For organisations grappling with the first arrivals of GenerationZ graduates, working out how they learn is going to be vital. In the same way, companies looking to attract and then retain GenZ talent have to examine the same question.
And the answer most definitely is not: ‘The same as the Millennials’.
There is a tendency to think this most plugged-in of generations does all its learning online. There’s quite a lot of truth to that, but there are other factors at play.
To begin with, how is the young go-getter going to learn about your organisation? The big corporate website might get a quick look, much of which will be spent looking at corporate and environmental responsibility. Any hint that this is just to tick a box and isn’t genuine will be a major negative. And make the website optimised first and foremost for smartphone, other devices second.
YouTube is an almost permanent port of call, with the platform scoring a 94% recognition rate among GenZ compared to 82% for even the BBC channels. On YouTube they’ll explore what the company says and does – does it walk the walk as well as talk the talk? Then sites like Glassdoor will be searched for employee feedback from inside. All this will show whether the corporate messages are genuine or simply marketing and PR.
GenZ are online up to 13 hours a day, so they’re quite prepared to spend hours flicking through channels and platforms to gain the information they seek. They’ll look deep. By the time they’re 15, GenZ users will have been exposed to around 200,000 marketing messages so they’re already savvy and cautious.
There’s no question that GenZ people are self-reliant self-starters who are happy to self-teach. However they will listen to peer influencers. This doesn’t mean an organisation can ‘buy’ an influencer to peddle their product or service – GenZ would never fall for something as blatant as Beyonce drinking Pepsi or wearing L’Oreal. Instead GenZ users will gravitate towards brands like Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s brand that is famously inclusive, or PewDiePie, the gamer – someone who counts as a ‘real person’.
But GenerationZ are far from star-struck. One of the key differences between Millennials and GenZ online is not so much that GenZ are online more, which they are, but that they’re more interactive. They aren’t passive users of content, they spend more time communicating across everything from Snapchat to Instagram, and here they’ll listen to their peers.
It’s the same when they are at work. They will listen to co-workers. Not because they’re passive and absorbing company ethos, but because if they listen they might learn something to their advantage. They’ll then move forward, hopefully taking the company with them.
In-person communication is vital to GenZ employees. They want the face-to-face, even if that’s not something they do out of work as much. Part of that is the desire for management feedback. Ideally they’d want feedback every day – naïve though that may sound. They want that feedback so they can learn.
However, this is being noted by some corporations in the US already, with companies like GE and Adobe no longer just doing annual reviews, and instead bringing in regular feedback programmes. GenerationZ – live and learn.