Get Ready for Gen Z

April 2022 |

How to make your practice an employer of choice for the next wave of employees coming your way.

Get ready! Centennials, also known as “Gen Z,” will soon make up 40% of the workforce. Born between 1997 and 2012 (making the oldest currently 25), they’re already starting to work for you. “We need to know how we can welcome this new generation into our practices and embrace what they bring to the world,” says Heather Romano, a veterinary business consultant.

Centennial Snapshot
More similar to the “Greatest Generation” than to the Millennials who precede them, Centennials are considered practical and cautious. “They understand that the world is a tough place and it’s going to be a hard job to change it,” says Romano.

Centennials are also expected to be eager workers. Terrified of long-term debt, they can’t wait to start working and are likely to stay in their jobs longer. “They want to get out of school and jump feet-first into the workplace,” says Romano. When selecting a job, their first priority is an employer who can offer secure employment, then professional development, and then an inspiring purpose, she adds.

What They Want
Once employed, a key job factor for Centennials is supportive leadership. “Centennials aren’t as needy as Millennials, but they do need to be supported,” says Romano. Another priority for this group is positive work relationships—80% of Centennials report wanting a job where they can relate to the people they work with. Evaluate your team, Romano suggests. “Toxic individuals could drive your Centennials away,” she says.

Communicating with Centennials
Your communication style is important as well, says Romano. When interacting with your Centennial employees, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Be authentic and honest. Centennials are slow to trust and quick to spot insincerity. Don’t be fake or offer fake praise. “Lie to them once, and you lose their trust forever,” says Romano.
  • Embrace cultural diversity. Centennials are the most culturally diverse generation ever. “Subtle racist comments and cultural insensitivity will send them packing,” says Romano.
  • Listen. “Seriously, truly learn to listen,” says Romano. Ask for their input and opinions and create a positive environment for sharing.
  • Get to the point. Training and communication need to be bite-sized and to the point. “Centennials decide what is important in eight seconds,” says Romano. “If it’s not important, their brain moves on.”
  • Use technology. Consider texting apps for initial interviews, Romano suggests, as well as time-tracking and PTO-request apps. Send some feedback (positive only) via apps. “Remember that they have never known a world without cell phones,” she says.
  • Don’t skip face-to-face. Although they do love to text, 72% of Centennials want face-to-face communication too. “They grew up in a world where a lot of relationships happened over the internet or video game consoles, so they find a lot of value in face-to-face relationships and getting to know other human beings,” says Romano. “They want to connect with clients and team members.”

Managing Centennials
When possible, try to provide some autonomy when you give Centennial employees a project. Taught to be self-reliant by their Gen X parents, this group will not tolerate micromanaging, Romano says. “They don’t need coddling or constant praise,” she adds, “but make sure that you give them feedback, clear deadlines and the opportunity to succeed or fail.”

And, don’t expect blind trust. Centennials won’t respect someone solely because they are a supervisor, says Romano. They are confident in their own abilities and ideas and want to help—and that’s something to celebrate. “This is the kind of mentality you want to create in a practice,” says Romano.