Generation Z on the Rise

With Baby Boomers hitting retirement and some 111,350 new job openings in the next 10 years (2017 – 2027) in BC’s tourism and hospitality sector, employers are increasingly looking to other viable labour pools – and generations – to help fill the current labour gaps. While we already know about Generation X and the Millennials (sometimes referred to as Generation Y), there’s a new generation on the rise: Generation Z.

Though there is a great deal of discussion on when exactly the Millennials end and Gen Z begins, many experts consider the birth years for Millennials to range from 1977 to 1994, while Generation Z is generally defined as those born between 1995 through to the 2010s.  However, it is important to note that some studies show the Gen Y/ Millennials extending to 2000 and Gen Z beginning thereafter.  For the purposes of this article, it is assumed that Gen Z begins in 1995 and continues through the 2010s.

This, of course, makes many members of Generation Z of working age (specifically those between 15 to 21 years of age).  As  32 per cent of the tourism and hospitality workforce is between the ages of 15 to 24, this is a key labour demographic for the sector. The good news is that according to a 2014 study titled “Generation Z Goes to College,” these students consider themselves to be compassionate, determined, loyal, open-minded, responsible and thoughtful.

So, the question for many employers interested in this labour pool might be: How do we hire and manage the up-and-coming Generation Z?

Here are five tips for attracting (and retaining) Gen Z to your workplace:

  1. Be Collaborative, Flexible & Open-Minded – This group craves collaboration, and recent economic uncertainties have made this group independent and entrepreneurial as they’ve grown up witnessing their parents and older siblings struggle in the workforce.  Gen Z is also self-directed, with little need to await direction. They expect to be worthwhile and valuable contributors to the bottom line with their entrepreneurial ideas and spirit.
  2. Provide Leadership & Mentoring – Growing up in the digital age and becoming the first generation of true “digital natives” (in which technology has become intuitive, logical and second nature), this group can process a variety of information quickly and efficiently.  They are eager to learn and implement what they learn into their day-to-day work. Offering leadership and mentoring opportunities will help them to feel engaged and empowered.
  3. Create & Encourage Training Programs – Considering that Gen Z has grown up with and are surrounded by social media and technology, they are already prepared for a constantly evolving global business environment.  By providing training programs, this group will be well positioned for new learning and professional opportunities that will also keep them motivated in the workplace.
  4. Offer Acknowledgement – This generation is not solely interested in a mere job; they want a career that offers room to learn, room to move and room to grow.  Although they have grown up in the digital age, they prefer face-to-face communications and place great emphasis on immediate feedback. Those belonging to Gen Z want to know they are valuable contributors to the company as it moves forward.
  5. Champion Innovation & Social Responsibility – Social responsibility is hugely important to this generation. They want to be assured that what they do helps to move the world forward to a better place. Growing up in the digital age, they have a strong belief in the power of technology and prefer to be in a workplace that places value on new ideas, innovations and environmental and social responsibility.

Unlike more conservative previous generations, though, this group leans towards flexible work arrangements and is not tied to a 40-hour work week desk job. As a result, the tourism and hospitality sector could make for an appealing career choice that offers a sense of freedom, flexible shifts and opportunities for accelerated career advancement and growth.