‘Millennials are so yesterday’s news!’
- Several anonymous financial planning firm owners
Ouch! A blunt statement by obviously frustrated business owners who have had challenges employing millennials in their firms, but they do have a valid point. As Generation Z, the generation that follows the Millennials, is actually starting to enter the workforce… and many are hopeful that this up-and-coming generation could be the unicorn employers have been seeking.
Based on findings from early research, the arrival of “Gen Z” is an exciting opportunity for firms that have struggled sourcing, selecting, motivating and retaining Millennials, to finally secure the talent they need to help propel them forward.
Due to the average life expectancy in the USA increasing from 50-something years a hundred years ago, to 80-something now, we currently have five generations (Silent – Generation Z, as shown in the chart below), all with unique characteristics, in the workforce!
Millennials are a slightly larger generational cohort, but Gen Z is not far behind, and firms need to prepare themselves as the leading edge of these nearly-75-million individuals begin to look for full time jobs as they reach the ages of beginning to graduate from college.
However, firms that attempt to recruit, manage, and retain Gen Z the same way they have Gen Y might find themselves spinning their wheels. Gen Z are commonly and incorrectly referred to sometimes as a more extreme version of Millennials, but early studies by Deloitte and The Center for Generational Kinetics shows that this does not hold true.
Here are some of the most interesting distinctions about Generation Z versus the generations that preceded them, and a few tips to incorporate into your firm’s human capital management plans.
- Visual. Gen Z cannot remember a time without high speed internet and smart phones, and spend hours per day searching for information and consuming content. On average, they have an 8 second filter for online content, and are best reached through storytelling, explainer videos, and other visual mediums.
- Entrepreneurial minded. This group is much more open to starting their own companies or joining small start ups with ambitious goals and career tracks. They have also expressed interest in working for organizations that have a positive impact on society. The firms that we represent that are Certified B-Corps seem to attract more interest in most cases.
- Diverse. Roughly 50% of births amongst Gen Z were Hispanic and Asian, which should translate into a more diverse financial planning profession. I am already seeing this come to fruition in my role as an Adjunct faculty member at the University of Georgia’s Financial planning program, as my classes now are about 50% racially and gender diverse.
- Highly educated. More people from this generation will attend and graduate college. Likely because their Gen X parents saw many blue-collar jobs eliminated while coming of age in the 70’s and 80’s, making a college degree more crucial to career and financial success. Also, much like their Gen X parents, this group is less likely to leave a job if they aren’t feeling valued (at least compared to Millennials), though they have more of a preference for autonomy and rugged individualism (preferring to figure things out for themselves).
- Skeptical. This group is generally not as positive about the future of the country as Millennials were at the same age. Part of this is simply the unknown of leaving high school, entering college, and starting in the workforce. There are some strong Gen X influences as well, that can include distrust of government and large corporations.
Other demographers and commentators describe Gen Z as “old soul” types which could fit very well into a financial planning role where maturity, emotional intelligence, are required at high levels to succeed with clients who are typically much older than someone starting their financial planning career.
Keep in mind, when discussing cohorts made up of many tens of millions of people, not everyone will fit into a preset profile or category, so make sure you are open to people’s differences and understand things might vary and labeling someone as great or lousy because they hail from a certain generation doesn’t take into account the other variables, such as parenting, that could have an impact on the outcome.
Let us know if you are planning to make any financial planner hires this year so we can make it a painless process for you.