Farewell 2019 – officially the year Gen Z (born in 1997) graduated college and entered the workforce.
According to ThinkWhy’s 2020 outlook report, Gen Z is on track to become the most educated and technologically advanced generation to date. Disciplined by exposure to technological innovations from an early age, they have acute problem-solving skills. In an era of artificial intelligence and advanced technologies being introduced daily, this empowers Gen Z as a workforce necessity.
Meanwhile, Millennials are rising in their careers to fill management roles, and Gen X and Baby Boomers are using their experience and institutional knowledge to train younger workers and act as mentors. This new decade is bringing a “new” multi-skilled workforce into the spotlight, which embodies the challenges – and opportunities – of creating connection and shared goals amongst four generations.
A Decade of Divide?
With five generations spanning the workforce today, how will the labor market and workplace change as Gen Z begins to influence the way we work? And what strategies should organizations employ to recruit this important set of the workforce?
Gen Z is quickly disputing traditional methods of recruitment and retention in favor of more robust considerations, creating a need for the labor market to adapt. For example, 77% of Gen Z said that a company’s level of diversity affects their decision to work there, and 91% of Gen Z reported that technological sophistication would impact their interest in working at a company.
Companies should prioritize a diverse and a dynamic work culture not just to attract important Gen Z talent, but to create a more stimulating work environment that embraces varying perspectives, as it often leads to better work outcomes. Due in part to a historically low employment rate, having an on-campus presence or a recruitment program focused on college graduates can be a critically important strategy for employers to attract Gen Z prospects as competition in the labor market across top U.S. MSAs remains tight.
No single resource can provide an absolute guide for engagement drivers for this emerging generation in the labor market. However, we know that employers should do the following in order to attract Gen Z, based on several sources and polls:
- Leverage modern technology
- Encourage transparency
- Celebrate diversity and inclusion
- Support employee growth and a clear path to advancement
- Provide regular feedback
- Share the company mission and vision
There are also advantages and lessons to be gained from Gen X and Baby Boomers further maturing and saturating leadership bands. These groups retain an incredible work ethic, so they often work harder, longer. Older employees with more work experience and institutional knowledge are critical to shaping and training younger workers, like the new Gen Z entrants. Additionally, after decades in the workforce, older workers may seek opportunities for more flexible or part-time schedules, allowing companies to benefit at a lower cost compared to retaining them full-time.
Tomorrow’s Workplace, Today
While a traditional workforce will always have its place, Gen Z has catalyzed change in the way we work. Alongside other advancements – in technology, company policies, working structure – the labor market and employers must adapt to meet the needs of its current participants.
Gen Z may have a vastly different method of considering where, when and how they want to work compared to prior generations, but these juxtaposed perspectives actually provide a unique opportunity for businesses. We now have the chance to proactively reshape the workplace in a way that bestows years of wisdom on a younger generation, while encouraging workplace diversity, inclusion, and collaboration. An organization’s efforts to unite these generations and allow their respective strengths to shine can create a competitive edge for companies and inspire a thriving employee engagement strategy.
Claudine Zachara serves as president and chief operating officer, with responsibility for management of ThinkWhy. As co-founder, her focus is on driving the vision, values and culture for the organization, while setting strategic direction, creating sound operational procedures, and delivering profitability. Zachara brings 20 years of experience in commercial operations which includes serving as CMO and Senior Vice President of Revenue Operations for three prior SaaS organizations. Her experience includes leadership roles in private and public companies, board positions for non-profits and municipalities, building high-performance teams, and driving sustainable growth.
ThinkWhy® is helping companies navigate a new era of work by creating modern, human-centered solutions that drive alignment between labor economics and business strategy. The company’s first product, LaborIQ™, helps employers understand labor supply and demand, benchmark roles, compensation and talent requirements through one intuitive platform, creating a strategic business advantage for clients. LaborIQ is the first platform to bridge the gap between labor market analysis and compensation planning, helping business leaders understand the specific impact to their organizations. Learn more at www.ThinkWhy.com or follow us: