Generation Z: Our future workforce

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The rise of Generation Z is imminent, they are starting to enter and take over the workforce. Gen Z are those born between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. Often described as “true digital natives”, this generation has grown up in a world with technology at their fingertips.

Gen Z are known to have common personality traits such as being confident, having the desire to succeed, thriving on recognition, being adaptable and tech-savvy. However, the most valuable aspect of this generation is that they represent an organisation’s future. Fast forward 10 years from now – the baby boomers will be retired, and employers will have no choice but to recruit an increasing number of Gen Z employees, who will eventually play a leadership role in their organisation.

Gen Z members are currently young, and perhaps not a priority when it comes to recruitment planning. However, it is crucial that employers learn to understand this generation and how to attract, recruit and retain them in order to avoid losing valuable staff members and incurring unnecessary turnover costs in the future. After all, they are our future workforce.

If Gen Z members are not being challenged, recognised or rewarded for their efforts, their loyalty may come into question as they start to search for the next best opportunity elsewhere. Today, it is becoming more common for employees to change jobs after spending just a few years or even months with their current employer. It is clear that the fierce, unparalleled loyalty that was once displayed by previous generations will not be as prevalent in the future.

Being adaptable and tech savvy also means that Gen Z employees will demand remote working and flexible working. Since flexible working is already becoming a norm for most organisations due to the popular demand of work-life balance, it will only become a standard treatment as opposed to a special treatment to this new generation. Consequently, the traditional 9-5 office job will just not adequately support the lives of Gen Z. They are flexible work natives.

To attract Gen Z into their organisations, employers need to know that the new approach to job searching varies significantly from the traditional methods. Many Gen Z members begin their job searches on the company websites themselves – wanting the company’s culture to impress them.

Gen Z employees could learn more about a company on YouTube, followed by Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and the likes. Organisations need to get creative with these different social platforms and use them to reach out to potential Gen Z candidates and, additionally, allow existing Gen Z employees to play a part in the recruitment process.

Organisations also need to eliminate numerous hurdles that prospective young employees may have to face, where often psychometric testing, essay writing, and even case studies are required before the candidate even gets an opportunity to interview.

An absence of face-to-face communication can make these candidates feel like just a number. Understandably, this lack of personalisation or human interaction does not always lead to feelings of loyalty.

These extensive recruitment processes can also dissuade Gen Z workers from applying altogether, meaning that employers do not actually attract all the talent they want in the first place. To combat this, organisations should prioritise what aspects of recruitment are the most important and attempt to eliminate unnecessary processes in between. This is also a way to embrace and respect these younger employees.

Wellbeing and self-care can mean very different things to different people, and it is important that we enable each individual to make their own choices based on their needs. Employers may consider tailoring their current reward schemes in order to better retain this generation that thrives on recognition. For example, each employee can have a choice of how they wish to spend an annual predetermined amount of money that they are entitled to; whether it is a gym membership, regular massage or fuel voucher for a road-trip away – the end goal is to enhance the wellbeing of the employees.

Perhaps other traditional reward systems such as long service leave seems totally out of reach for Gen Z employees. Organisations can implement long service leave that commences from three years of employment. Such a scheme could incentivise Gen Z employees to stay at a workplace for longer since it is much more attainable than the traditional 10 or so years of service.

In the competitive environment we are in today, there are various options available for employees to go elsewhere – whether it is overseas or a job with a competitor. It is crucial that Gen Z employees’ career development is prioritised to the same extent as the organisation’s overall success so they can see that they are not just a number to the organisation.

Employers should help the employees to branch out horizontally within the organisation, regularly challenge them and provide constructive feedback. They should also help employees to explore new ways to apply their skillsets and look for opportunities together. With new experiences and new problems to solve, a natural desire to stay and advance within the organisation arises.

Ultimately, whether an organisation can tailor their recruitment plan for Gen Z employees will depend on its individual circumstances. Nonetheless, it is important for employers to understand this generation and how to best attract, recruit and retain them in order to ensure the longevity and success of the future workforce and therefore, success of the business.

The comments in this article of a general nature and should not be relied on for specific cases. Taxpayers should seek specific advice.

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Lee Billington