How do we manage Gen Z for optimal results?


In the consumer marketplace one of the four broad categories used conveniently as a segmentation approach is demographics.

Demographic segmentation is based on variables such as age, gender, generational group, ethnicity and race. One approach to age segmentation is thus generational segmentation, which helps get at the heart of differences in needs and wants.

Though, there is no universal agreement on birth year ranges, commonly used generational groups consist of: GI (born 1901-1924); Silent (1925-1945); Baby Boomer (1946-1964); Generation X (1965-1977); Generation Y or millennial (1978-1994); Generation Z (after 1994).

In addition, there are some management and behavioural scholars who talk of seven different generations, namely Greatest Generation; Silent Generation; Baby Boomers; Generation X; Millennials; Generation Z (1997-2012); & Generation Alpha (2013-2025). Sociologists look for defining events as triggers for generational change, including world wars, major economic upheavals, such as the Great Depression; and, sociocultural revolutions, such as computers, and mobile telephony.

Gen Z or post-millennials, are the first generation to be born into the world of smartphones, social media and cloud computing technology. Names used for them include I Gen, Founders, and Centennials. It is notable that according to research by Deloitte, by 2025 Millennials will account for 75 percent of the global labour workforce.

Do businesses know how to align their demands with the younger workers’ expectations?

Interestingly, there’s an advertising consultancy firm that advises companies to communicate to millennials and Gen Z in “five words and a big picture.’’ Gen Z are committed to maintaining extensive social media and electronic communication networks. According to research, they are the most racially and technologically diversified generation ever. Further, they have an amiable, casual, and direct communication style.

It is noted that some even resign through SMS or WhatsApp. Furthermore, they have a more positive outlook on the future and possess a more grounded approach to their profession; they are self-directed and reliant, entitled, more demanding, avaricious and devious.

In regard to values and education, Gen Z prefer studying at their own pace. They understand the importance of having hands-on experience before entering the labour force, so many complete internship opportunities as part of their graduate degree programmes. However, they need further help to develop soft skills like time management, teamwork, communication, coaching and mentorship.

Companies thus need to be familiar with this tech-savvy and always-mobile generation to accomplish their preferences for learning. Moreover, they prefer to work virtually than to meet physically. They greatly value individualism and prefer to be well-informed.

In regard to work and professional goals, their work ethics are defined by their preference for flexibility, individualism, personal freedom and openness. In the short term, one may adopt the following recommendations for employers and managers: enhancing information sharing to ease uncertainties. According to research, Gen Z has had to deal with a youth mental health crisis because of economic uncertainties caused by a worldwide health pandemic.

Gen Z is motivated by meaningful work. They stand out because they want to understand how their particular efforts and place on the team contribute to the company’s larger goals.

To successfully engage Gen Z, employers need to rethink recruitment strategies, embrace flexibility and work-life balance, and leverage technology for improved performance.

Dr Ndegwa is executive director/CEO of the Kenya Institute of Management (KIM).

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