Preparing for a Gen Z Workplace

Next generation has different expectations, aspirations that if unmet will result in loss of valuable facilities personnel.

Here they come, Gen Z. These young adults are the newest wave moving into the workforce.

But what sets them apart from millennials or Gen Xers?

Born between 1995-2015, Gen Z is the first generation to be completely literate with social media platforms and technology. They grew up with computers and have had a cell (or smart) phone since the age of 10.

Gen Zers are aware of environmental issues, socially conscious and understand cooperation is necessary to achieve change. And they want to be part of the solution.

Many have accumulated postsecondary education debt that they’re eager to settle. They are looking for financial security through a steady job, but also want good pay and the ability to advance through the ranks. Otherwise, they will move on to another place of employment.

To keep Gen Zers around (and motivated), it’s important to work in collaborative teams to create deliverables; encourage participation and try out their ideas to instill pride in their work; treat them as equal members of the facilities management team to increase sense of belonging; effectively communicate and provide constructive feedback that leads to improvements and overall growth; implement flexible hours and support remote work to ensure work-life balance; allow the use of smartphones in meetings to conduct research on the fly and generally stay connected with those ‘outside;’ recognize a job well-done and afford opportunities for advancement; and offer benefits geared specifically to this generation. Unlike millennials who pushed for technological updates and innovation, gym memberships and co-working conference rooms or virtual work arrangements, Gen Zers are interested in monetary incentives, such as partial payment of a master’s degree, paid childcare services and financial support for training certification programs.

Mentoring is also key to boost Gen Zer satisfaction and retention, and help this generation flourish. With few available jobs until baby boomers retire, this can begin prior to their graduation. Approach a college or university about available trainee positions for students interested in pursuing a lifetime career in facilities management. Once ‘hired,’ they should tour the facility (beyond their computer platforms) and do a walkabout with the facilities team. During this time, identify areas that may require special attention, such as those subject to potential leakage during heavy rainstorms, and encourage questions from Gen Zers. For mentoring to be most effective, ensure overlap between incoming and outgoing personnel. This provides the opportunity for new hires to follow daily, weekly and monthly routines of seasoned professionals before they leave the company, making for a smooth transition. It is also the best way to ensure organizations don’t lose important institutional knowledge as senior managers retire to make room for the next generation.

Above all else, nurture Gen Zers that join the facilities team. They will bring exceptional value and help make the company the employer of choice for the upcoming next group entering the workforce — Gen Alpha.

Published in the February 2020 edition of CFM&D Magazine

Written by:

Marcia O'Connor

Owner at AMFM Consulting Group Inc.