America’s Biggest Companies Aren’t Ready For Gen Z

August 31, 2016, 4:51 PM UTC

America’s corporate giants have invested ample time and money into understanding their millennial employees, from hiring mentors to hosting dedicated training sessions.

But a recent survey by Monster (MWW) suggests they should focus instead on Gen Z. Those are the 15-to-20-year-olds who were basically born online, using Internet technology since birth. Monster called them “true digital natives,” and said they now outsize the millennial generation by a million.

“We’re seeing drastic differences between what drives employees in Gen Z compared to previous generations like millennials,” said Seth Matheson, director of Talent Fusion by Monster, in a statement.

While some millennials want perks like nap pods, free lunches, and fitness centers, 70% of Gen Z said they “must have” health insurance in their first job. Monster also found 63% of Gen Z wanted a competitive salary, and 61% wanted a “boss I respect.” Gen Z’s biggest motivator differs from millennials and boomers, too: Seventy percent said the reason for their 9-to-5 was money or pay compared with 63% across all working generations.

So corporations that have already spent millions on millennials may need to regroup and plan out new strategies, or else get stuck playing catch-up.

BNY-Mellon’s CEO Gerald Hassell, for example, hired a 31-year-old “reverse mentor” to help him understand millennials, while some companies are paying up to $20,000 an hour to wrap their heads around that generation of workers, according to the Wall Street Journal. And leaders at Goldman Sachs (GS) reportedly frequent the popular “Managing Millennials” training sessions.

Recruiters should also take note as Gen Z begins to enter the workforce, and become more informal and more digital, according to recommendations Monster sent out to employers. To attract the best talent, companies will have to go where Gen Z does—Snapchat and Instagram. And the more emojis they use, the better.

“With Gen Z’ers, employers have about eight seconds to get their attention,” Monster said. “They’ve grown up using emojis and acronyms instead of full sentences, resulting in a new language that makes the greatest business invention of the 20th century—email—passé.”

That means future job listings could feature images, pictures, and videos.

But that could also be a slippery slope for companies. In July, a Microsoft recruiter tried to “speak the language” of millennials, saying there would be “hella noms” and “lots of dranks” in an email titled “Hey Bae Intern! <3.” It wasn’t long before the email was shared on Twitter, where users took jabs at the company’s cringe-worthy message. The upside is that Microsoft’s misstep serves as a reminder of what not to do when trying to connect with younger employees.

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