SmartSimple Blog

Why Employers Should Start Preparing Now For Generation Z

Posted by Stacey Hellas on Jul 23, 2018 11:13:00 AM
 Photo by Julian Gentilezza

At 35%, Millennials are officially the largest generation currently working in the US. Coming up hot on their heels is the largest, single generational cohort in the country. Generation Z, at 26% of the population, and it’s never too early to start planning for their role on the world stage.

But are they any different than their predecessors? As a matter of fact, they are. Everything from how they interact with nonprofits to how they decide where to spend their money. Born between 1996 and 2010, this generational cohort has already made a mark on society as being a new generation of “givers.” As of the summer of 2017, 30% have already been donating to nonprofits and 26% have actively raised money for a cause in the US.

The world through green colored glasses

This is a generation that has never known a world without the internet, social media or mobile technology. They’ve been, for the most part, raised with recycling, climate change, and diversity education. The vast majority (92%) care about environmental and social issues, with 9 out of 10 saying they’re worried about the health of our planet. In their opinion, they feel that companies should be helping address the urgent issues impacting the Earth. That’s more than Millennials or the average American.

These traits impact everything this cohort does, from how they engage with friends and family to how they learn, shop, and donate. And because they have a strong focus on being environmentally responsible, this worldview will also inform where they choose to work.


 Photo by Ethan Hu Photo by Ethan Hu


The difference (and similarities) between Millennials and Generation Z employees

According to a report produced by Randstad, a global leader in HR innovation, 87% of Generation Z feels it’s important to work for a company that gives back to the community. That’s 8% higher than their Millennial counterparts, suggesting that companies may want to ensure their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs have the flexibility to keep both generations engaged in corporate giving activities.

There are some similarities between Millennials and Generation Z though. Workplace benefits, such as diversity, gender equity, flexibility, and regular interaction with managers and mentors are important to Generation Z. But Millennials put a high value on health coverage and being able to work independently.

Letting their wallets do the talking

This is where things start to get interesting. While both generations place a high value on getting involved in social causes and where they spend their money, differs between the two generations. The vast majority (90% of Generation Z and 91% of Millennials) prefer to purchase products that have social or environmental benefits. However, we start to see a difference in how involved each generation gets in volunteering for a cause they care about (87% of Generation Z to 81% of Millennials), and signing petitions to support a cause (84% of Generation Z compared to 79% of Millennials).


 Photo by Rawpixel Photo by Rawpixel


The widest gaps appear in boycotting products. We looked at a 2017 study conducted by Cone Communications, a leading-edge research agency, and they found that only 79% of Generation Z would boycott products compared to the 90% of Millennials said they would. When it comes to protests, 58% of Generation Z will get out there and march. None of the surveyed Millennials said they would take an active stand.

Let’s look at the tragedy of the Stoneman Douglas shooting in Florida as an example. Students used social media hashtags, such as #NeverAgain (199,000 followers), as the rallying point, leading to a national student walkout. "This is the first time that there is a mass movement among pre-college students, staging walkouts and protests in the manner that has been done about other issues in the past," said Columbia University professor, Ed Morales, of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race.

The balancing act: How to keep Millennial employees engaged while attracting Generation Z

Stay ahead of the curve with these 3 key areas of focus: attract, engage, and retain:

  • Attract: Provide employees with the flexibility and opportunities to impact outcomes, let them be entrepreneurs, plan now to connect and introduce this new cohort to your organization.

  • Engage: Offer regular feedback, let them be creative, give them freedom to modify their workspace to reflect their working style, provide plenty of variety in their roles

  • Retain: Give them opportunities to provide input, keep an open dialogue, have strong CSR values and initiatives, stay on top of the latest technology trends.

The importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

In some ways, Generation Z isn’t so different from the general workforce in the US today. When we look at the value they place on CSR, we see it’s very much the same as what both the Millennials and the general population consider priorities.

For example, having a strong CSR program tops the list with 97% of Generation Z, 93% of Millennials, and 94% of the general population. Looking at helping people and the environment, 91% of both Generation Z and Millennials, and 90% of the general population believe this should also be a strong focus for employers.

That said, when asked what the most important issue is for CSR programs, Generation Z rated poverty and hunger as key issues, while both Millennials and the general population felt economic development is top of the list. So while corporate responsibility as a concept is important to many, how they want to participate and what nonprofits they want to support varies. Having a flexible, ever-evolving CSR program is critical to future-proofing how your organization recruits new employees from a changing pool of talent.


 Photo by Julie Johnson Photo by Julie Johnson


Using CSR to recruit great talent

Generation Z doesn’t just want to work for companies who give back to the community, they also want to be rewarded for their own community service. The results of another survey highlighted in the Randstad report cited what Generation Z considered the most impactful way companies can make a difference in communities — starting a fundraising initiative, allowing time off to volunteer, and allowing employees to be directly involved in corporate giving initiatives — suggest that an employer’s CSR program could very well be a deciding factor for where Generation Z candidates will accept employment.

Generation Z clearly wants to work for companies that integrate corporate citizenship into their culture and values. In fact, their top 3 priorities in a full-time job are:

  • Opportunities for career growth

  • Generous pay

  • Making a difference or having a positive impact on society

Preparing your CSR program for the future workforce

The best way to ensure you have the software tools to keep your CSR program inline with the needs of your employees is to implement flexible, online CSR solution that’s accessible anywhere, anytime. By having software that flexes and adapts to the needs of your CSR programs as they evolve, you’ll save your organization significant time, financial and IT resources when it becomes necessary to update and expand your program as priorities change.

Both of SmartSimple’s all-in-one Corporate Giving and Employee Giving solutions are completely configurable to the distinct needs of your company’s CSR programs. No matter what or how often you need to make changes, administrators of your CSR programs can do so quickly and easily, and more economically than other custom-built solutions on the market.

Our wide range of integrations include GuideStar Charity Check, CAF America, the United States Census Bureau, Foundation Center, the IRS, and OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control) which ensures your giving initiatives are funding legitimate nonprofits. Every part of your program can be automated, from requests for in-kind contributions and gift matching to creating disaster relief campaigns to respond to humanitarian crises more rapidly and efficiently. Every process is tracked, and all data of all your CSR programs in your system can be reported on in a multitude of formats.

Topics: Corporate Social Responsibility, Responsible Companies