Gen Z mainframe developers
October 25, 2016 Workforce

Millennials Are Here—Time to Prepare for Gen Z Mainframe Developers

The arrival of millennials kicked off the GUI-IDE era of mainframe development, but it was also a death knell for ISPF. Over the next few years, the arrival of Gen Z will be another nail in the ISPF coffin.

When it comes to mainframe development tools, we can expect Gen Z’s expectations to align with millennials’—after all, some of these kiddos are graduating college and starting careers in close succession to the generation above them. But as the younger Gen Z cohort comes of age, outdated tools like the green screen will appear even more remote than millennials perceived them to be.

The idea of ditching ISPF and other outdated tools still spooks some mainframe conventionalists who feel pressure from the digital age to change how they’ve done things for the last several decades. But the employment of Gen Z mainframe developers in coming years and the progressive phasing out of outdated tools in lieu of modern alternatives will be a material sign the mainframe has an established future in our digital world and will continue to adapt.

Aside from similar interests in intuitive, familiar development tools, Gen Z mainframe developers will arrive with their own generational idiosyncrasies, à la baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials before them. It’s the nature of the workplace, and mainframe shops should be prepared to adapt.

It might be better to just download Snapchat if you want to understand how Gen Z sees the world, but in the meantime, these are some of the major things your company should consider as it readies to hire Gen Z mainframe developers.

Gen Z Is Social Media Savvy

The rise of smartphones, along with a deluge of web- and mobile-based social platforms, transpired in the mid-to-late 2000s. As a result, Gen Z has grown up accustomed to these digital channels as normal modes of engagement.

These modes aren’t just ubiquitous in the social space. They also permeate the world of business. For example, Web services and cloud-based team communication tools like HipChat or Slack streamline internal communication, while tools like JIRA improve issue tracking, bug tracking and project management functions.

On one hand, companies need to adopt digital engagement tools like these because they’re expected to be in place by next-generation developers. Even embracing social media platforms like Twitter or Snapchat to build community engagement between employees, customers and potential customers is something your Gen Z mainframe developers will likely expect.

But more importantly, companies should adopt these tools because they represent the next wave of workplace efficiency. Gen Z mainframe developers use these engagement tools because they provide immediacy. You can avoid the time lag of email and simply chat with friends or colleagues in a digital space as if you’re having a conversation vis-à-vis.

These tools also enable more Agile collaboration and serve as means to preserving the multiple conversational histories between different teams while also keeping information current up to the second. If you implement these tools for your next-generation developers, others in your organization will follow.

Gen Z Shares Gen X Values

According to Small Business Trends, a new survey by EY shows that Gen Z values respect and ethical behavior more than any other characteristic employers offer, along with fair compensation.

Karyn Twaronite, EY Global Diversity and Inclusiveness Officer, noted that these desires contrast with those of millennials, “who prefer more flexibility over structure,” and that “Gen Z is actually exhibiting similar traits to their Gen X parents and boomer grandparents.”

For mainframe shops, the values Gen Z mainframe developers apparently share with Gen Xers, who have already assumed a large portion of leadership and will continue to do so, could make for easier interactions between younger and older coworkers than perhaps the interactions between millennials and baby boomers have been.

The potential for more camaraderie between the youngest and soon-to-be oldest generation of employees at mainframe shops—not to say millennials don’t get along with older colleagues—would be beneficial to the culture of a business in general. It also might help drive collaboration between generations that are more aligned in how they think the mainframe should move forward.

Gen Z Is Feedback Driven

According to an article on CNBC, members of Gen Z “insist on regular feedback instead of waiting for annual performance reviews.” This is advantageous for mainframe shops that have already embraced Agile and DevOps and are moving to more feedback-driven cultures modeled after how they do development.

An Agile culture thrives on continuous improvement and the nimble nature it fosters is enabled by a series of constant feedback loops. Coming of age in a culture dominated by social media that promotes real-time validation or criticism, your future Gen Z mainframe developers will be used to and expect regular feedback.

The benefit managers can expect to come out of Gen Z mainframe developers’ affinity for feedback is an innate drive for continuous improvement of themselves and, therefore, the company.

Mainframe shops that haven’t spent time modernizing their mainframe environments will find it difficult to recruit Gen Z mainframe developers. But with intuitive, familiar tools and Agile, feedback-driven development processes, mainframe shops can create a culture that lets next-generation mainframe developers thrive.