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Move over, millennials! Gen Z is hitting the workforce – Here’s what you need to know

The first waves of Gen Z are entering the workforce and for the first time ever, four generations will be working together.

Born between 1995 and 2009, Gen Z is composed of every school-goer in Australia right now, with the first batch already in the workplace. While they currently make up 10 per cent of the workforce, in ten years time over a quarter of Australian employees will be Gen Z. Considering this, it is vital for companies to understand how Gen Z differs from the cohorts before them.

What businesses need to know about Gen Z

They are digital natives 

Born digital, Gen Z is the first generation who, as teenagers, did not experience a world with slow or stationary internet access. They are accustomed to consuming and sharing massive amounts of information on a daily basis, whilst quickly adapting to new technologies and implementing them into their work practices with ease – the latter signifying their innovative qualities.

They are target oriented

Having grown up in a time of economic and political uncertainty, Gen Z is target oriented and self motivated. They plan their careers and seek job security early on, with many seeing themselves as the owners of their future. Starting a long path of university education might be less attractive; on the contrary, early internships, apprenticeships and entrepreneurial opportunities are ideal.

They are diverse and global

Gen Z is believed to be the first truly diverse and global generation. Traditional gender segregation in jobs does not apply to them as strongly as for previous generations. This has major repercussions for businesses lagging on diversity and inclusion, as well as the optimum technologies.

Key barrier to attracting Gen Z to your workforce

As with every new generation of the workforce, they bring with them a fresh perspective.

Gen Z has higher workplace expectations than older groups and as such, do not feel the necessity of accepting the first job offer that comes through the door. They believe in exercising choice and the notion that there is a career out there well tailored to their personality, interests, aspirations and capabilities. To Gen Z, it is often the potential employee who chooses the employer.

Despite some social researchers labelling the group as ‘entitled’ and ‘over-rewarded’, Gen Z will soon be at the forefront of businesses worldwide. As such, it is now more vital than ever for companies to recognise their expectations and realities of work and importantly, take the right steps to attract them.

Three-step rule to winning over Gen Z  

  1. Think like a start-up

Gen Z is very entrepreneurial and desire to strike out on alone some day, so convincing them to choose your established business over setting up their own can be a challenge. Moreover, why should you hire employees who are focused on becoming their own bosses?

Quite the reverse – the entrepreneurial spirit emphasises innovation and drive, and what better characteristics to have in a young employee than these?

Companies like IBM have tackled this by building business divisions that act, feel and innovate like a start-up. Some businesses are enabling employees with a greater voice over key decisions, whilst others have taken steps to ensure they see the direct impact of their work on the big picture. ‘Hack days’ and dedicated ‘days of ideation’ – where new ideas can flourish – are also key ways to attract these aspiring entrepreneurs.

  1. Flexibility is key

Gen Z is the first generation to not know life without the internet. They expect this mobile and always-on aspect of their personal lives to translate across into their work life. Gen Z crave flexibility and will expect to be able to work wherever they want, whenever they want, whether that’s in some semblance of the traditional office, on the road, or at home.

  1. Lure them with learning

Gen Z will learn from what happened to the millennials, many of whom are saddled with significant education-related debt. Smart employers could figure out ways to offer industry or job-specific learning to supplement or replace traditional university degrees.

From short courses to mentoring and coaching – as skills change more rapidly than ever before, businesses offering advanced learning development will be popular with Gen Z.

Ultimately, it is crucial for businesses to find a balance that can be altered depending on an employee’s needs. This is especially so as we move towards one of the most multi-generational workforce to date. The most successful organisations will adapt and foster the right environment, to eventually benefit from the strengths of Gen Z and its preceding generations.

About the author

Marianna Mood, General Manager, Adecco Office

Marianna leads the Adecco Office business unit across Australia. She recently joined Adecco in order to grow the office sector. She has over 18 years of recruitment, sales and operational experience gained across a number of industry sectors in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Marianna has a strong focus on business commercials, aligning to market growth through segmentation and a background in permanent recruitment. She has extensive experience leading teams across a number of specialisations including detailed operational expertise of the office specialty.

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Marianna Mood

Marianna Mood

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