Gen Z, the generation described to be “spoiled”, “lazy” and “unable to deal with hardship”, have begun to make their way into the workforce. It is without doubt that they will not only play an integral part within the workforce, but will soon dominate it in the near future. However, alongside the creative mindset and tech-savviness, Gen Z will also bring with them fresh ideas and perspectives about the world, as well as an innate sense of scepticism, being the generation that has been bombarded by information in the world of social media.
As a generation that has been shaped greatly by the global pandemic, they have not only developed a great sense of resilience, adaptability and humanity, but also new norms that came in the form of remote learning and working. As most Gen Z caught their first glimpse of the corporate world through a vastly different lens from the previous generations, their attitudes and expectations will also differ as they prepare to enter the workforce themselves. Hence, it is important for companies to understand what the Gen Z expect from their careers, and how to readily prepare for their arrival.
How can employers prepare for the arrival of this new generation of employees?
Technology defines who they are
Millennials may have grown up alongside the evolution of technology, but Gen Z is a generation that was born into the world of technology. Known as the natives of technology, Gen Z can pick up new techs or software almost instantly, have access to more information than anyone else, and absorb that information like a sponge. However, this also means that they are more accustomed to the use of technology than other generations and have a greater demand and higher standard for the technology that they use.
In order to build a suitable working environment for Gen Z, businesses need to place a greater emphasis on the use of technology within the workplace and develop a digital mindset. Creating a digital- and technology-oriented working environment will not only take advantage of the Gen Z’s ability to learn and operate complex technology to improve workplace efficiency, it will also serve to attract more of such young talents into the company and retain their interest within the business.
Career path customisation and work flexibility
As a generation that grew accustomed to remote learning and working amidst the pandemic, Gen Z has a greater demand for workplace flexibility. Nearly 75% of Gen Zs view workplace flexibility as a top employee benefit. Based on research conducted by RippleMatch, it was found that over 60% of early careers candidates prefer a 3-day work week, or no designated in-office requirement. Aside from being able to determine what to wear or when to go to office, Gen Z also demand more control over their career path. They want to be given options and decide for themselves which career path they want to head down. Gen Z also dislike routine tasks and prefer to be exposed to different tasks and roles. To this generation, it is more about exploration and defining who they are and what they can do, rather than to be tied down and be told what to do.
Hence, when attracting and retaining such talents, companies must ensure that they can offer at least some of the flexible workplace attributes Gen Z seek. It is also important to understand that flexibility is not just about these physical attributes, it is also about providing the autonomy needed by Gen Z, as they do not want to be stuck in the office doing the same tasks every day. If businesses want to bring out the full potentials of Gen Z, they will need to be given the necessary exposure and opportunities, while providing timely guidance to ensure that they generate the desired values for the company.
It is not always about the job
Aside from being able to do the work they want, Gen Z are also looking to do work that can impact the society, as they want to make a difference in the world. A case study by Staffbase showed that 84% of Gen Z workers want to do meaningful work for a company that they believe in. A Sparks & Honey study also revealed that 26% of 16- to 19-year-olds are keen to “make a difference” and “make an impact”.
However, employers need to be aware that corporate social responsibility (CSR) does not equate to making a difference in the eyes of the Gen Z. In order for them to feel that they can and are making a difference, the company’s culture need to align with the cause that they believe in. Employers must also provide the opportunities and channels for Gen Z to make a difference. This enables employees to feel that their contributions are authentic and provides them with the sense of purpose they desire.
Last but most importantly, welcome them with open arms
Very soon our workforce will be dominated by Gen Zs, and it is important for companies to prepare themselves for their arrival, as it does not only mean the introduction of new blood into the workplace, it may very well define the future of the workplace. Companies should not be afraid of the changes that Gen Zs will bring with them, but instead welcome them with open arms, as these changes may very well become the future norms of workplace culture.
Gen Z in the workplace: How business can prepare for recruiting a new generation
What Gen Z Looks for in the Workplace, and How to Provide It
For Gen Z, The Future of Work is Flexibility
Commentary: Why some older worker feel uneasy, even intimidated by Gen Z