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Insight
CUSTOMER Story

How to get your workplace ready for Generation Z

August 1, 2022

We’ve all heard that the world of work is changing.  And for good reason.  But the reason is often hard to identify or define. The Covid pandemic has certainly contributed to many of the changes we’re now seeing in terms of flexible working, the rising cost of living is influencing reward packages, and the rise in house prices is transforming the way young people view their futures.

But we believe there’s another major influencer – the rise of Generation Z or zoomers as they are colloquially known.  Whilst the Millennial generation were described as digital pioneers, Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, are considered digital natives.  Most Gen Zers have grown up with phones, tablets and portable technology as a fundamental part of their lives from the very outset.   Last year, YouGov estimated that 55% of Gen Zers use their phones for more than 5 hours daily.  This undoubtedly transforms how they view the role of technology, at home and at work.

They are also considered to be the most diverse generation.  With data on ethnicity still pending from the2021 census, a look at the 2011 UK census shows that the percentage of Asian, black and mixed heritage children aged 0-14combined is greater than any other age range. In the US, almost half of all GenZers belong to a minority group.  This means diversity and inclusion is very much on the agenda for this generation.

Thanks to social media and increased global connectivity, as a generation, they are typically more aware of current events and political and social causes.  They are a quietly confident generation that has strong values.  That’s not to say previous generations haven’t had strong values, but the values themselves have changed over the years.  Those in the older brackets will be familiar with the feeling of concern that may arise when a potential candidate for a new role shows several different companies in as many years.  Where previously you would likely stay with a company for 10-15 years or more, this today is so much rarer, and recruiters simply can’t afford to reject candidates that have moved around.  It can instead be a sign of ambition or strength of character that reflects the candidate’s desire to work for a company that “gets it”!  This also ties in with a fascinating discovery by EY that this generation is far more open to risk taking and failure. They see failure as an opportunity to learn.  

The question is what does this mean for employers?  Changing work landscapes is nothing new, organisations have learnt to go from paper diaries to computer software, from faxes to emails and from Rolodexes to CRM’s. But this has always been quite a tangible change.  You could hire in an IT specialist and make the changes you need to bring your business up to date.  But this change is far less tangible.  To adapt to this new workforce and to remain progressive in business, senior leaders and business owners will need a significant change in their attitude towards work and the workplace.

Employers will need to become much more flexible - even more so than the temporary changes driven by the pandemic.  They will need to consider 4-day weeks, no time limits at all, unlimited leave, output measures over input, capitalising on the gig economy and the human cloud. They will need to stand for something! Mixing business and politics used to be a big no no!  But these days, employees expect businesses to take a stance on current affairs (BLM, Roe v Wade, Brexit).  Organisations must have values for example supporting charitable causes and caring for the environment.  They will need to live these values not just promise them. They will need to revisit the traditional parent/child relationship that is so common in businesses and instead behave like adults and treat employees (and customers) like adults too. People with their own needs, wants, ambitions and values.

 

Of course you don’t have to. Your business will continue for some time without.  But once you start being left behind, the challenge you will face will be so much harder. The future of work is here now and progressive business owners looking to thrive need to rise to the challenges posed by Gen Zers now.

 

 

 

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