UNDERSTANDING millennials has always been a challenge for companies as the group’s life and career expectations differ significantly from that of those in the previous generation.
Now, just as companies finally understand how to provide millennials with the ideal ecosystem where expectations are met and productivity soars, they have yet another demographic to dissect: the Gen Z.
These are the youngest executives joining the workforce today — being between 19 and 23 years old.
It’s a group that could represent up to 20 percent of the workforce by 2020, especially in countries currently benefitting from the “demographic dividend” such as India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. Here, hundreds of thousands of young people join the workforce every month.
According to a new study, the Gen Z could be a tough group to manage — after all, their confidence in their tech skills doesn’t necessarily equate to workforce readiness. They’re also keen on work that offers them more value than just a paycheck, such as working for a socially responsible firm or in a place that offers them opportunities to learn new skills and have new experiences.
However, being digital natives, they may have a unique edge compared to “their seniors” and could provide significant support to the digital transformation agenda and accelerate the journey to digital maturity in most industries.
The study found that not only will access to the latest technologies entice Gen Z job candidates, it also fulfills their need to be in a workplace that invests in cutting-edge digital solutions that allows them to share their knowledge.
When evaluating the responses of the Gen Z workforce as a whole, it seems as though they’re much more prepared for an automated and AI-powered future where their role is to add value rather than to perform repetitive tasks like their predecessors.
Ninety-one percent of the 12,000 Gen Z-ers surveyed said that technology offered by an employer would be a factor when choosing among similar job offers and 80 percent said that they believe technology and automation will create a more equitable work environment.
Unlike millennials, Gen Z-ers are more conscious of the impact their social media profiles and online presence could have on their careers, and are also more aware of data security and privacy than most other generations.
The study found that 95 percent of respondents are careful about what they post on social media because it could impact their careers, while 73 percent rank data security as a high priority.
In fact, 31 percent of Gen Z-ers even said that they’re doing everything they can to protect their data.
Although the study concludes that Gen Z-ers are not entirely ready to join the workforce yet (94 percent “have concerns about starting work”), it does find that 73 percent of them rank their technology literacy as good or excellent.
Also, 52 percent of those surveyed said they are more confident they have technology skills employers want than non-technology skills.
Overall, as organisations prepare to welcome Gen Z-ers into the workplace, the study recommends that schools teach students how, not just what, to learn, and suggests that companies help Gen Z-ers build soft skills and confidence through internships, job rotations, and other programs.
Finally, as up to 83 percent of Gen Z-ers have some work experience already, it’s important for businesses to quickly understand how to capitalise on the skills, drive, and energy that these young executives bring to the workplace while ensuring their goals and expectations are aligned with the those of the organisation.
This article was first published on our sister website Tech Wire Asia.