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When it comes to hiring entry-level positions over the next few years, start-ups will be recruiting from Gen Z – a whole new generation of talent graduating from tertiary institutions.
Gen Z encompasses those born between 1997 and 2012, making the eldest of them 25 in 2022. From an employer’s perspective, it’s critical to understand what motivates young people and how companies can prepare for new intakes in the years to come.
According to one recent survey, 70% of Gen Zs said they would choose an employer that offered a hybrid model over one that didn’t. And it’s easy to see why, given that hybrid allows employees to split their time between working from an HQ, from home and from a local coworking space.
Gen Zs will typically live in shared accommodation, competing for space with housemates, so may want to spend time away from home but, equally, don’t want to spend every day in the office. Hybrid work provides the obvious solution.
A generation of entrepreneurs
Not only is Gen Z the most populous generation on Earth – with 2.5 billion people – but it is also the most racially and ethnically diverse.
Plus, it is on track to be the most educated. Growing up as digital natives with a strong sense of the importance of ‘personal brand’, young people are typically more entrepreneurial and more inclined towards activism than older generations.
Super “woke” to current affairs and cultural issues relating to matters such as climate change, race, gender, diversity, self-care, feminism and sexuality, they have a distinctly progressive way of thinking. Deloitte says companies that want to attract Generation Z will “need to demonstrate their commitment to a broader set of societal challenges, such as sustainability.”
When it comes to work, apart from having that hybrid work option, what else ranks among Gen Zs’ top priorities?
Gen Z is empowered
According to research by Deloitte, although salary remains the most crucial factor in deciding what job to take, young people value financial reward less than every other generation. It says: “If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen Z was fairly evenly split over the choice.”
Meanwhile, a recent article in The New York Times, entitled “The 37-year-olds are afraid of the 23-year-olds who work for them”, revealed that millennial employers are confronting unique situations with Gen Zs.
“Subtly yet undeniably, as generational shifts tend to go, there’s a new crop of employees determining the norms and styles of the workplace,” it says.
“And they have no qualms about questioning not just emoji use but all the antiquated ways of their slightly older managers, from their views on politics in the office to their very obsession with work.”
“The fact is, Gen Z workers are entering the workforce at a critical time in history – during a global pandemic in a world facing an existential climate crisis – and they have been empowered to express themselves”, says Joanne Bushell, managing director of IWG in South Africa.
IWG is the global operator of leading workspace providers. The company help more than 2.5 million people and their businesses to work more productively by providing a choice of professional, inspiring and collaborative workspaces, communities and services.
“The whole world of work has been turned on its head, with hybrid working increasingly becoming the default way of operating. This means less time in an office alongside colleagues and bosses and more time working from home or in local coworking spaces,” says Bushell.
“Gen Zs’ clear preference for hybrid working will benefit those companies who have either seen the way of travel and are already providing employees with the hybrid option or have hybrid as a key part of their strategy going forward.”
Flexibility is clearly at the top of the Gen Z agenda, as is work-life balance. Still, older employers need to be prepared for new hires to “disrespect’ hierarchy by delegating to senior members of the team or ‘oversharing’ their problems and vulnerabilities.
The key to building successful relationships with young people lies in listening to them and not underestimating their abilities or the value of their opinions.
It’s a brave new world, and young people will bring new vigour to business – so let’s celebrate it.