How to get Generation Z into your Future Workplace

Published September 16, 2016

You’ve probably heard a lot about the ‘Millennial’ generation, and how their attitudes are set to change the very nature of the modern workplace.  However, the last Millennials have already ‘come of age’, and there are some new kids on the scene that will shake up our focus.

We’re talking about Generation Z; those born in the late 90s / early 00s who will soon be hitting a working adult age.   What do we know about the latest generational cohort, and how can we use this information to enhance the narrative around recruiting top talent in the future?

According to current research by Universum (a 50,000 participant strong survey) and reports in Future Workplace in association with Randstad, Generation Z will be similar to Millennials in their use of technology.  Having said that, Millennials grew up with the mainstream birth of the Internet, but Gen Z has grown up in a world that is already fully acclimatised to it.  Gen Z will be even more comfortable with the use of technology, and will be even more likely to engage in learning through platforms like YouTube, Twitter and microblogging sites than their Millennial counterparts.

On the topic of learning, in stark contrast to Millennials’ expectations around coaching and receiving lots of support in professional development, there are reasons why Gen Z could have a preference for independent learning.  The research predicts this by theorising that Gen Z will be wearier of the uncertain and ambiguous conditions caused by the Great Recession of the late 00s / early 10s, having observed the impacts it had on their parents and siblings.

Trends among current 16-18 year olds showed a greater intention to save money immediately, as they were more pessimistic about their chances of having a better standard of living than their parents. 62% of Gen Z surveyed also expressed openness to joining work straight after school rather than going into higher education.  Therefore, Gen Z seems keen to begin their careers sooner than previous generations, but with less “hand-holding” than older generations.

What does this mean for talent acquisition?  Companies with attractive apprenticeships and graduate schemes may be the beneficiaries of Gen Z’s preferences, especially if they are so attractive that they lead to high retention of top young talent.

We may also need to focus less on sifting people out of a recruitment process based on their qualifications, as Gen Z will have acquired knowledge, skills and effective behaviour through experience rather than degrees.  Ernst and Young are a high profile example of an organisation that has removed academic criteria from its sifting, and it is expected that many companies will follow suit.

Instead, effective assessment should therefore focus initially on technical skills testing and relevant psychometric testing to find out who has the essential skills and knowledge for a given role.  Then it should progress the effective talent to behavioural exercises.  We know from research that these methods are some of the best predictors of future performance, and will ensure you’re getting the strongest Gen Z talent into your organisation.

Author: Jordon Jones

    Read more in Apprenticeship Levy