Organizations are working in a different business landscape: a rapid and forced shift to a virtual and remote world. The silver lining to this is that remote work enables companies to hire flexible and contingent staff, and is an opportune time to think cost consciously about open and future requisitions in favor of those who may not have been traditionally thought of in the past for certain roles. Enter: Generation Z.

Welcome to the workforce, Generation Z! This class of 2020, without a typical graduation ceremony and usual spring of job hunting and interviews, is entering the workforce during a time when the unemployment rate is the highest it has been since the Great Depression. Covid will define this generation much like how other events define previous generations. But what makes this workforce unique and how can organizations benefit from them right now?

Gen Z’ers are:

  • Technologically savvy: they were born with the internet. In fact, they have not known life without being connected. They are more technology focused than any other generation and are staying connected with social media, YouTube, and gaming. They are already adept at conducting their needs online and virtually.
  • Independent and entrepreneurial: many are using this time to learn and grow skills. Their education has shifted to online learning and they are using these skills to their advantage.
  • Change advocates who grew up with diversity: they have and want a voice. They are the ones forming grass roots movements against current policies and rallying around common causes important to them. They have grown up in a diverse world and understand that everyone is unique. They do not need to be taught about diversity.
  • Fresh and ready: they are new to the workforce and ready to use their degrees to build their resumes. They are eager to make a difference and want to have purpose.

How can organizations help Gen Z and vice versa? And why would organizations do this? Not only is this an opportunity to reevaluate and assess current needs but it’s also a way to have eager, fresh talent build their resume since their job hunt is likely stagnant.

If we work through this example job role, how could we consider a recent graduate to fill it?

Example Role and Context: Business Planning Consultant for an organization connecting youth with themselves, others, and the planet. The organization has created a digital platform that supports experiential educators in spreading their knowledge, supports educators in implementing more experiential education, and creates a space for facilitators and educators to connect, grow and co-create. They have recently launched the first version of the platform which holds 100 activities and the ability for users to discover, filter, create and share. The organization is seeking a business planning consultant to create a business plan and recommendations for a for-profit/non-profit hybrid for research to launch the business model in the fall and the possibility to be hired to support the selected recommendation.

Below are questions that organizations could consider while keeping Generation Z characteristics in mind for multiple opportunities. Let’s consider them for the example business planning consultant role:

Can this role be remote? And work efficiently with technology? Yes, they can collect data, navigate the client organization online, gather knowledge, schedule virtual video enabled interviews; project manage, schedule timelines and deadlines online. And the online platform for Gen Z will be a good test for navigating the user access.

Is this an opportunity for entry level? Yes, if this is a business major graduate seeking to enter consulting or financial sectors to help build their resume.

Are there any volunteer opportunities for a few hours per week? Yes, this role could be as much or as little as someone would like to commit or as much as the organization requires.

Is it possible to break a role into smaller pieces of work at a time for contract/hourly work? Yes, this role could focus on research and looking at other similar organizations first; next, could be providing incremental pieces of the business plan.

Is there purpose and an opportunity to the work? Yes, they provide a recommendation with the opportunity to be hired to see it through if they are successful.

Even if there is not a particular role in mind, there are other opportunities for organizations to use this generation for research and focus groups. For example,market research and what appeals to them, employee engagement needs and what benefits are important to them or their ways of working with other generations. Value that they may have time to provide while they are waiting to be hired and will provide long term benefits to an organization.

Collaboration and short-term mutual benefits will prepare organizations for this new generation’s larger entry into the workforce, and in the long term, create greater momentum and trust with this generation. Organizations that can lead this group of talent well (and early) will realize benefits not just in terms of profit and revenue, but also their abilities to engage, innovate, and collaborate with them – all from their parent’s basement.