PMPs must prepare for the rise of Gen Z

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April 29, 2024

Scarlett Nolen

Scarlett Nolen

During a recent leadership meeting, my team discussed the importance of adapting leadership styles and customer communication approaches to the newest generation in the workforce, Generation Z. The group is defined as those born between 1997 (some sources use 1995) and 2012. They are younger than millennials and older than Generation Alpha.

As an “elder millennial” myself, I recall my generation being branded with some pretty unfavorable characteristics. However, somehow we millennials made it work, turned our weaknesses into strengths and evolved the business world with our openness to technology, noted empathy, and desire for work-life balance.

In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workforce, the pest control industry faces both opportunities and challenges with the emergence of Gen Z. This group brings a unique set of skills, preferences and values to the table. As this generation begins to enter the pest control industry in greater numbers, both employers and employees must adapt to leverage the opportunities and address the challenges ahead, just as we adapted when millennials joined.

To get into the mindset of just how to adapt to Gen Z, my research led me to ChatGPT. While this is a tool that some generations might view with trepidation, a means to a shortcut, or a fallacy producer, Gen Z’ers might view as just another screwdriver in their tool belt. In fact, the following portion of this blog was written in collaboration with ChatGPT.

Opportunities:

  1. Technological Proficiency:

Gen Z individuals are digital natives, comfortable with technology and quick to adapt to new tools and platforms. In the pest control industry, this proficiency can be harnessed to streamline operations, implement digital pest management solutions, and enhance customer service through online communication channels and mobile apps.

  1. Sustainability and Environmental Awareness:

With a heightened awareness of environmental issues, Gen Z is well-positioned to embrace sustainable pest control practices. This includes the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) techniques, eco-friendly pest control products, and a commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of pest management operations.

  1. Innovation and Entrepreneurship:

Many members of Gen Z possess an entrepreneurial spirit and a drive to innovate. In the pest control industry, this can lead to the development of novel pest control methods, the creation of new business models, and the exploration of alternative revenue streams such as eco-tourism or educational outreach programs focused on pest awareness and prevention.

  1. Work-Life Balance and Flexibility:

Gen Z values work-life balance and flexibility, seeking employers who offer remote work options, flexible schedules and opportunities for personal and professional development. In the pest control industry, companies that prioritize employee well-being and provide a supportive work environment will attract and retain top Gen Z talent.

Challenges:

  1. Industry Perception:

The pest control industry is often perceived as traditional and unglamorous, which may deter Gen Z individuals from considering it as a viable career path. To attract younger talent, the industry must work to rebrand itself as dynamic, innovative and essential to public health and environmental conservation efforts.

  1. Technical Skills and Training:

While Gen Z is tech-savvy, they may lack the physical technical skills, communication skills and knowledge relevant to the pest control industry. Employers must invest in comprehensive training programs to ensure that new hires are equipped with the necessary expertise in pest biology, control methods, safety protocols, and regulatory compliance.

  1. Career Advancement:

The pest control industry, like many others, is undergoing rapid technological advancements and evolving market dynamics. A path to upward mobility and growth is critical to Gen Z. Employers must provide opportunities for continuous learning, career development, and upward mobility to engage and retain Gen Z talent.

  1. Communication and Customer Interaction:

Gen Z’s communication preferences, which often prioritize digital channels over traditional face-to-face interactions, may pose challenges in a customer-facing industry like pest control. Companies must strike a balance between leveraging digital communication tools and maintaining personalized, empathetic customer service to meet the diverse needs of their clientele.

In conclusion, after I analyzed the opportunities and challenges carefully, ChatGPT was consistent with my research and discussion. Therefore, I believe as Gen Z becomes an increasingly significant presence in the pest control industry, stakeholders must proactively adapt to capitalize on the opportunities and address the challenges presented by this demographic shift. By embracing technology, sustainability, innovation and flexibility, pest control companies will not only attract and retain top Gen Z talent, but also drive positive change within the industry. Through collaboration, education and a commitment to continuous improvement, the pest control industry can thrive in the digital age — while also fulfilling its mission to protect public health and safeguard the environment.

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About the Author

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Scarlett Nolen was promoted to president of Truly Nolen of America in March 2019. Nolen has worked for the company since 2012 in multiple roles. Most recently, Nolen was the district manager for the “Growth District,” a district of new service offices throughout Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Prior to joining the company, Nolen graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree in Experimental Psychology and Summa Cum Laude from the University of Central Florida with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

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