Published on Jul 20, 2023
You know Gen Z right? They're
- Who are always on TikTok
Or so the argument goes from the Daily Mail. And yet, if you speak to them - and listen - you'll find that they're driving significant change in the workplace. Perhaps more than any generation that's gone before them.
So what do they want? Well, according to a recent study, they want three things - learning, ethics & flexibility. And if they don't get them, they'll walk. Let's look a little closer:
Most Gen Z-ers entering the workplace actually entered during or at the start of the pandemic. That's obviously not a great place to start. Many were furloughed or laid off, and that's led to a high number of young people who have started their careers off freelancing. Asking them now to come back into the office is going to be hard!
However, tempting them back in is all about the package, and learning & development is a huge part of that. Companies that are able to offer bespoke programmes are the ones that will benefit most. It's not a case of learning on the job, which is what Gen X and Millenials might have been used to - it's a case of finding tailored programmes for learning.
That could be a pick and mix from different organisations OR it could be one organisation (hello, we're over here) who can design bespoke programmes for teams. Fail to do that, and a competitor will snap your people up.
This is a leadership issue. 40% of Gen Z-ers have turned down roles that don't align with their ethics, and many are turning roles down because of sustainability issues.
Imagine, for instance, that as a medical devices leader, your products are not sustainable. They can't be refurbished or recycled, and therefore, you're sending them to landfill.
That will have to be in your annual report, and it's Gen Z who are reading those reports. They're into the finer detail, and they won't let you get away with it. If you want to hire top talent, ethics has to come from the top - and it has to be proven.
As I mentioned above, this is a generation where many started out freelance. They saw their parents working from home during the pandemic, setting up and adapting perfectly well, and many have stayed that way.
So why should they be treated differently?
There is a willingness to go back into the office, but only for part of the week, and there is a demand from Gen Z-ers for flexible hours that fit around their lives or make the commute easier.
If your business is entrenched in the 9-5 presence in the office, there are plenty of other businesses for Gen Z-ers to choose from that offer more flexible work environments, and they probably offer great training and development opportunities too.
It's just three things. Three big things, yes. But your workforce is ever evolving, and Gen Z is the generation that is fundamentally changing the way we think about work, perhaps more than any generation before it. They're voting with their feet, and proving that it's not true that they're lazy, entitled job-hoppers. What's true is that they're asking more of employers than anyone before them, and that's changing everything.
What's more, we'll all benefit.
Published on Jul 20, 2023 by Gareth Cartman