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July 29, 2015 Readers Write No Comments

Meet Generation Z
By Frank Myeroff

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The next generation to enter the workforce has been coined “Generation Z” or “Gen Z.”  Gen Z refers to the group of people born after the Millennial Generation.

There is no agreement on the exact range of birth dates. However, according to Wikipedia, some sources start this generation at the mid or late 1990s or from the mid-2000s to the present day. Right now they comprise about 7 percent of the workforce, but by 2019 it is estimated that 30 million will be employed.

As the father of two Gen Zers, I can tell you that not only is this generation the most digitally connected, but they have no concept about life before the Internet, mobile devices, digital games, or iTunes. This screen-based generation utilizes technology as a tool to communicate, share information, be entertained, receive and complete school assignments, obtain breaking news, and so much more in every aspect of their lives.

What do we as HIT executives and hiring managers need to know about Gen Z’s arrival in the HIT workplace?

  1. Expect leadership to be transparent. Because Gen Z knows the power of sharing and openness, they want leaders to be honest and forthcoming. There will be no place to hide for inept leaders.
  2. Expect leaders to provide immediate results. Gen Z is used to real-time information and moving at a fast pace. They want leaders to offer exposure to new HIT projects as well as show them how to attain a high level position in a short period of time.
  3. Plan on entrepreneurial spirit. Seventy-two percent of Gen Z expects to create and run their own startups at some point in their career. This means heavy competition. Organizations will not only have to compete against each other for talent, but against entrepreneurial startups.
  4. Derive possible cost savings. Expect a savings by hiring Gen Z. Since they’re transient and want to work remotely from any location in the world, you’ll probably save on office space, infrastructure, and relocation costs.
  5. Anticipate faster and easier access to healthcare. From my perspective and their use of technology, Gen Z knows that faster and easier access to healthcare is all about the adoption of emerging technology. They will expect better technical assistance and training and the adoption of HIT best practices in order to transform access to American health care. In addition, Gen Z will be demanding a higher quality of infrastructure and efficiency of operational systems in order to adopt systems that provide better quality of patient care.
  6. Expect higher education. For the most part, when talking to Gen Z, they plan on traditional college careers, but it’s as much for the social benefits and networking connections as it is for honing IT skills. After graduation, most plan to gain higher education and many plan to accomplish this through online learning.
  7. Plan for idealistic generation. They want to change the world, feel that their work in the HIT profession is of value to society, and love the idea of volunteer work, which many are already doing.

As more information about Gen Z emerges, it’s most interesting how they differ from other generations, including the Millennials. What will it take to attract and retain Gen Z HIT Professionals?

  1. Create a young professionals employee group. Starting an employee group for Gen Z will engage and empower these individuals to become future leaders by providing personal and professional development opportunities. Within this group, encourage networking and civic involvement.
  2. Provide the latest and best technology. Gen Z is accustomed to having the latest and greatest technology. They’ve been raised on smartphones, laptops, desktops, iPods, etc. and using multiple screens are the norm. Therefore, to get their attention and keep them happy, continuously invest in new technologies and provide Gen Z with the tech tools that will engage them and make them more successful.
  3. Provide a career path that is tailored to them. As we know, the HIT industry is exploding, which is creating all kinds of employment opportunities. In order to attract and retain Gen Z, offer them a broad range of areas within your organization where they can specialize and succeed. Think about tailoring positions that leverage Gen Z’s quick adoption of technology and their desire to move up quickly.
  4. Expand flexible work hours and remote connectivity. As the tools and technology evolve, make it part of your culture to allow remote participation in meetings. Think about embracing Web-based video conferencing and online meetings if you haven’t already.
  5. Offer coaching and mentoring. Gen Z expects your organization to offer formal coaching and mentoring programs. They will especially need training in interpersonal skills and communication.  They are so accustomed to communicating through the use of technology that most could use pointers on how to have an effective face-to-face dialogue.
  6. refresh your rewards and/or recognition programs. Gen Z professionals need more rewards and recognition programs than any other generation. They look for accolades on even minor accomplishments. You will need to reward often and keep changing the rewards program to keep up with their expectations.

Generation Z is quickly approaching and they’re ready to live and compete in the digital world like no other. This technologically savvy and extremely innovative generation feels that they can achieve anything and they will expect your HIT organization to support them and provide growth opportunities or risk losing them.

Frank Myeroff is president of Direct Consulting Associates of Cleveland, OH.

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