In a recent blog, "Why Passion is the Future of Work: HR Leaders' Best Advice for Grads," I was quoted for noting, "doing what you love is the future of work." While this is true for millennials (and really, for people of any age as they advance in their careers), it's particularly salient for Generation Z.
Generation Z typically includes those born after 1995, and like every generation, they're distinct in their motivations and expectations regarding their career paths. They are less focused on money and prestige than previous generations, and their ranks include an impressive number of entrepreneurs.
In fact, more than four in ten Gen Zers plan to pursue entrepreneurship (four times higher than the actual percentage of people who work for themselves today at 6.6 percent) and 63 percent think entrepreneurship should be part of the higher education curriculum. The willingness of this cohort to go out on their own is born of a truly independent mindset. Coming of age in a far better economy than millennials did, they're also much less likely to move back home or return to graduate school after college.
How does all of the above lends itself to work defined by passion? There are three key trends employers should prepare for when it comes to hiring Generation Z:
1. A Sense of Purpose
Gen Zers expect to be told the purpose of every responsibility they assume. They tend to be focused and work hard, but they want to believe that their contributions matter. They seek results and aren't demure about receiving recognition.
2. Flexibility is Not Just a Buzzword
Gen Zers don't see the point of being locked into a 9-to-5 office environment. Employers who don't get on board with working remotely will likely fail to attract Gen Zers. Remember, this is the first generation that was born into a technologically connected world, and they find the requirement to be physically present at work rather quaint.
3. Global, Social, Mobile
Gen Z is better prepared than any other generation for the global workplace. They will be perfectly poised to work in global organizations and seamlessly able to expatriate when the opportunity presents itself. Social media and mobile are as natural to them as the telephone was to their grandparents. They grew up with technology—digital literacy is just as significant as literacy itself.
What Type of Jobs Fit Generation Z?
Gen Zers will have less competition from millennials or Gen Xers for many positions in social media and community management, app development, UI / UX design, cloud computing or sustainability or other "green" jobs, and data mining. The jobs of this generation will be roles that didn't even exist 10 years ago.
As a baby boomer myself, I see a lot to admire about Gen Z. My cohort, having grown up during the economic dream world of the 50s and 60s, tended to follow the money so that we could replicate or exceed our parents' comfortable lifestyles. Gen X was focused on finding prominence in their work, pursuing investment banking and other prestigious careers. The millennials, graduating into an abysmal economy, often had to defer their dreams of finding passion.
But Gen Z seems to have benefited from great economic and cultural timing, affording them the opportunity to truly follow their passions. Older generations have traditionally had to wait until retirement to find work that holds meaning—going back to school for their teaching certification to share their knowledge with students; or opening their own businesses where they can sell their famous secret barbecue sauce or pecan pies—but Gen Z, with its collective drive and ability, doesn't need to wait.
For the next generation of workers, following your dreams is no longer just a privilege. It's also a real possibility.
Photo: Creative Commons