Have you ever been exasperated by the differences in opinion between your parents, your 14 year old and yourself on basic decisions such as what to order in or which TV channel to watch?
How hard was it to reach a common ground and was everyone eventually happy?
Now amplify this disconnect at an organizational level where complex generational dynamics are at play and impact everything from work allocation to marketing approach or product design.
Not getting this equation right would have deeper implications on manager-employee relations, organizational culture and even business sustainability and growth.
Over the last few decades, the quest to understand how different generations behave as consumers, employees, leaders or citizens has taken a new turn as millennials were shaping the market, workplace and the world we lived in. The focus has now shifted to Gen Z – as people born from 1995 to 2010 – come of age.
By 2025, this group will make up a quarter of the Asia–Pacific (APAC) region’s population – the same as millennials (born 1980–1995). For the first time in history, four generations are actively participating in society and in organizations and many find themselves under-prepared.
In a post pandemic world going through the ‘Great Resignation’, the war for talent is real. It is necessitating a rehash of talent attraction and retention strategies and hitting the bull’s eye on generational dynamics and specially the approach around Gen Z is key to stay ahead of the curve.
What you need to know about Gen Z at the workplace
While the jury is still out on how this generation is going to behave at the workplace, we do have early trends. Most studies point towards the obvious – Gen Zs are digital nomads who are comfortable with technology and can seamlessly connect with others in both online and offline networks. Very similar to the millennials before them, Gen Z is very socially conscious and wants to be associated with organizations that have a strong Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) agenda.
However, very interesting trends are noticed in a recently concluded study by Pulsifi where data on work values and work interest from 12,000 applicants to entry-level graduate programs in Singapore and Malaysia over 2020 / 21 was analyzed.
It was noted that unlike millennials, Gen Z gives greater importance to financial and job security. Reward at the workplace is very important to them which is not a surprise given they have grown up amidst global recession.
Their quest for financial stability and reward is unlikely to automatically yield lower attrition rates. Beyond compensation, Gen Z is looking at their employers to guide them through their career discovery phase, provide them formal training, help them build softer attributes such as confidence, interpersonal skills etc. and support their entrepreneurial streak. The need for stability does however provide valuable insight into skills that organizations can help Gen Z build – resilience and adaptability to navigate the uncertain times.
Turning opportunity into success
Although Gen Zs share many qualities with millennials, it’s wrong to think of them simply as a younger version. Gen Z has its own unique characteristic and it is important for organizations to understand who they are addressing before defining their people policies and practices. A comprehensive game plan in the war for talent would involve having the right ammunition (data), right weapons (carefully curated touch-points and platforms) and a well-trained army (managers/ leaders who are aware of themselves and appreciate diverse generations).
- Know your people: Moving from headcount reporting to predictive analytics
If you have not already started looking at your employee lifecycle dashboards with the same analytical lens that you use on your sales or service metrics, it is high time to start doing it. Demographic composition of existing employees and how that is changing with the entry of Gen Z into the workforce should be a crucial factor informing all workforce decisions.
To zoom into and get a deeper understanding of each individual, you can leverage predictive analytics software such as Pulsifi’s platform. Our platform provides holistic profiles on each employee and as a group. Using predictive analytics, you will be able to not only understand each employee’s current interests and abilities, but also predict their potential and work outcomes.
- Tailor your touch-points to cater to Gen Z, starting from candidate experience
Whether you are creating marketing content for prospective applicants or deciding on assessment design, the priorities and preferences of Gen Z should be a guiding principle. For instance, projecting your ESG agenda on job advertisements is likely to attract more Gen Zs to vacancies given their heavy inclination to work for organizations that contribute to society.
Investing in proven assessment tools that help applicants know themselves better would be a wise move as part of overall candidate experience which should also include clear and frequent communication that helps them avoid feelings of uncertainty or being unfairly treated.
Pulsifi would be one such platform for you to consider as it provides an individual report of each candidate’s personality assessment for self-awareness and development purposes. This delivers an enhanced candidate experience that helps candidates to discover themselves and feel assured of a fair, structured selection process. As for the hiring managers, our platform analyzes multiple sources of data to help you truly understand your people and generate personalized employee development recommendations.
Increasing popularity of graduate programs which include structured rotations and learning interventions amongst Gen Z underline the importance of creating touch-points that help them find their groove through individual experience and not by ‘being told’. Organizations investing in holistic candidate assessment tools within applicant tracking systems and structured learning and development initiatives are likely to reap greater benefits as the generational dynamics shift.
- Create opportunities to listen and collaborate
If there is one way to understand the seemingly alien teenager on your dinner table- it is to listen without judging and to create opportunities to do things together. The workplace is no different. Studies show that as much as Baby Boomers and Gen X are apprehensive about working with millennials and even more so with Gen Z, Gen Z tends to find older generations intimidating, hard to communicate with and resistant to change. Gen Z is worried about not being heard and being underestimated at the workplace.
George Orwell had famously said – “Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one after it”. For leaders at the helm of organizations going through tectonic generational shifts that are creating fault lines, it is crucial to create spaces for open dialogue and opportunities for generations to learn from one another. Initiatives such as reverse mentoring, multi-generation project teams and cross generational awareness sessions are some great starting points. Attempts to build collaboration amongst generations must have people managers and organization’s leaders at the center as they would eventually be brand ambassadors of the candidate and employee experience.
The entry of Gen Z into the workforce is going to change the cultural fabric at every organization and is likely to be a dominant variable in determining who wins the war for talent. Like the generations that came before, Gen Z with its distinct values and principles will have an impact on the way we work and the future will require a much more calculated, flexible and sensible approach to recruiting, employing, developing, re-skilling and up-skilling people. Investing in the right technology platforms that provide meaningful insights and best in class candidate experiences catered to Gen Z can help you make smarter and more impactful decisions.