Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

Understanding Generation Z’s Expectations of the Working World

The new workforce generation, known as Generation Z, will bring a wealth of emerging talent to organisations across the UK. While it’s too early to know exactly how these digital natives, born from 1995 onwards, will want to work, it’s not too early to start understanding more about their expectations.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs believe Generation Z will be just as, if not more, influential than their Millennial predecessors (born 1977-1994). With such strong predictions we’ve been helping to bring employers together with Generation Z to discuss each other’s expectations of working together. Our aim is to increase the understanding about what each side has to offer, to help organisations to attract and retain the latest talent emerging from our schools, colleges and universities. The discussions have shown some common themes of what Generation Z are looking for in their first career roles.

They want to have a voice:

While they fully appreciate they are just starting out, they are looking for organisations where they feel their ideas and contributions will be listened to. They don’t want to feel in the dark because of their age or title. Employers should look to create an inclusive culture where new ideas can be expressed. One way we are seeing employers achieve this is through senior directors actively seeking out younger mentors. They understand that a new generation could look at things from a completely new angle and that their enthusiasm should be encouraged, but also channelled.

They like to feel valued:

This is a generation which is keen to understand their specific contribution and the overall impact this has on the organisation. To keep them engaged it will be important to make them feel appreciated. One way to achieve this is for employers to show how much value they place on this generation’s digital skills and to encourage younger employees to use these to positive effect. While Millennials were seen to be tech-savvy, Generation Z are true digital natives. They don’t remember a time before the internet and social media and smart technology has always been a way of life.

They don’t want to be stereotyped:

Some articles are already painting Generation Z as gratitude-craving, narcissistic, competitive and disloyal, so it’s not surprising that being stereotyped is a concern. They also don’t want to be pigeon-holed as the generation with weak face-to-face skills. Despite the perception of teenagers being consistently locked into a digital world, many have still taken customer facing jobs while studying. Employers shouldn’t assume that certain generations will all want the same thing, or act in the same way. Ask them what they want from their professional lives, what motivates them, and how they like to communicate etc. It’s important to understand what motivates people as individuals.

They are keeping their options open:

This generation no longer expects a job for life and many are choosing to take more generic degrees to keep their options open. Ideally they would like to be able to try different career paths before committing to one and they are concerned about getting stuck in a role with no development opportunities. Talent retention could be difficult as studies have shown that 83% of today’s students believe that three years or less is the appropriate amount of time to spend in their first job. Once employers have attracted Generation Z they should look to provide effective and frequent training, professional development opportunities and a variety of different work experiences to maintain a high level of engagement and to encourage retention.

They want flexibility and an ethical culture:

More than any other generation, flexible working and a good work-life balance is likely to be highly important to Generation Z. Recent statistics show that a friendly environment and allowance for flexible schedules were in the top five attributes this generation will look for in a job. They are also keen to work for an ethical organisation with values that appeal to them. To create a culture which is attractive to Generation Z employers should consider the flexible working practices they can offer and also build on their employer brand by highlighting the social responsibility side of the business.

They are not sure what opportunities are available:

We’re consistently hearing that Generation Z are not entirely sure what opportunities await them. This provides organisations with the chance to proactively engage with this generation and to highlight the career progression they can provide. This is especially relevant for SMEs as this is the type of business this generation feels particularly detached from. They are likely to be drawn to larger cities and big organisations where the graduate and training roles may be more widely publicised. Employers should look for proactive opportunities to promote the alternative career paths available with them.

[Featured image: Shutterstock]

By Gill Buchanan

Gill is a founding Director of Pure Resourcing Solutions has worked in the recruitment field since 1988. Gill’s experience is broad based and includes eight years of specialist recruitment experience within an international specialist recruitment company including five years working within financial services recruitment in Sydney, Australia.