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  • David

Coming to a workplace near you

Over the next few years, companies will be recruiting from a whole new generation of talent graduating from college or university. Generation Z, as it is known, encompasses those born between 1997 and 2012, making the eldest of them 25 in 2022.

We are never a fan of labelling or generalisations, but there is evidence that the future workforce is looking for something different.

Hybrid is important What motivates young people, and how can organisations prepare for new intakes in the years to come?

According to one recent survey, 70% of Gen Z’s said they would choose an employer that offered a hybrid model over one that didn’t. And it’s easy to see why, given that hybrid provides employees with the option of splitting their time between working from an HQ and from home.

Gen Zs will typically live in shared accommodation, competing for space with housemates, so may want to spend time away from home but, equally, don’t want to spend every day in the office. Hybrid work provides the obvious solution.

Something to watch our for here though is the immersion into work that many of us will have experienced. That introduction to workplace etiquette, to building relationships, to politics, to the social connection we get from work colleagues. We must be making provision for that for new colleagues to be successful.

An entrepreneurial spirit Not only is Gen Z the most populous generation on Earth – with 2.5 billion people – but it is also the most racially and ethnically diverse.

Plus it is on track to be the most educated, according to Pew Research. They’ve grown up in a digital world and know the importance of ‘personal brand’ so today’s young people are typically more entrepreneurial and more inclined towards activism than older generations. You only have to look at the media to see this is evident.

Hyper aware of current affairs and cultural issues relating to matters such as climate change, race, gender, diversity, self-

care, feminism and sexuality, they have a distinctly progressive way of thinking. Deloitte says companies that want to attract Generation Z will “need to demonstrate their commitment to a broader set of societal challenges, such as sustainability.”

When it comes to work, apart from having that hybrid work option, what else ranks among Gen Z’s top priorities?

A generational shift According to research by Deloitte, although salary remains the most important factor in deciding on what job to take, young people value financial reward less than every other generation. It says: “If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen Z was fairly evenly split over the choice.”

A recent article in The New York Times, entitled ‘The 37-Year-Olds Are Afraid of the 23-Year-Olds Who Work for Them’, revealed that millennial employers are confronting unique situations with Gen Zs.

“Subtly yet un

deniably, as generational shifts tend to go, there’s a new crop of employees determining the norms and styles of the workplace,” it says. “And they have no qualms about questioning all the antiquated ways of their slightly older managers, from their views on politics in the office to their very obsession with work.”

Gen Z workers are entering the workforce at a critical time in history – during a global pandemic in a world facing an existential climate crisis – and they have been empowered to express themselves.

Plus, the whole world of work has been turned on its head, with hybrid working increasingly becoming the norm. This means less time in an office alongside colleagues and bosses, and more time working from home.

That preference for hybrid working will benefit those companies who have either seen the way of travel and are already providing employees with the hybrid option or have hybrid as a key part of their strategy going forward.

Flexibility is clearly at the top of the Gen Z agenda, as is work-life balance, but older employers need to be prepared for new hires to ‘disrespect’ hierarchy by delegating to senior members of the team or ‘oversharing’ their problems and vulnerabilities – and for many that will take some getting used to.

The key to building successful relationships with young people lies in listening to them and not underestimating their abilities or the value of their opinions.

I’ve always found that working with young people and providing opportunity teaches us as much as we can share with them. We’ve had successful partnerships with our local Universities and have seen the value that these partnerships bring to our business. Whilst we judge against what is familiar to us, and through our own lens, it’s been more than eye-opening to the way we do business and I think that is worth celebrating.

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