Generation Z : The New Workforce

For many Gen-Z, they have just completed their higher education not too long ago. This also marks an important transition from adolescence to adulthood, and many of them are experiencing firsthand how the business world works outside the protective wall of colleges. Many of them are probably submitting their resume to your ATS for an entry-level job, in order to learn some professional skills.

However, for Gen-Z, they might not be facing the same challenge that most of the HR leaders face long ago when they first entered the industry: with increasingly competitive value chains and AI uprising, the nature of work has shifted from daily transactional tasks to non-routine task which requires mostly researched based tasks and finding solutions out of ordinary transactional work. This shift of work is consequential: the changing nature of work forces the leadership to strategize on onboarding the new workforce while transitioning the existing workforce to ensure that the combined workforce are equipped with the skill to drive success and enable value.

Technology’s Role in Eliminating Entry-Level Work

Technology, or rather Automation in general, is not just replacing manufacturing and warehouse jobs. With the development of machine learning and AI, even white collar tasks such as helpdesk and reporting are being decimated in many industries. Automation will ultimately have a long-term impact on upward mobility for young graduates who are seeking to set their foot in the business world. 

With technology decimating the entry-level work, the cost of new talent will go up, as the next level job that automation could not replace, will then have to be filled with experienced worker, essentially creating a position gap in between fresh graduate and even if a young graduate managed to land a position, there will be a steep learning curve to adjust into the position.

As many leaders reading this, one might have realised that the said phenomenon is creating not just an unsustainable environment, but concurrently making an entry-level salary cost a lot more than they used to. Young graduates with no experience have few opportunities to get started, and even if they do get in, the bar is set too high for the inexperienced. 

Gen-Z Expectation

Gen-Z enters the stage quite differently as compared to, let’s say millennials or Gen X, Gen Y etc. During the first industrial revolution, all that employees could care for was sufficie

nt income to put food on tables. As the world changes, so would expectations toward a job. People would want allowances to travel, benefits to cover medical and dental, sometimes optical and so on. Gen-Z also brings something to the table. According to this article, there are 5 major things that Gen-Z looks for in a company.

  1. Diversity, equality and inclusion: If companies don’t actively address Gen Z’s demand for meaningful implementation of DEI strategies in the workplace, they will ultimately lose the ability to attract and retain a large majority of early talent, which will, in the long run, have negative impacts on their future workforce development.
  2. They expect pay to be transparent & fair: Gen Z has more access to pay information that has not been seen in prior generations. This unhappiness has been sparked by the fact that pay transparency, social media and other platforms educate workers on their value in the marketplace. Older generations simply didn’t have access to online information such as Glassdoor salaries — discovering your market value as an employee was far more challenging even just 10 years ago.
  3. Mental health is a long-term priority: More and more, employees expect employers to consider their whole selves and the roles they play outside of the office. The blurred lines of work and life have made it impossible to separate the two, and younger workers are no longer trying to compartmentalise their lives.
  4. Company culture should be flexible and supportive: To attract top talent, today’s employer is going to have to be flexible and meet the employee where they want to be [whether it’s] working asynchronously if their role permits, providing flexible time and absolutely permitting a remote or hybrid option. Today’s manager needs to adapt and quickly learn what it means to support today’s worker in a way that will drive retention and increase productivity
  5. Ethical companies are the only option: Employers need to demonstrate and identify their purpose and values. There’s a greater pool of employers and options for how people can work, so given the choice of working for a company with a strong, ethical culture, or one without, the vast majority will select the former.

Gen-Z’s Value and Why it Matters

Gen-Z, at least in Isaac Song’s previous perspective, has always been about dancing to Tik Tok videos and posting pictures of food on Instagram. However, little do we know that Gen-Z is probably the most tech-savvy generation yet. Gen-Z are always connected and have everything on the internet at their disposal. From doing homework to investing in stock, ordering food to ordering strangers on the internet to drive them to places. Gen-Z probably also knows more about Bitcoin and how to make money with Ethereum. They are well adapted to the high speed technological advancement and embracing change instinctively. That is also why it allows Gen-Z to work efficiently and adopt new solutions quickly and effectively. If you ask a Gen-Z how to change a tire on a car, they are more likely to pop into a Youtube video and learn on the spot on how to do that.

Gen-Z also has a different take on failures. When it comes to failure, Gen Z is not afraid to embrace it. In fact, more than 80 percent of Gen Z think that embracing failure on a project will help them to be more innovative and 17 percent believe that it will make them more comfortable to take on new risks. Gen Z is also not afraid to make mistakes, especially when they are able to learn from them. Largely all of Gen Z (97 percent) is receptive to receiving feedback on an ongoing basis or after completing a large project or task, and 63 percent of respondents prefer to receive timely constructive feedback throughout the year.

In this article as well, John Boinott shares that despite Gen-Z use of social media and electronic, Gen-Z values having authentic connections with their supervisors and higher-ups. They value input and feedback, and will put any information you give them to good use. Gen Z is also most interested in working for a cause or company that they are passionate about, and may be willing to be paid less to do so. If they are genuinely interested in promoting what your company has to offer, you can bet that they will be hardworking, loyal, and a good investment.

An Opportunity for HR to redesign entry-level work

With the growing use of automated technologies and new generations entering the workforce, this presents a great opportunity for leaders to redefine entry-level work. Organisations should reevaluate the skill sets that are critical for the execution of the organisation’s strategy and the persistence of the company’s competitive advantage. For companies reevaluating entry-level needs as part of a broader workforce planning effort, this may mean rebalancing between defining entry level work to serve as a learning environment for future leaders, or to ensure the flow of tacit knowledge in a digitally driven environment. 

Conclusion

Generation Z has a great amount of drive, talent, and ambition to bring to the table. They are not above working hard for their paycheck, they are loyal, and are able to innovate your company to match the changing times. They are willing to grow and progress quickly and intend on making an impact on the organisation they work for from the beginning. This means these companies must be willing to work hard for their attention, offering adequate salaries and benefits, in order to attract talented young adults to their doorstep. 

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