In the mid 2000’s, as broadband and smartphones were changing the way we live and work, IT leaders faced the challenge of tech savvy millennials using their own faster running devices and spurning the clunky laptops and mobiles that were standard company issue.
IT departments were scrambling to keep up, as information was shared via insecure routes and employees found work-arounds to counter the processes and kit that slowed them down. The cannier IT departments recognised the opportunity and by 2009 bring your own device (BYOD) had begun.
Millennials are reaching 40…
Millennials stirred up the culture around IT and plenty more besides. Various research projects by the likes of Ipsos and KPMG have found that this first generation of digital natives want purpose-driven work, flatter organisational structures, life-long learning, recognition for their input and a good work life balance. All familiar enough territory, as the early Milliennials now reach 40.
Having evolved to meet Millennials’ work place expectations, now that we’re in the third year or so of Gen Z’ers graduating and entering the workforce, what then, are their expectations of the organisations they work for?
Who are Gen Z?
Before considering those, a quick reminder about the markers of Gen Z. Born since 1997, they are the first generation to come into a world with the internet and social media. They are much more racially diverse, and comfortable mixing with other cultures. And they care greatly about advocating for social change.
According to the Pew Research Center, a US polling organisation, about 70% of Gen Z’ers believe that the government should be more active in addressing problems. And if the government doesn’t move fast enough, they take action themselves, inspired by fellow Gen Z’ers Malala Yousef and Greta Thunberg.
Like Millennials, Gen Z’ers value education and want immersive, experiential learning that they can self-manage. They also expect to work hard – a World Economic Forum (WEF) study found that 77 per cent of this generation expects to work harder than previous generations
A Deloitte survey in June this year found that 39% of Gen Z’ers have already made choices about the organisations they’re willing to work for based on their personal beliefs and ethics over the past two years.
What does this mean for your business?
With all of this in mind, the following captures some steers (tips? findings?) from People Management and Deloitte on what organisations need to bear in mind if they want to attract and retain Gen Z talent:
Wellbeing is hugely important
Health and wellness initiatives are huge deciding factors in their choice of workplace for Gen Z’ers who feel more comfortable discussing their mental health than previous generations.
A survey by Peldon Rose found three-quarters (76 per cent) of Gen Z said it is vital for their employer to promote and appreciate their wellbeing. Keeping a focus on outcomes rather than (long) hours worked and allowing your employees to manage their work how they want to, will provide the real-world proof that your organisation genuinely values wellbeing.
Diversity, equity and inclusion
Diversity, equity and inclusion are most likely already top priorities for your organisation, and the evidence is clear that they need to be. Gen Z cares about racial equality, with the World Economic Forum (WEF) finding that 72 per cent say it is the most critical issue today. One study by Deloitte found that almost two-thirds of Gen Z’ers and Millennials believed leaders only pay “lip service” to diversity and inclusion. As they highly value individual expression diversity is also about more than race.
Professional, academic and personal success is core to Gen Z’ers’ identity, more so than for previous generations. Learning and development is therefore hugely significant for them. This means that it’s more important than ever that the classic issue of managers postponing development conversations because they’re too busy with other deadlines, is avoided with Gen Z. Growth and learning need to be prioritised.
Challenge and variety
These may be motivators for any generation, but particularly so for Gen Z’ers who have grown up with such a huge wealth of content at their fingertips. Giving them the opportunity to learn different aspects of your organisation will lower the likelihood of them becoming bored in a specific role, and will enable them to make a more informed decision about the work they most prefer. Deloitte suggest creating “latticed” career paths and multiple work formats, as well as setting up internal marketplaces to match projects with needed skill sets.
Stability and security
Gen Z’ers have grown up in tumultuous political and economic times, so on the whole they are more risk averse and pragmatic than Millennials who are notorious for their frequent job moves. There’s a greater need therefore to provide reassurance that, as long as they perform well, they don’t have to fear losing their jobs.
Gen Z’ers are self-sufficient – having so much knowledge at their disposal, they want to solve problems themselves and value the autonomy to take ownership of work. If some of your leaders still have a tendency to micro manage, this will clearly therefore be deeply unpopular with their youngest recruits.
These are, of course, big picture generalisations but ones which nonetheless can provide a steer on how you can create a working environment which will attract Gen Z’ers and help them to flourish once they join you. Just as those early Millennials brought their own devices to work, so they and the Gen Z’ers following them, bring their own culture.