This year we will have the first Generation Z undergraduate finishing school and join the workplace. This Generation is already 25% of today’s U.S population. Therefore they are growing force in the workplace. Current businesses need this generation to provide new ideas and blood to keep the organizations growing. Generation Zs are looking for opportunities to join the workforce. The problem is that both Generation Z and current organizations have trouble reaching one each other. Generation Z expects a different culture in the workplace, one that existing businesses are unable to provide (for various reasons discussed below). Therefore, Generation Zs are reluctant to join existing organizational structures and prefer to create their own companies or provide services; in doing so, they become less likely to get a job when they get out of college.
There is one fundamental difference between Generation Z and previous generations. Generation Z was born into an environment where decentralization, distribution and Hybrid groups defeating the old centralized, command and control and siloed structure. The Internet, The new wave of terror cells, The Arab spring, Blockchain and others are examples of new and more efficient structures that beat the one that previous generations deemed as a better structure (naturally than the previous common structure). Understanding this difference is a crucial understanding of what Generation Z is looking for at the working place.
What members of Generation Z are looking for is a purpose driven, wholeness and self-managed environment. This generation expects the organization that they are joining to:
1) Have a profound meaning that can contribute to humanity or at least to their community.
2) Provide a workplace where they can express themselves without wearing any masks. A culture focused on radical truth, radical transparency, and self-awareness.
3) Give them the ability to manage themselves, to be part of the organization, to feel and be the owner.
4) Enable them to work on different projects where they can express the diverse expertise they have.
Regretfully, most of the existing companies are running based on an opposite set of beliefs and principles. For those organizations, it is impossible to make the change that the future generation is expecting. This gap is the primary drive beyond Generation Z self-initiative efforts, and why you’ll see many people calling them the most entrepreneur generation.
You can find many articles explaining how to make your current environment more friendly to generation Z, but to be honest enough we are talking here about a fundamental change that required a change in existing organizational culture and structure. As we all know, to drive a new corporate culture is a complicated and tedious effort. Even if you have the right leader to reach a successful culture change, the new appealing culture for Generation Z might be a culture that will push other generations away from your company. Not something that you want as well.
Sometimes it’s better to create new organization rather than change the existing. It feels that this is the case for Generation Z. Instead of trying to do the impossible and change your current company culture to fit all generations, it might be a better solution to create a new business entity with the right culture for Generation Z. It can be a new company, division or department. Any new structure builds on what generation Z is expecting from the workplace will be a much practical and easier approach to attract new generations. Obviously, As the new entity is more independence from the initiating entity, the probability of new culture adoption and success is higher.
I know that that might sound too bold approach, but never underestimate the huge difficulties coming with culture change and always try to find out why the majority of cultural changes fail. Try to take the new entity approach, the risk is relatively small, and it gives you more control and ability to stop this exercise without impacting your current business.