Over the next decade Generation Z, those born in the mid to late 90s, will be entering the workplace in large numbers and disrupting the way we work well into the future. We’re already experiencing the impact of their older siblings, the Millennials in our workplaces, we expect these new recruits to continue transforming the modern workplace, aided and abetted by technology.
To get ahead of the curve, how can you align your workplace, culture and working methods to attract and retain Gen Z?
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How to optimise your workplace for Generation Z
Whatever your feelings about a generation that is sometimes derogatory called the ‘Snowflake Generation’, businesses and organisations need Gen Z. In 2020 this age group are expected to make up 24% of the global workforce, and rising. While the Millennials and Gen X are level pegging on 35%, any business leader that wants to future proof their recruitment and engagement strategies should be thinking about Gen Z.
There are numerous articles, reports and surveys sharing what Generation Z wants, but how do these trends and needs fit into the modern workplace? Below I share my thoughts:
Work life balance
According to a Gallup poll 7 in 10 young employees experience burnout, up 7% on older generations. Also, 3 in 10 young employees say they are very often or always burned out at work. That makes them more likely to take time off work, and more likely to quit altogether. What they want is a way to achieve a better work life balance that helps them manage stress and burnout.
Increasing mobility is one way to do this. Flexible and remote working policies are a great way to attract talent who want the autonomy to manage their time both at work and at play. In fact, flextime (such as working longer days for a shorter week) or telecommuting is no longer viewed as a perk but as a standard work function. After all, flexible and remote working policies have been shown to increase productivity and reduces absenteeism, so why wouldn’t you allow staff to benefit from better work life balance?
More opportunities to collaborate with colleagues
It goes without saying that Gen Z are digitally savvy, the first fully digital generation. However, they also want human contact and to work with colleagues rather than in isolation. Whether that’s as a result of a digital backlash or because teaching methods in schools and universities are far more collaborative than in previous decades, Gen Z likes human interaction.
In recent years we’ve seen how workplace design has changed to offer employees more opportunities to collaborate. From informal meeting spaces to hotdesks and brainstorming spaces, the modern workplace provides physical space to work alongside colleagues from across an organisation. The modern workplace can also enhance this experience using digital solutions such as Office 365 and SharePoint. This ensures remote workers also get the opportunities they want to collaborate, albeit without the face-to-face contact.
As members of the digital generation, Gen Z employees are highly skilled at finding solutions and getting on with a task by themselves. Their working methods might be different to previous generations but often they're more effective; cutting out red tape and admin, and delivering results. Preconceived ideas about how to approach a problem go out the window with a digitally empowered workforce.
Many organisations might view this as a risky practice. For example, employees using their own device and apps for business activities can expose a company to compliance or security risks. However, preventing Gen Z from using technology in such an intuitive way is not, in my view, the answer. Instead I believe we should be building a culture that supports BYOD, employees using their own apps and productivity tools, and employees working in ‘unconventional’ ways. Solutions such as Microsoft Intune can help your organisation get the benefits of BYOD without the associated risks. Embrace these new working methods!
Many surveys have shown that Generation Z has higher levels of entrepreneurial spirit than previous generations. Approximately half of Gen Z say they would like to run their own business, while others are highly focused on career progression and expect their employers to provide opportunities to succeed on their chosen path.
Retaining talented and innovative individuals therefore becomes a priority, and organisations should explore ways to give employees the tools they need to perform at their best. Agile and innovative organisations have an advantage, particularly if they also promote innovation and allow employees to pursue their own projects. Technology has naturally created opportunities to disrupt traditional business models as well as design new solutions. Generation Z has the right mindset and skills to accelerate innovation if you provide them with the right tools.
What does the future hold?
Organisations that want to grow, compete and succeed over the next decade need to optimise their workplace for Generation Z. From culture, workplace design to digital technology, now’s the time to start creating an environment that allows them to thrive and use their skills, DIY attitude, and entrepreneurial spirit to help your organisation thrive.
If you would like to explore how digital transformation can help you achieve this, please get in touch.