gen z

Working with Millennial and Gen Z Employees

They’re so lazy. They’re too young. They’re so entitled. Their faces are always staring at a screen. These are some of the common stereotypical and incorrect statements you will often hear when referring to the millennial and Gen Z generations.  While some of those statements can be true for any generation, it is important to know the many positive attributes of these two generations and why they are good for hiring. 

Before we get into why you should hire millennial and Gen Z employees, it is important to know that they are two VERY different generations and should not be put into the same category.  Both can and should be hired for different reasons to balance out your team. 

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should hire millennials and Gen Z at your center:

1. Both are tech-savvy.

According to the HiMama Parent Satisfaction Report, the average Canadian millennial spends around 11 hours per day looking at a screen. That’s a lot of time, but it is no surprise since they are the pioneers of the digital age. While millennials witnessed the innovations of technology, Gen Z was born into it. It is all they know. So, having both of these generations on your team will allow you to bring the program to a more professional and creative level than without them.

Since most parents enrolling their children are millennials, born between 1981-1995, it’s a “must” to have mostly everything digital when you can. For example, parents would prefer to receive photos throughout the day, digital copies of their reports, and pay online as opposed to writing a check or receiving a paper report.  Having millennial and Gen Z employees will not only allow for that, but they will also be the first to offer to create YouTube channels, Tik Toks, and other social media marketing strategies to increase your enrollment and keep enrolled families happy. 

If your center is still offering paper reports only and accepting checks or cash only, it is so important to consider changing that as soon as possible. According to HiMama, 85% of parents pay some type of bill online, so they will appreciate paying tuition in that way as well. The HiMama report also revealed that 76% of providers still only use paper reports, which shows how much we are lagging when it comes to lack of technology.  The inconvenience of that alone will be a reason for parents to find a more tech-savvy program elsewhere.

2. Both are motivated to make a difference. 

According to Glassdoor.com, while millennials are highly optimistic and team players, Gen Z employees are more pragmatic and independent. Millennials grew up during a time of prosperity and opportunity while Gen Z have grown up during a recession and now a pandemic. Since millennials are motivated by having purpose and for career goals, it is important to offer mentoring and coaching so they can improve on skills and feel like they have significance.

Assigning millennials to be mentors for younger employees will also give them a sense of meaning and purpose. Gen Z are definitely motivated by making money, but they also want to make a difference in others’ lives. Since the first five years of a child’s life are the most important for development, Gen Z and millennial workers will have more buy-in if they know that. They both do not want to just clock in and clock out. They would much rather work longer hours if they know it is making a difference.

3. Both are flexible in their job descriptions.

While the boomer generation and Generation X are a bit more rigid with “staying in their lane” and wanting to stick to their job descriptions as is, Millennials and Gen Z are more open to learning other roles and are willing to jump into other tasks even though they weren’t assigned to them. Gen Z employees are much more open to this since they would prefer to learn all of the levels of leadership. According to inc.com, “seventy-five percent of Generation Z would be interested in a situation in which they could have multiple roles within one place of employment. Growing up in fast times and coming of age in an on-demand culture, Millennials have little patience for stagnation, especially when it comes to their careers. Generation Z won’t want to miss out on any valuable experience and will want to flex their on-demand learning muscle by trying out various roles or projects (marketing, accounting, human resources, etc.) inside of the organization.”

Having this kind of flexibility is key in early childhood education. We are all team players and often have to switch classrooms, roles, activities, etc. at the drop of a hat. This will keep the millennial employee from feeling stagnant and will help the Gen Z employee feeling like they are learning all of the various roles. It is important, though, that both generations of employees are communicated with clearly and that they don’t feel like you are carelessly throwing them into different situations without a plan. Giving them a plan ahead of time and communicating with them along with way will make all the difference.

4. Both help balance out the team.

Since millennials prefer to work in clusters, groups, and teams, they will thrive when it comes to collaborating with other teachers, assistants, and even networking with other daycares. Gen Z employees, however, prefer to work individually and on their own terms, so they would thrive when given a project to work on with a deadline.  Millennials need to learn more about independence and Gen Z need to learn more about teamwork, so in a healthy environment, the leader can have both learn from each other and allow for both to thrive with a balance of the work environment. 

It is important to know that millennials prefer to receive a text or email while 74% of Gen Z employees prefer to receive information and communication face-to-face, according to roberthalf.com. The least ideal way to work or receive communication for Gen Z is by meeting off-site with virtual teams. They prefer to work in small groups or independently in the office. So, don’t assume that just because they’re young that they thrive with only talking through social media or chats. Face-to-face encounters are very important to them.

5. Both will show empathy and compassion to children.

According to HiMama’s Parent Satisfaction report, 59% of Millennials believe they are experiencing burnout — up from 53% before the pandemic. This means that they are definitely experiencing the need for kindness and generosity, and therefore will be more understanding and compassionate to students who are also needing extra love and support during these tough times. Since both Gen Z and millennials want to make a difference and take pride in their work, when they learn about child development and why empathy and compassion are so important for executive functioning skills later in life, they will gladly emulate that to make a better impact on their students.  

Both will want to know that working in early childhood is more than just childcare, so it’s going to be the director’s main goal to teach, coach, and prove to them how vital ECE is. Since most ECE parents are millennials themselves and according to HiMama, 73% of Millennials work more than 40 hours a week, and nearly ¼ work more than 50 hours, it is important that we offer empathy and compassion to parents as well. 

When hiring millennials and Gen Z, they will be able to relate more to parents nowadays since they are more like them than Gen X and Boomers. It is important, though, that we have well-balanced staff with multi-generations, mixed gender, and mixed races. The leader of the staff should not just hire what is familiar or comfortable, but instead, hire all types of generations so that there is a well-balanced team who can all bring something important to the table. Be sure that your Millennial and Gen Z employees are valued and properly coached so they feel like they have purpose and a future with the company. This will make all the difference.

Want even more insights into what matters most to parents? See what our survey of 500 parents found in our Childcare Parent Satisfaction Report!

Missy Knechel

Missy is a professor in the early childhood department at Eastern University and director of Victory Early Learning Academy, a childcare center that she started ten years ago. Prior to that, she taught Kindergarten and second grade for a total of 10 years. She has been married to her best friend, Jason, for 15 years, and together they have four beautiful children ages 5, 7, 9 and 11 in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time, Missy loves to bake, read historical fiction, sing karaoke and travel to Central America on short term missions.

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