private, who are just beginning to welcome the oldest segment of this generation into the workplace.

  • Training may need to focus more on basics – phone and face-to-face office etiquette, dress expectations and so on, as they may not have a lot of work experience. Summer jobs have been hard to come by in the 21st Century and teenagers have so many extracurricular activities that the percentage holding an afterschool job has been quite low.

  • As we mentioned in our Governing article, extra training may be needed for dealing with face-to-face encounters. The generations have gotten steadily weaker at this, according to a survey by generational consulting firm BridgeWorks, which found that 74 percent of Gen Z (compared to 50 percent of the oldest set of Millennials) struggle with in-person communications.

  • Visual training beats text for a generation that reads less.

  • Accommodate the idea that work and fun can be mixed. Gen Zs have spent their lives in a world in which communication is constant and access to work and play occurs throughout the day rather than being separated into distinct segments.

  • Bolster your employee assistance services. We spoke with Cris Zamora, the coordinator of the employee assistance program in Milwaukee. He has found that the city’s youngest workers come in for financial advice and emotional counseling with disproportionate frequency. Workers under age 25 were 3 percent of the city workforce in 2016, but 12 percent of the individuals who were served by employee assistance. In contrast, 26 to 35 year olds made up 26 percent of the Milwaukee workforce and accounted for 4 percent of the employee assistance cases.


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