Flipping the Narrative: What Gen Z Needs to Know Entering the Workforce
We’ve all heard quite a lot of buzz in recent years about what the workforce should know about incoming Gen Zers. While this is helpful for established professionals and companies at large, it leaves Gen Z young professionals with hardly any content geared towards helping them navigate an entirely new chapter of their lives. Not only are these individuals trying to learn how to work with a multigenerational workforce, but for many of them, this is also the first time they’ve seen HR paperwork, benefits packages, and had to get serious about managing their personal finances. According to Employee Benefits News, the majority of Gen Z employees feel confused about the benefits packages they are being offered and are seeking more personalized support and education on HR, benefits, and finance basics. So, let’s flip the narrative for a second—here are a few helpful tips for what Gen Z should know as they enter the workforce:
A Little Bit About Your Non-Gen Z Coworkers
As you enter the workforce, you’re likely to have colleagues in the Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer age groups. Each of these generations tend to have unique characteristics that may be helpful for Gen Z employees to keep in mind to most effectively collaborate in a multigenerational work environment. Here are a few quick reference facts about other generations that might be useful to know as you start your career:
- Just in case which generation name belongs to which age group was a bit confusing: As of 2022, Baby Boomers are currently between the ages of 58-75, Gen Xers are ages 42-57, and Millennials are in the age range of 26-41.
- Baby boomers are known for having a formidable work ethic, holding high expectations, and placing a high value on work over home life in comparison to younger generations.
- Gen Xers are known for being “cautious and conservative,” highly educated, independent, and for placing more importance on work-life balance than Boomers.
- Millennials tend to be highly idealistic, purpose-driven, thrive in collaborative environments, truly value corporate culture, and place the utmost importance on work-life balance compared to the above generations.
Demystifying HR and Benefits
HR paperwork and benefits packages can be extremely overwhelming– not only during the onboarding process, but any time there are annual enrollments or changes in personal circumstances that require revisiting these sorts of documents and conversations. “At my previous job, I remember going over benefits paperwork for hours upon hours just to get my bearings on terminology,” said Jordan Vansiclen, a colleague of mine here at S&A. This is something many young professionals experience, and oftentimes, it can be intimidating to even ask questions. However, when you remember that the whole reason HR exists is to help you, not confuse you, it can break down that mental barrier preventing you from asking the questions you truly need answers to. Don’t be afraid to reach out to coworkers with more years of experience either– after all, they were in your position at one point in time. Online resources can be useful as well, such as this article from The Muse, which has links to 11 fantastic articles that can help you get your bearings on HR and benefits basics.
Finance Basics for Gen Z
On top of managing new coworker relationships and learning all sorts of workplace logistics, for many Gen Zers, the start of a career is also the first time they are responsible for managing their own finances. Many young people are left in the dark when it comes to financial planning. Here are some basics of finance that might help get you started on the right foot:
- Building your credit: It’s surprising how many purchases require a credit score check. From renting an apartment to leasing a car, a good credit score can save you countless dollars and allow you to qualify for certain purchases or offers. Applying for the appropriate credit card, repaying existing loans on time, taking on installment loans, and requesting monthly expenses be added to your credit report are all ways to start establishing a solid credit score. For more detail, this Experian article lays out a variety of helpful tips.
- Budgeting: We’ve all heard of budgeting, but once you start a career and accrue more expenses in your adult life, budgeting becomes absolutely essential. Developing even a simple spreadsheet of your monthly expenses will allow you to prioritize and spend wisely. If you need a little help knowing where to start with creating a budget, here are some of Forbes’ top-rated budgeting apps.
- Investing: Building an investment portfolio from a young age can help set you up for financial success if done wisely. There is a spectrum of investment types and categories depending on your personal goals and the amount of risk you’re comfortable with (i.e., how much you’re willing to lose). The primary forms of investment are stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents. There are also funds, such as mutual funds, index funds, and more, that combine different types of investments. Bank of America has a great plain-language guide to investing that goes into great detail about all of these points and more.
Hopefully these points provide some much-needed content geared specifically towards helping the Gen Z demographic adjust to joining the workforce and a new chapter of life. Although many of these areas—multigenerational teams, HR and benefits logistics, and finance—can seem self-explanatory, it is easy to become overwhelmed with these facets of professional life, on top of managing a new job’s workload.