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10 drivers to connected with Gen Z employees

Posted by Flux on 

5 April 2023

As of 2023, the oldest members of Gen Z are turning 26, which means they have been a part of the workforce for a few years now. Soon this generation will represent a large portion of the labour pool. Indeed, by 2025, Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce in OECD countries and they are writing a new script for work. Having witnessed older workers struggle with burnout and economic insecurity, they are demanding more from employers and are willing to walk away from their jobs if their needs aren’t met.

Businesses that want to recruit and retain this cohort will need to consider adopting a company culture aligned with their values and preferences. The following represent the key drivers that employers should consider:

  • Salary: Gen Zers value the stability that comes from having a fulltime job with a clearly defined compensation package. Salary remains the most important factor in deciding on a job but less so than for previous generations. According to Deloitte about 50% would choose a lower paying job over one that is better paying but boring. They also value pay equity and are sharing salary information openly, increasingly expecting employers to do the same to affirm their commitment to pay equity.
  • Diversity and inclusivity: This generation values inclusivity that goes beyond gender and race, to encompass a whole spectrum of identities and orientations. Companies that embody this commitment to diversity and inclusivity, both in terms of their employees and their external branding, will go a long way towards attracting and retaining Gen Z talent.
  • Mental health support: According to Cigna International Health’s 2023 survey of almost 12,000 workers around the world, 91% of 18- to 24-year-olds report being stressed – compared to 84% for employees in general. In a landscape where rising inflation outpaces salary growth, younger employees are reporting heightened stress levels due to economic uncertainty and work-related burnout, more so than older generations. Many experience anxiety and depression, which affects their work performance and are more likely to leave their jobs due to burnout. As an employer, it is important to support their wellbeing through a variety of benefits and practices in order for them to perform at their best.
  • Side hustles: We are seeing an increase in young workers chasing multiple jobs and sources of income. Side hustles are necessary to supplement income for many people while some seek them out to pursue passion projects. A more flexible work schedule and reduced commuting times have enabled this practice. Drop shipping (where you sell merchandise without stocking it, essentially acting as a middleman), Amazon reselling and inventing your own cosmetic line, are examples of what young people are doing. Employers who embrace this notion will be dealing with fulfilled workers who are likely to provide skills they can apply in their 9-5 jobs.
  • Mentorship: This generation is looking to be mentored and to have a seat at the table. They want to work alongside experienced peers and to leverage the expertise of older workers. The views of these younger workers could help the company spot inefficient processes that have become routine, so leaders can also benefit from reverse mentorship. Support this generation by creating a mentoring programme.
  • Career progression: They want a clear career progression path and development opportunities. Demonstrate that you are invested in their success by sharing with them their trajectory within the company and regularly re-visit this. To keep them on this growth pathway, they also seek out industry-related training.
  • Pace of technological change: This digital native generation is looking for tech-enabled workspaces with updated technology and digital workplace tools. They want the companies they work for to match the speed of technological change within the company with that of the external environment.
  • Greater good: They have high standards when it comes to ethics and transparency, and are looking for companies that demonstrate their commitment to a broader set of societal challenges, such as climate change, income inequality and discrimination. They will want to highlight their efforts to be good global citizens. According to research by McKinsey, Gen Z is a purpose-driven generation. They need to understand how their role matters within the organisation and broader society.
  • Continuous feedback: Gen Zers desire feedback on their performance on a regular basis. This may be attributed to them being accustomed to real-time updates on social media and being able to search for anything online instantly. The annual performance review is not enough for them. Regular feedback provides opportunities to learn and improve in real time. They thrive on positive reinforcement which keeps them motivated and dedicated.
  • Flexibility: Flexible work hours and the ability to work from home when possible enable these young workers to live balanced lifestyles, which they prioritise. They don’t identify themselves by the work they do, but rather by their pursuits outside the office, spending time with family and hobbies for example. They are assertive about this and increasingly bring it up in job interviews. However, they also crave in-person interaction through team building activities, team celebrations, and weekly status meetings, which serve to strengthen their bonds with colleagues.

In summary, the youngest in the labour force have the potential to bring meaningful change to the workplace, change that would benefit the older generations as well. It is up to employers to listen carefully and make changes to a workplace that needs to evolve to accommodate this new generation of employees.

By Faeeza Khan

In an era where foresight, problem solving and left field thinking are the new business currency, Flux Trends is proud to announce the launch of the Flux Innovation Tour 2023: Meet the Solution-Based, Future Innovators Defining the New World Order.

This unique full-day tour is designed to simultaneously shift your thinking and challenge your perceptions of the innovation process by – literally – introducing delegates to the future. Specifically, by introducing you to the young innovators, creatives and entrepreneurs building the future of South Africa, Africa, and the world.

Image credit: Callum Shaw

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