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At the HART

Generation Z: agents of change

Every generation has its own rules in the workplace. HARTMANN Talent Manager Michael Wohlstein tells us how to play the game with Generation Z.
🕐 3:30 minutes

by Michael Wohlstein

A new generation is coming. And organisations that refuse to ride the wave will miss out on the adventure ahead.

Gen Z: making waves

As talent manager with the HARTMANN GROUP, I can only embrace the tide of endless talent sweeping over our organisation. That’s because I know what it will leave in its wake:

  • new ways to develop healthcare solutions and services with a sustainable impact;
  • consumer products designed with a social purpose in mind; and a 
  • growing sense of fulfilment to help move the world forward.

Researchers have spent years analysing the Millennials (Generation Y), those born in the early 80s to mid-90s. And now, with new data on Generation Z (born in 1995 or later), the conversation has shifted to focus on the vast differences between the two groups.

It is said that Generation Z is the most multicultural generation. They are technologically adept and are remarkably mature for their age. They are eager to contribute to society and their consumption behaviour is driving businesses to rethink how they reach young audiences: Snapchat or Sit-In?

One of the biggest differences is communication styles.

Gen Z has an affinity for multi-tasking on multiple screens and prefers a variety of channels for getting information. They seek more visuals and snack size data that provide instant gratification. Studies suggest that their brains have evolved to process more information at faster speeds, and are more able to handle bigger mental challenges. And unlike Millennials, they see the importance of disconnecting from their screens.

This makes them more agile communicators, capable of handling rapid-fire banter and commentary. However, precision communication is not their forte, so they tend to leave a lot of room for interpretation.

Above all else, they want to be seen as knowledgeable. They want to be treated with respect, and treated like an adult. They demand challenges and responsibility.


Gen Z: Motivated. Not money-hungry

Nevertheless, there is something that surpasses the generational gap: the impact of a growing “Gig Economy”, also known as the era of the freelancer. This dimension brings a new dynamic to the working world, pushing each generation to define the true added value they bring to their respective employer. Despite their differences, both generations share three core values: work to make an impact, work with a purpose, and work with those who have a passion for what they do.

Instead of emphasising salary when talking to Gen Z, focus on career advancement opportunities, a strong sense of culture, and other values that aren't tied to money. While 42 percent of Gen Y said money would “motivate them to work harder and stay with their employer longer,” that number fell to 28 percent for Gen Z.

They appreciate stability and an investment in employee success and long-term careers.

A strong internal mobility program can highlight how you value your employees and strive to enable them to do their best work. They are looking to make an impact, and want to work for a company that gives them an opportunity to do so.

Take a cue from some companies already leading the way.

Marriott hotels’ Awards of Excellence, honours a group of associates for driving leadership across the workplace. Support for Work-Life Effectiveness addresses Gen Z’s desire to have a healthy work-life balance providing resources such as onsite child care, child and elder care discounts, new parent coaching and innovative workplace flexibility.

If we look at the health industry, Novo Nordisk ranked 73 in the 2017 Best Companies to Work For. Their WAY to go! Program allows employees to show appreciation for colleagues’ outstanding performance and allows managers to further acknowledge colleagues’ contributions to the organisation. It awards points along with their recognitions.

Going further for Gen Z

If they demand responsibility, give them responsibility.

At HARTMANN, we have three programs specifically designed to do just that. This is part of our L.A.C.E. mindset (Leadership, Accountability, Commitment, Execution). These four principles form an important guard rail and remind us daily that we can always go further for our employees.

Our partnership with the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg (DHBW), is a collaboration with universities to help students combine on-the-job training and academic studies, while providing practical experience and security. To date, 97 percent of participants graduate with a job. YoungTalents Junior Company offers a chance to take risks in a controlled environment; learning how to manage themselves in different teams, and the innerworkings of a business. The International Graduate Program is an 18-month program that allows one young employee the opportunity to focus on an organizational specialty. This could be human resources, supply chain management, marketing, or sales. It includes a project abroad where students are matched with a personal mentor and receive regular feedback to create personal (and professional) development goals and objectives.

The truth is, every generation brings its own personality and set of rules. For Gen Z, the rules come sprawled across three screens, on two devices, but for one purpose: change the world we live in.

A new generational wave is coming.
We’re ready to embrace the tide;
set to get lost in the groundswell;
and eager to go further for this next generation.

We love a challenge.

Michael Wohlstein
Senior Manager Talent Manager, HARTMANN GROUP
Michael Wohlstein

Michael Wohlstein is Senior Talent Manager at HARTMANN GROUP. A certified business coach and enthusiastic people manager, he began his career as a logistics officer in the German Airforce. He finds the best part of his job to be taking employees successfully to the next level of their career.

Follow @mwohlstein on Twitter.