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Gen Z: What Senior Care Needs to Know About the Next Generation

August 22, 2017 | Mike Pumphrey

Senior CareEach generation has its own unique characteristics, particularly when it comes to how they approach work. Baby boomers are known for their strong work ethic and disciplined nature. Generation X is known for their “work smarter, not harder” mindset. Millennials are known for being entrepreneurial and expect to be rewarded for the work they do.  

As new generations enter the workforce, employers need to be prepared for how the generation’s mindset will impact their organization. And so, just as your senior care organization has adopted to the rising number of millennials in their communities, a new generation is entering the workforce. 

Generation Z (also known as Gen Z or Gen Zers) includes those born between 1995 and 2010 and will represent 75% of the workforce by 2030. And like every generation before them, Gen Z has a unique mind of their own, especially when it comes to the type of job and workplace they want. 

  • Making a positive impact – This generation is looking to make an impact on the world, whether it’s on a global or local scale. Thirty percent of Gen Zers said they would be willing to make less money for a job that has a positive impact. And 60% said they want to have an impact on the world compared to 39% of Millennials. 
  • Job security – The events of the “Great Recession” have had a big impact on this generation. They know having a job today doesn’t hold any guarantee for a job tomorrow, and so they are looking for careers and organizations that are stable, growing and offer a sense of security. 
  • Work-life balance – Much like millennials, Gen Z will be seeking opportunities that allow them to balance their personal lives and their job. They will expect transparency and reasonable flexibility when it comes to schedules. But unlike Millennials, they aren’t as interested in remote opportunities. The majority of Gen Z would rather communicate face-to-face than through electronic means, or by phones.  
  • Mentorship opportunities – Gen Z is most interested in learning from those who came before them, and will often thrive best in environments where they feel they have a clear mentor to help guide them.  

What to Know About Hiring Gen Z 

The current industry shortage is only anticipated to get worse, so it's important for senior care organizations to understand how to best attract this new generation of workers. Much like the generations that have come before them, Gen Zers will be looking for companies that promote work/life balance. But that’s not the only factor. 

If you’re looking to attract high quality Gen Z candidates, be sure to speak to how your organization is committed to the following:  

  • Personal & corporate integrity: The next generation of workers wants to know they are working for a company that has integrity and promotes that integrity from the top down.
  • Genuine ties to the community & authentic social responsibility: As previously noted, Gen Z is looking for a career that allows them to make an impact, and therefore will be seeking companies and organizations that share that desire. 
  • Opportunities for advancement: Gen Z doesn’t want to feel stagnant. When interviewing a Gen Zer take the time to discuss their career goals in both the short and long term, and show how your organization can help advance their careers forward over time. 

It’s also important for employers to keep in mind that Gen Z is part of the “Google” generation, meaning they will likely know a lot about your organization before you even talk to them. Customer reviews, as well as job specific reviews left on websites like Indeed and Glassdoor, play a big factor in whether or not a Gen Zer will not only accept a job, but apply for one in the first place. Make sure you are keeping an eye on what others are saying about you online, and be prepared to address any glaring issues with potential candidates.  

What to Know About Retaining Gen Z 

Much like Millennials, the majority of Gen Z believes three years or less is the appropriate amount of time to spend at a first job. This is partly because they are driven by advancing their career, but also, find themselves skeptical of company loyalty. This is likely a result of growing up in tumultuous economic times in which they saw their parents laid-off from companies regardless of performance or length of tenure. That said, in order to retain Gen Z, long-term care and senior living providers need to play on three of the largest defining features of this new generation—their individualistic nature, their highly competitive spirit and their tech way of life. 

The competitive nature of Gen Z could prove to be highly beneficial to employers who promote healthy, performance-based competition. Something as simple as an agreed upon rewards program that provides consistent, measurable “winning or losing” will go a long way with this generation. They want to know they are contributing in a meaningful way, not just coming to work as a participant.  

They also expect employers to treat them as individuals, allowing them to be proactive and take ownership over specific tasks. This desire to take on responsibility is a big plus for employers who know how to take advantage of this trait. 

But the biggest thing to keep in mind when thinking about Gen Z is the fact that even the oldest Gen Zers won’t remember a time without the internet, while the youngest will never know a time without smartphones. Because of this, they have higher expectations about how things should operate in the world, more specifically, they expect things to be fast and technology-based.   

From having access to their staff schedules, communicating with their managers, to providing feedback, Gen Z will expect to be able to complete all these things from their mobile device. Meaning now is the time for the senior care industry to invest in employee scheduling software that allows their newest workers to do just that.    

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About Mike Pumphrey

Mike Pumphrey is Vice President of Product Marketing at OnShift. His expertise in staffing and labor management strategies in long-term care and senior living is foundational to his role leading OnShift’s Product Marketing team. Mike works hand-in-hand with state and national associations, senior care providers, and with OnShift’s Customer Success and Product teams to create impactful best practices aimed to help solve the daily workforce challenges in senior care. Mike shares insights, research and recommendations to improve clinical, operational, and financial outcomes through regular blog posts and conference speaking engagements.

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