The Z Generation

The Z Generation

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In today’s globally networked society, what is done has become far more important than how or where it’s done.

The workplace as we know it is evolving, and you need to ensure that you are in the strongest possible position to attract and retain only the best future employees by keeping up with current trends.

Fact: The Z Generation is here. They are the generation that has grown up with the Internet, social networking and email… and they’re due to start filtering into the job market as early as 2013.

Understanding Gen Z

This generation has high expectations, particularly of their future workplace. Gone are the days of the Baby Boomers who spent 20 years of their life working for the same company, slowly climbing their way up the corporate ladder.

This generation is fickle, gets bored easily and will not remain anywhere where they don’t feel adequately stimulated on all levels.Gen Z is made up of group-orientated multi-taskers who will do things bigger, better and faster than any of the generations who have come before them, including you.

So, how can you prepare for this new employee? Consider a few of the tips below to ensure your business remains attractive to the employees of the future.

1. Foster creative networks

Collaboration and networking are the new platforms on which to do business.

However, the importance of networking within an organisation (and not just on the outside) has come to the fore. This means that we spend less time alone at our desks, we work in teams, in different work forms, and in different places both inside and outside the office. Ensure that you provide an infrastructure for encounters — remember, ‘We’ is the new ‘I’.

2. Indulge the individual

Focus on developing the individual as well as your individual departments. Different spatial zones need to be custom-fit in order to accommodate the different activities an individual or department needs to perform. The idea is to develop new work spaces as opposed to one complete work place. Every person prefers to work in a certain way, so try to accommodate as many possibilities as you can because when someone feels good, they perform better.

3. Embrace corporate culture

You need to look at changing the internal company culture first before you can expect to change the way the public perceives your company.

We are now at the beginning of a creative economy and the psychological effects of spaces are important. Your corporate identity is the backbone of your business and you can rest assured that if your staff (and visiting clients) ‘live’ and enjoy your brand, they will promote it as well.

4. Promote the ‘fun factor’

The world is recovering from an economic depression — the introduction of fun elements helps to boost employee morale and promotes creativity. You can’t expect your staff to ‘think outside the box’ when you make them sit in a blank room with four  walls… in other words: literally a box. Remember, you will always get more out of people when they are having fun.

5. Create a place of wellbeing

Work is now considered to be a place of wellbeing and potential employees have become more interested in the holistic benefits that companies offer them. Crèches, gyms and in-house dining are only a few of the basics that new employees now look for in a working environment. As our lives become more inter-meshed with our work, there is a constant need to juggle the requirements of our work and private lives as efficiently as possible.

6. Drive flexibility through tech

Workplace flexibility helps businesses succeed and employees thrive by giving people an integral role in deciding how, when and where they do their best work. This particularly applies to working moms, those dealing with heavy traffic, staff who are studying part-time and so on. As mentioned above, there is an overlap between work and play and the ‘9 to 5’ way of working no longer suits people’s lifestyles.

With the development of mobile technology, people expect to have access to their personal emails and social network at all times. After all, connectivity is the key to collaboration and networking.

A number of innovative companies have even promoted a ‘bring your own device to work’ policy. Staff members work on their own private laptops and cellphones, while the business saves money on providing and managing these various assets. Companies need to change their focus from how long their employees are physically at the office, to how much work they actually get done while they are working.

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Kerry Tangney
Kerry Tangney is a qualified interior designer with over eight years’ experience designing corporate office spaces. She has worked for numerous private space planning and design firms and currently heads up the design department within the Workspace Planning division of one of South Africa’s major banks. Part of her mandate is to remain at the forefront of current and future trends in workplace design and she has a keen interest in the emotional effects of spaces.