Gen Z willing to trade hard work for job security

By Jim Annis, CEO


Generation Z is a force to be reckoned with. They were born between 1994 and 2010 and — if you assume a college path — they began hitting the workplace last year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Gen Z makes up 25 percent of our population, outnumbering millennials and baby boomers. According to Robert Half, by 2020 Gen Z will comprise 20 percent of the workforce. So how do we ready the workforce for them? How do we ready them for the workforce?

Unlike their Gen Y predecessors, today’s Gen Z college students rated “opportunity for career growth” as the most important expectation of their first job (36 percent), followed by fulfilling work (19 percent) and stability (19 percent). Friendly work environments and schedules demanded by Gen Y are low on Gen Z’s priority list. It’s a back-to-basics approach. Anything you offer Gen Z employees to help reach important career goals (i.e., job shadowing, mentoring and continuing education) will be welcomed.

 These employees who grew up during the Great Recession want a job with good pay. Offer it to them through a career path for more security, which they feel the world does not have. After seeing their parents struggle after significant change in their lifestyle, they are skeptical about Social Security or anything else. They value order, structure, work ethic and a sense of predictability in their lives.

Get ready for a switch: Gen Z wants to have genuine conversations and connections with higher-ups because they have higher expectations of relationship with their bosses. Social media has a place, but it is not the preferred communication with you. On the other hand, reduced face-to-face with co-workers can cause conflicts at work. Think about how easy it is to “unfriend” when a conflict presents itself. Management and mentoring regarding conflict resolution and presenting options for open and honest verbal dialogue will be key to their peer-to-peer success. In terms of work environment and design, you can create “refuge” work spaces available for distraction-free time which can double as a quick casual meeting area for employee-manager coaching.

Gen Z mirrors their Gen X “parents” in that they are project-oriented and ready to run with whatever is given to them – with a twist. They prefer extensive feedback and input from supervisors and upper management; however, do not mistake this for the typical micromanagement needed for Gen Y. You’ll need to shift gears and let the reins go a bit to keep them engaged and loyal.

And what about loyalty and longevity? Keeping A-level talent is already tough with competition in the marketplace today. For human resources professionals and management doing strategic planning, the job-hopping of Gen Z will be a major barrier for retention. Eighty-three percent of today’s students believe that three years or less is the appropriate amount of time to spend at their first job. Over 27 percent of students believe staying at your first job for a year or less is preferred. Tactics to mitigate this tendency include effective and frequent training and professional development opportunities. The goal is to help Gen Z employees find a niche within the company to meet their security and advancement needs.

I know, I know. Just when you thought you had management of Gen Y somewhat under control, we’re now putting a spin on the ball as we pass it to you. Like anything, the only thing constant is change. We believe that like any generation, Gen Z’s positive contributions to the workplace will be significant. To quote one of my favorites, John Wooden: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” Embrace the best of Gen Z and manage the rest.

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied’s COO, contributed to this article.


Read original article in the Reno Gazette-Journal here.

Spring has sprung

Happy First Day of Spring!


TAC’s 2017 theme is centered around growth.

Growth for our clients, growth for our internal employees, and growth for the city of Reno and beyond!

That is why, we gave each TAC team member some gardening tools with the request to, “plant something and watch it grow,” in honor of the first day of spring.


Learn how TAC can help your company grow at

Customize your employee benefits package

By CEO Jim Annis

Gone are the days of “simple” easy-to-target advertising on three TV stations to broad segmented target markets. With thousands of cable channels, smartphones and online data, we now have microsegmentation. Microsegments aim to limit customers into very small segments — or even as individuals — which helps modern marketers determine exactly what the customer wants at every level. This has the pitfall of hyper-fragmentation. How do we reach everyone cost-effectively?

The human resources field faces similar challenges. Traditionally, there are four ways to reward people: compensation, benefits, recognition and appreciation. Individual employees used to be motivated by the standard “one size fits all” benefits plan. Now benefits are valued differently by everyone. To keep top talent in this competitive marketplace, benefits are becoming highly customized and microsegmented – even down to the individual reward level. For this hyper-segmentation, you need data and a system.

Keeping employees happy is essential to productivity. Here are some of the best company perks around. Buzz60

How to start

Start with a budget. If you have $25 per employee, begin there. If you have $2,000 per employee, great! That gives you lots of flexibility to customize. Next, gather data. Human resources can use online tools like SurveyMonkey to gather individual preferences. Simply ask the question, “What would you like to receive for a job well done?” Then determine what will trigger the reward system and set a date for implementation. Individualized reward examples include a season ski pass, a rescue puppy for the SPCA supporter, Tesla charging stations, concert tickets, a monogrammed hiking backpack or REI membership, a new MacBook, cooking classes, coffee of the month club, Blue Apron/healthy delivery option, Burning Man tickets or a membership at a yoga studio. FYI: Gift cards to a bar probably will be frowned upon by your risk manager (smile).

If you are not prepared yet to customize per employee, start with a division or department. Delineate an annual “fun” budget of $1,000. Allow each to decide how to spend it on some type of team activity which can be used wither at or away from the office. At The Applied Companies, our staffing division loves to have lunch brought in. Finance loves to go to Picasso and Wine after hours. We were surprised at the diversity of uses within our small group, which validates the power of choice.

The risks of rewards

Are you trying to reward your employees or simply “fix” something? You do not give a biscuit to dog doing bad behavior. Attracting and retaining talent must be your goal. Benefits will not prevent people from job-searching or leaving; however, they do provide a nicer environment while they are there. Depending on your work culture, there could be a perception of inequality. Favoritism could rear its ugly head and employees may think they are getting less than others. It’s human nature. Take the opportunity to talk. You can motivate the people who did not receive anything by offering it as an example. “This is how you can improve” can be the opener for next steps.

New version of us

These types of benefits strategies are typical of the new HR 3.0. As an industry, we are getting away from cookie-cutter systems like performance reviews, and going to more casual, individual and continuous dialogue. You must follow the laws and ensure compensation plans are still fair, equal and gender-neutral, but you can customize rewards. This level of detail may leave you wanting to run for the hills, but if you do not want to go the way of the dinosaurs, then keeping nimble, relevant and progressive are all ways to stay competitive in the talent war.

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied’s COO, contributed to this article.

As seen in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Will your career path take you to the top?

By Jim Annis, CEO


Succession planning is the cultivation of new leaders to replace old leaders. Today we’re writing it from the employee perspective. Why? Sometimes as employers we really do not know how to identify future leaders. Other times employees who could be leaders are screaming at us – in nonverbal ways – that they’re interested but we are too busy to notice. Employees, here are case studies demonstrating how to break through the noise and create a path to succession:

1. Robert has been a loyal employee of a local nonprofit for 20 years, moving from role to role with institutional knowledge above all others. The president (who came aboard three years ago and appears threatened by Brandon’s tenure), announced an outside search for an Executive Director. Brandon was crushed. He thought that his experience would put him next in line naturally; however, he realized that he had not overtly expressed desire to become executive director. He changed it up, first by taking a more active role at board meetings and networking to bring in several large donors. During his review, he asked the president about his vision for change. The president offered a few ideas. Brandon asked to champion the priority projects. In the meantime, a new executive director was hired, but left after only six months due to a family emergency. By that time, Brandon’s projects were successfully implemented, and the president brought forth Brandon’s name for the position, which was met favorably.

2. Calista is a supervisor and millennial who has combated the generation’s negative stereotypes. She has self-direction and knows several boomers retiring in three to five years. She began grooming herself for a leadership role. Calista has always been a detail person and accuracy accounting software gives her confidence. She identified the need for personal development in communications, leadership training and hands-on experience in managerial finance. She began to express curiosity to the CFO about the financials and asked if she could be involved in their preparation. During that experience, she opened a dialogue about suggestions for the budgeting processes which were adopted. Although it was not a requirement, she began the MBA program, understanding that the big picture would help her lead. She proactively scheduled a career path meeting with the CFO and the VP of HR to throw her hat in the ring for promotion. She will be considered as one of the three internal candidates in one year when they begin the transition process for the current CFO to become the new CEO.

3. Tom got the nod to be the CEO six months ago. He had been VP of sales for 15 years and seemed to be the natural choice of the current CEO who appreciated the company’s growth. Tom’s official start was a month ago. He has changed his mind. Tom loves the travel associated with his sales role, but the role of CEO requires physical location in the Bay Area. It was stifling. Although he realized he should have acted sooner, he enlisted the help of the HR department on a confidential basis. Though the EAP program, the company provided a personal professional coach and sports psychologist, as Tom was a former professional athlete. The coach took him through a personality test and assessments, then helped Tom identify areas of the CEO roles in which he needed support and resources. Tom avoided demotion to his VP role. Promotion followed by demotion typically does not work. He would need to leave soon after. Against the odds, Tom beat the Peter Principle (selection of a candidate for a position based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role), eventually embraced the CEO challenge and became a successful leader.

Employees are all in different situations and have different goals in their career path. Finding the next leader takes work from both the employee and the succession planner.


Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied’s COO, contributed to this article.

As seen in the Reno Gazette-Journal.