HubSpot EMEA director of engineering, Barbara McCarthy, says Generation Z promises to be vastly different. To hire them, you need to appeal to their passions and values.
They are passionate, they are fiery, they are idealistic and they are digital natives. And if employers don’t measure up, Generation Z will not work for them.
That’s the stark message that HubSpot’s EMEA director of engineering, Barbara McCarthy, had for Inspirefest 2019 about workers who do not only know their worth but are going to be far more numerous and influential than their millennial predecessors.
‘They’re a different type of generation. They’re fiery, they’re determined and they want to pursue their passions’
– BARBARA MCCARTHY
It is said that Generation Z, mostly born after the mid-1990s, will account for 40pc of consumers in the US by 2020.
A different type of generation
“We know more about them than we did about millennials when they entered the workforce. It’s time to start building companies and cultures within companies that they want to work for right now,” urged McCarthy.
Generation Z workers have a huge interest and aspiration to work in tech, and they are beginning to come into the workforce in their droves, just as competition to hire them increases.
“Unlike their predecessors, the traditional career values don’t really resonate with them. They’re a different type of generation. They’re fiery, they’re determined and they want to pursue their passions.”
They have never known a world without the internet, said McCarthy. “They’ve never known a world where information wasn’t at their fingertips 24/7.”
Not only that, but 40pc of Generation Z is connected to the internet for more than 10 hours a day and this access of technology will be expected in the workplace.
McCarthy gave the example of a recruitment firm called TextRecruit, which has already honed its methodology to appeal to a new generation that automatically sifts through information noise at lightning speed.
Generation Z, she explained, has developed an eight-second gauge or filter to determine if something is interesting or not.
“One of the things we learned at HubSpot is that we used to do a lot of classroom-based learning and that doesn’t appeal to them at all. If you want to learn how to code or change a tyre in a car or how to get those amazing GHD curls, you actually go to YouTube. This is the type of learning that appeals to them.”
Diversity is in their DNA
McCarthy also explained that for Generation Z, diversity is very important. “It is estimated that by 2020, 50pc of all kids in the US will come from an ethnic or minority group. So, diversity in the traditional sense of the word is actually going to become the norm.
“So that means that they really, really, value diversity, belonging and inclusion within companies, and they want to see that companies actually value it.”
This means diversity has to be baked into the operating system or the DNA of the company, and not some side thing or form of virtue signalling. “So, whether it’s events or whether it’s employee resource groups, companies have to show that it is as important to them as it is to the candidates that they are trying to recruit.”
Generation Z is also highly entrepreneurial and employers will be challenged to appeal to the future founder within these workers.
“72pc of second-level students say that they want to start their own business and 61pc of college students would prefer to be entrepreneurs rather than employees. How should we think of that from a company perspective as employers? We should lean into that and actually encourage it and embrace it. Give them the autonomy and challenge to think like a CEO.”
McCarthy said that at HubSpot, engineers follow a set of principles or a shared belief system that enables them to take ownership of problem-solving.
“They take responsibility and ownership like nothing I’ve ever seen because they own the problem definition, they own the requirements, the solution and actually how they work. So, they really, really take ownership and feel, I suppose, passion about the work that they’re doing.”
As McCarthy pointed out, those in Generation Z are a passionate lot who have the courage of their convictions. She pointed to 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who, at age 15, began protesting outside the Swedish parliament about the need for immediate action to combat climate change and has since become an outspoken climate activist.
“She started what I would call a global movement among students around climate. So this is what motivates her. We have to allow the next generation to bring those passions into work because we know that if somebody is allowed to be motivated by passion, they’re going to have a huge sense of pride in what they do. In order to generate pride, you have to have a higher organisational purpose.”
HubSpot recognised this early in the company’s history by codifying its culture.
“It’s about how we treat each other, how we treat our customers, how we deal with failure. All the things that are important to you and what you stand for as a company, write them down.”
Generation Z will value professional and personal development. Also, in terms of an increased focus on anxiety levels, McCarthy said companies will need to be able to able to support their employees on not just their physical wellbeing, but their mental wellbeing as well. “Companies need to talk about mental health more openly.”
Generation Z, McCarthy concluded, is a determined, fiery and dedicated generation. “They’re going to outnumber all the previous generation. They’re going to be really dedicated to hard work and their careers. But we need to remember that 60pc of the jobs in 2034, they don’t even exist yet.
“So, the way we think about recruitment and building effective teams, all that has to change. And it has to change with this next generation, Generation Z.”