Gen Z are those grads who started entering the workforce a few years ago. 

They’re also called the i-Gen – as in iPad and iPhone and Zoomers. 

Generational “personalities”

Generational personalities don’t come so much from the actual year someone was born – or the span of years – but from events that a generation of people – a cohort – experience as they grow up at a certain time in society’s history.

It’s these significant events that shape the values of a cohort.  

It shapes how they live, work, and interact with others.   There’s always a huge and significant defining moment in time that starts a generation.

For example, Covid-19 will draw the line in the sand between the Zoomers and this new generation.   Maybe’ll it’ll be called Gen-C as in Covid.   

Today, though, I want to talk about Generation Z – sometimes known as the i-Generation.

Gen-Z, i-Gen, Zoomers’ defining societal moments

Given it’s major defining moments in time that shape a generation, then Gen Z is the generation born after 1996.  

This is because the last, most important defining moment for Millennials was 9/11 – which happened in 2001.

Those born from 1996 onward don’t remember the events of 11 September 2001 happening.  

If you don’t remember 9/11, or someone in your clinic doesn’t remember 9/11, then you or they aren’t Millennials, but a member of that generation’s little sisters and brothers – Gen Z.   

When you get what shapes a generation, you’re more likely to understand why a generation is the way it is.

Let’s quickly look at what shaped Gen Z:

This generation doesn’t know life without social networking or smartphones, gun violence and massacres, climate change, the ability to always be wired and connected, corporate social responsibility, the Global Financial Crisis, terrorism and war, volunteerism (think:  the student army in Christchurch, after other earthquakes and major floods here in NZ), text messaging, shared family responsibilities, gender equality & gender fluidity and video phone calls – think Facetime and Zoom.  

Gen-Z – the Internet just “is”

Gen Z have never lived in a world where the Internet didn’t exist.  

The Gen Zs – the Zoomers – are the ones who make the rest of us feel old.  They were born after 1996 through to about 2010 with a Smartphone in their back pockets.

They’re digital natives.  They have never experienced a world – at least a Western World – in analogue format.  They only know digital.

They have apps for everything – doesn’t everyone? 

Even though we might think they’re too young to know or have experienced much, just think back to what’s happened since 1995. 

As I just said, globalisation, digital everything, recession, climate change, terrorism, technology expansion and now, a global pandemic.

And like their Millennial big brothers and sisters before them, this group has enjoyed the benefits of smaller family sizes, strong parental guidance, and heavy use of social media and portable technologies.

Gen-Z want blended lives

The Zoomers have a new goal in life:  while the rest of us are hung up on work life balance, this cohort is all about work life BLEND. 

As Dave Stillman, author of “Gen Z @ Work” states, the Zoomers are money focussed – not because they’re necessarily materialistic, although like other preceding generations, that’s true for some of them, but because they believe their big brother and sister millennial generation has been straddled with debt of which they had no control.

Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace – David Stillman & Jonah Stillman

This generation is very cognisant that working for money, rather than ideals, is what pays the bills.

Stillman and his Gen-Z son, Jonah, before Covid shut our world down, travelled around the globe helping businesses hire and retain Zoomers.  

7 personality traits that define Gen-Z

Stillman has identified 7 personality traits that define GenZ.

#1. Pragmatic. 60% say they want a long career with one company.  Now, I’m not sure about you, but that sounds very much like their Baby Boomer grandparents.  It sure sounds like something my parents and grandparents talked about.

#2. Competitive. Almost half consider themselves very competitive.  Unlike Millennials – who grew up with everyone getting a medal just for showing up, this cohort doesn’t think like that.  They’re competitive.

#3. Connected. 84% prefer face to face communications with their boss.  If you think you’re entering their paradigm by sending them a text, you’ve got the wrong generation – that’s the Millennials who prefer a text.  Zoomers grew up with Facetime and video chats.  They want face to face.  

#4. Socially responsible. 93% say that a company’s impact on society affects their decision to work there. 

#5. Customisers.  There’s no limit to their ideas, but half would rather get a job than create one.  So only half of this group want to be entrepreneurs – or what we used to know here in Godzone Aotearoa NZ as “self employed”.

#6. Plugged in. Technology is in their DNA. 90.6% of GenZ say that a company’s technological sophistication would impact their decision to work there.

Self-Reliant

#7. Self-reliant. Even though 77% say personal relationships with co-workers are important, many prefer to learn at their own pace.

How to work with Zoomers in your veterinary clinic

1. Encourage face-to-face communication

Growing up with technology means GenZ are continually connected to their friends and peers online. But this hasn’t diminished their desire for face to face communication.  Remember, Stillman’s research found 84% of GenZ prefer face to face communications with their boss.

While GenZ may be more independent and entrepreneurial than previous generations, studies show they also enjoy collaborating with co-workers. However, in saying that, the way a Gen Z regards collaboration is different to a Millennial.  Gen Zs like to get on with the job and achieve results whereas millennials about all about everyone being involved. 

You know the open-plan offices that are all the rage?  Well, they’re the brainchild of millennials who want everyone involved – Millennials are the generation where everyone gets a medal for being involved and included.  Zoomers are competitive and prefer to work in their own space and get on with the job.

2. Nurture talent and encourage growth and learning

Studies show this group will seek guidance, direction and support.

Employers that help them progress and acquire new skills will build loyalty.

Indicators show Zoomers aren’t afraid of hard work — some are calling them self-motivated go-getters.

Gen Z thrive in workplaces where the culture supports their growth and development but gives them the freedom to do things their way.

3. Provide a tech-centred workplace

Remember, these are the guys and gals who only know digital.  This means that when you’ve grown up with technology all around you all your life, you expect it to be good.

This is the generation that’ll be attracted to the clinics with the latest, brightest and most sophisticated clinical toys.  

New toys, and staying current with tech, will impact a Zoomer’s decision to stay working for your clinic.  Or not.

This means that if you want to attract bright young up-and-comers, you’ll need to give them the necessary high-tech tools.

4. Offer work flexibility

This generation wants to make a difference at work and in the world in general.

They’re competitive – remember, they’ve witnessed the recession of 9/11, the global financial crisis and now the recession we’re in today – they’re not the Entitleds like everyone seems to think they are.  They believe in working smart, not hard.

They’re also self-reliant and socially responsible, willing to put in the time and effort to make big things happen.

Just because that’s the way something has always been, doesn’t mean that’s how it always must continue.  Zoomers don’t believe in working 9-5 just because it’s always been done that way.  They’re into working smarter, not harder. 

Zoomers have little patience for wasting time – remember, there’s an app for ‘that’ – whatever ‘that’ is.

Maybe this means more job-sharing positions so that Zoomers can have the work life blend that gets the best out of them.

So what do you need to do to hire, develop and inspire Zoomers in your clinic?

Attitudes of Generation Z in the Workplace – Research

New research from “The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporatedexamining the attitudes of Generation Z in the workplace, reveals how employers worldwide can most effectively attract, develop, motivate, and retain talent within the next next-generation workforce.

The new report, How to Be an Employer of Choice for Gen Z, uncovers the motivations and aspirations of today’s youngest working generation, including those yet to officially enter the workforce.

A survey of 3,400 Zoomers across Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. finds that:

  • money still talks,
  • good managers matter more than ever,
  • work needs to be interesting; and,
  • while schedule stability is important, flexibility is non-negotiable.

How exactly do you make your clinic attractive to, and Zoomer friendly?

Harness the Digital Natives

Like it’s become for many of us, mobile social media use is second nature for Gen Z, so you need to leverage this screen time with breakthrough advertising and opportunities. 

Notice I say “mobile” social media.  This means the smartphone is where it’s happening for Zoomers.  Not desktop – which is so old fashioned, or laptop – a little bit less old fashioned but not as much as the desktop. 

If your website isn’t mobile responsive – and today, there’s no excuse for that – you’ll have lost this cohort before you even start.

The best time to reach this group isn’t necessarily when they are actively looking for work, but passively while they’re surfing the social media channels.   This is where your social media marketing comes into play.  

Tip the balance in their favour

Many Zoomer employees crave opportunities that are progressive and unique.

This cohort values the BLEND of work + life + social opportunities in a way we haven’t experienced before.  They don’t necessarily clock off at 6pm when your clinic closes.  

That doesn’t mean to say they’re available to work beyond those hours but, for them, there’s no distinct line of working / not working as you and I know it. 

Because everything is so blended in their lives, they’re likely to have a side hustle – what you and I know as ‘moonlighting’ which they could be working on while they’re at work in your clinic.  

If you think that’s an imposition, just take a deep breath because it’s likely they’ll be doing your work (if that’s possible) while they’re eating their dinner or binging on Netflix. 

Everything is blended.

And talking of having side hustles – that non-compete clause in your Employment Agreements – make sure it’s ironclad.   If you haven’t revisited it lately, now’s the time to do that.

Talking about tipping the balance in a Zoomer’s favour – a report by Accenture UK indicated that 62% of Zoomers would “choose a fun, positive and social atmosphere at work over salary.”

What might that look like?  It’s about working from home, having volunteer leave days or policies and offering part time work or job sharing.  When you can incorporate as many of these offerings into your clinic’s positions, you’re more likely to attract and retain a Zoomer.     

Satisfy their hunger

Zoomers crave opportunities to advance + learning and development opportunities.

This means that, if you can, promote from within.

If you’re a multi-clinic group, offer opportunities for secondment or transfer to different clinics.  Yes, doing this creates a bit of disruption but that is better than a complete resignation. 

 Sell your workplace culture

Yes, Zoomers are interested in the dollar, but they’re also looking for a place to work where they can feel good about going to work.  They have idealistic values of their own so it makes sense for them to want to align with clinics that are similarly focussed.  

If you’re a socially responsible clinic, then shout it from the rooftops so that Zoomers get to hear about it.

The types of social responsibility Zoomers are into include climate change, mental health and inclusivity. 

And talking of inclusivity.  Zoomers only know inclusivity and they only see it when it’s absent.  

The other thing that Zoomers recognise is authenticity:  if you’re all bluff and puff they’ll see through you pretty quickly.   You really do have to walk the talk if you don’t want to be called out over it, or have high churn – which is expensive.

Listen to what they need

Unlike their predecessors, many Generation Z employees value experience and culture over set career paths.  This puts the pressure on hirers to make positions attractive.

Mundane aspects of traditional roles are becoming less appealing which means you need to consider how you can change positions to merge other responsibilities and utilise other skills-sets. 

Many Zoomer employees won’t settle for a one-size-fits all approach – they want a personalised experience rather than a scattergun attitude. 

An example of this can be personalising your email or text message with some kind of personalised message relevant to them.  

Zoomers aren’t afraid to ask questions or seek guidance.   Which means your clinic needs to be prepared for this.  You need to see this as a positive thing – what can you learn – rather than as a criticism or complaint.

Modify your perspective

As a general rule of thumb, Generation Z don’t see the point wasting time in the office doing ‘busy work’ but they do give a lot in return. 

Remember I said that Zoomers are into work life blending?  This means they’re usually prepared to work on weekends and in the evenings.  Most would also relocate to another city for the right job offer.

I’ve been noticing the preparedness to relocate for the right job a lot myself this year – especially the first job. 

A side effect of this is that you could have a reasonably high proportion of out-of-towners working for you.  Keep this in mind that they don’t know the place like you do, so it’s important you help them integrate.

Zoomers are looking for a personalised experience that hits the right note between salary, work-life balance, learning and development opportunities and career development.

I know – that’s a big ask! 

Let’s get down to some nitty gritty – to attract high quality staff you need to reward them appropriately for their skills, expertise and value.    Remember – they’re motivated by the dollar.

NZVA Salary Survey 2021

Talking about the dollar – as an aside, and purely FYI, the Veterinary Business Branch of the NZVA is about to conduct a New Zealand veterinary sector salary review.  It’s being undertaken by a third party – called BBVet – it’s Pay to Play and there’ll be three separate surveys:

  • Wage and Salary Survey – in June 2021
  • Fees Survey – that’s TBC – indicating to be September / October this year
  • Profit and Expenses survey – end of 2021.

There are two pricing options monthly or pay as you go.  It’s either $59pm for members, $89 for non-members of one clinic, or the wage and salary survey is $260 for members and $390 for non-members.  Again, for one clinic – if you’re a multi-clinic set up you get a discount. 

Because the research is being done by an offshore company based in the Baltic Sea Region of Europe, there’s no GST payable.

The wage and salary survey started on the first of June and finishes on the 30th.    So if you’re interested in participating in this take action by contacting the Vet Association ASAP.   

Access to the results is only provided to those clinics that participate.   

It’s starting to happen already, but there are still many clinics here in Godzone that are going to have to up their game when it comes to pay rates and packages.

Kronos research … continued…

Money talks

Because money talks for the Zoomer generation: More than half of Zoomers worldwide (54 percent)— say pay is the most important consideration when applying for their first full-time job.

Money becomes increasingly important the older the Zoomer is:  57 percent of 22- to 25-year-olds agree that nothing outweighs pay, compared to 49 percent of the 21-and-under cohort.

Flexibility and Stability

Flexible-yet-stable schedules are a must: One in five Zoomers say they want a consistent and predictable schedule (21 percent) yet also expect employers to offer flexibility (23 percent).

Meaningful perks

Further – not all benefits are equal: Employee perks like free snacks, happy hours, and gym reimbursements are enticing, but traditional benefits like healthcare insurance, an attractive retirement plan and life insurance, are preferred by a 2-1 ratio of Zoomers, regardless of age or stage of life.

So – let’s say you’ve written the perfect situations vacant ad – you’ve paid for it to be advertised – how do you make sure you don’t waste those dollars when attracting Zoomers?

Gen-Z Red flags about an employer

Here are some red flags for Zoomer candidates when it comes to working at your clinic:

  • A delayed response from people like me – agencies – or HR or Practice Managers – is a major turn-off.   If it takes you days to reply, you’ve already lost points you need to make up.
  • Negative employee reviews online – remember I talked about this and quite a few of the upcoming red flags, in episode 19.
  • Application portals that aren’t mobile-friendly.
  • Workplaces that have a “dated” feel.
  • Negative customer experiences with an organization would deter them from even applying to work there – this includes themselves and/or their friends.  Interestingly, I lost one amazing candidate because she thought I’d been hard done by a clinic.  In this case, I was led to believe I was the only person recruiting for the position – so I was surprised when I heard my candidate – whom I thought was the front runner – was up against two other candidates.  She withdrew her application because she didn’t like the integrity of the clinic and believed how they treated me was how they treated their customers, of which she wanted no part of.  Wow!   I admired her integrity – I really did, but given the clinic also thought she was the front runner as well, losing that appointment hurt.

How to keep and/or attract Gen-Z to your veterinary clinic

When it comes to keeping and/or attracting Gen Z – here’s what’s important to them:

  1. Help them advance: One in 5 Zoomers say training and development is the top employee benefit
  2. Bring out the best in Gen Z: To get their best work, Zoomers say they need direct and constructive performance feedback (50 percent), hands-on training (44 percent), managers who listen and value their opinions (44 percent), and freedom to work independently (39 percent).
  3. With advancement on their minds, Zoomers are looking for leaders to help them chart a path to promotion: One in four expect managers to clearly define goals and expectations (26 percent) and say regular check-ins during their first month makes for an ideal onboarding experience (25 percent).
  4. Empowering leaders to meet these baseline expectations is critically linked to retention: Nearly 1 in 3 Zoomers worldwide (32 percent) would stay longer at a company if they have a supportive manager, while respondents in Australia/New Zealand (51 percent), Canada (49%), and the U.K. (45 percent) would “never” tolerate an unsupportive manager.
  5. Motivate with meaning: Money talks, but doing enjoyable work is just as important
  6. Engage and reward: 1 in 3 Gen Zers say they perform best when working on projects they care about (37 percent) and when they are rewarded for a job well done (32 percent)—but make it a cash bonus, says 43 percent of Gen Zers.
  7. Forming connections at work inspires Gen Z: Strong relationships with their teams will motivate nearly 2 in 5 Gen Zers (36 percent), especially part-time employees (40 percent).

A stressful work environment will do the opposite: Nearly half (48 percent) say stress at work would directly impact performance, and 1 in 3 (33 percent) would “never” tolerate a dysfunctional team.

Financial insecurity—ie, the fear of being broke—motives Gen Z to enter the workforce, most prominently in the UK (63 percent), US (57 percent), Australia/New Zealand (56 percent), France (55 percent), and Canada (52 percent).

And make sure your payroll system and processes work – Zoomers have very little tolerance for payroll errors. 

If you want to be an employer of choice for Gen Z, remunerate them fairly, ensure that they genuinely care about the job you’re hiring them for and provide them with the necessary training and flexibility so they can succeed without sacrificing their personal lives. 

Managers who’re supportive of Zoomers’ needs, mentor them, and allow them to bring their full selves into the workplace will hold onto their Zoomer team members longer and inspire them to do their best work.

People – mostly – don’t leave an organisation because of the company, they leave because of their manager. 

As has been mentioned in a few previous podcasts, you don’t have to offer the best rates of pay, but you do need to offer them the best place to work.

What does a great veterinary clinic look like in New Zealand?

If you’re unsure what being the best employer might look like – check out episodes 23, 28, 29 and 30 – the guests in those shows are all veterinarians who know what they’re talking about.

Episode 23 – Dr Alejandra Arbe-Montoya – Veterinarian Moral Distress, Moral Conflict & Conscientious Objection

Episode 28 – Dr Francesca Brown – is it possible for NZ veterinary clinics to have a healthy bottom line and healthy staff?

Episode 29 – Dr Francesca Brown | part 2 of 2 – is it possible for NZ veterinary clinics to have a healthy bottom line and healthy staff?

Episode 30 – Dr Megan Alderson – her trials and tribulations in building a healthy and mentally well veterinary team

I hope you’ve found this helpful – if you’ve got any questions or thoughts about today’s topic I’d love to hear them.

Remember to click the FOLLOW button wherever you listen to your podcasts – it’s free and it means you’ll never miss out on upcoming shows because they’ll be delivered straight to your feed.

And check in again next week – the topic:  will your next new hire MESS or MESH with your existing team – I’ll share some candidate interview questions you can ask to help you avoid making a bad hiring decision.

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