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Engaging With Gen Z

Thursday, 12 October 2017

With the generation born after 1995 now reaching adulthood and seeking employment, employers are facing new challenges with regard to the attraction and retention of young talent in the workplace. This generation, known as ‘Gen Z’, presents new issues to employers, due to their ambition and high expectations. Although these two characteristics may seem like positive traits for prospective employers, many are quick to point out that most Gen Zers are wanting to own their own business within 5 years. The implications of this are that very few Gen Z employees intend on growing with a business, but rather they view their employment as a stepping stone on the path to building their own business.

First of all, it is essential to understand the fundamental differences between Millennials (those reaching young adulthood around the year 2000) and Gen Zers. Perhaps the most obvious difference is that Gen Z have been raised in the age of technology, and therefore have a much more proactive and embedded relationship with technology than previous generations. This association also suggests that they are better at multi-tasking within the workplace. For example, they are able to create documents on their laptop while researching on their tablet and simultaneously chatting with colleagues on their phone. Secondly, the Gen Z population are much more likely to go straight into the workforce and skip out on University when compared to Millennials. One potential reason for this being that having a University degree no longer sets individuals apart as Degree qualifications are now a commonality. Therefore, to the bargain-savvy Gen Zer, they may seem like a wasted investment. Marketing strategists such as Deep Patel suggest that Gen Z acts much more entrepreneurially, a trait which could be attributed to their experience of the recession in 2008. These factors lead to the high expectations of Gen Z with regard to their work-life balance as well as how much they are valued by their employer. Finally, Gen Z is a much more global generation. 58% of adults worldwide believe that this generation has more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country.

So, what implications does this have on the workforce? During a seminar hosted by harri, a discussion panel touched upon the fact that in order to attract young talent, businesses must keep up to date with the latest technology and revolutionise their recruitment process. This could be done through apps such as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter etc. However, although one benefit of Gen Z is their technological fluency, one issue of the employment process is the dropout/no-show rate of this generation. Many older generations attribute this to device attachment and lack of social skill caused by device addiction. However, it would seem that perhaps the issue isn’t that Gen Z lack social skills, but that businesses are quick to attempt to attract candidates with high-tech and flashy techniques, and consequently overlook the importance of a personal touch. At the end of the day, Gen Z still appreciate being valued (maybe even more so than Millennials) and therefore it is much more likely for them to develop an attachment and commitment to an interview or job role if they feel personally engaged. Furthermore, less young people are wanting to attend University and see more benefit in continuing their education and growth through real-life experience and courses offered by employers. This raises the question of whether potential employers should be changing their criteria when screening candidates? Due to the entrepreneurial nature of Gen Z, it is likely that they will gain the same skills as those university educated but lack the official qualification. Meaning that employers may be missing out on exceptional young people because they lack a degree.

To conclude, although Gen Z are a technical generation- they do not want to feel like a cog in a machine. Whether you think their impact on the workforce will be a help or a hindrance the reality of the situation is that they will revolutionise the labour market. And while it is important to embrace this change and accommodate for it, it is equally important to maintain an element of personal connection in order to maintain interest and ensure that the Gen Z candidate feels valued.

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