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Preparing for Generation Z in the workplace

30th Aug 17 1:02 pm

Here’s what you need to know

As thousands of 16 to 18-year olds received their GSCE and A-Level results this August, we’re seeing the start of Generation Z getting ready to enter the workforce en masse.

However, many UK businesses are not prepared for them to start work, with a number of organisations struggling to attract and retain top talent from the younger pool of workers. From failing to provide the latest technology that enables flexible working, to rigidly sticking to more traditional hierarchies, some businesses are actively putting off Gen-Z candidates.

While some say young people entering the workplace need to toughen up and get used to the way things have always worked, this simply isn’t good business practice.

Some of the brightest minds are being lost by large corporations to small, agile start-ups that can offer the flexibility, work-life balance, and fulfilment that many in Gen-Z feel are lacking in the bigger companies. So, if businesses want to attract top talent from this new generation entering the workplace, it’s business leaders that will need to adapt.

Establish a collaborative atmosphere

Generation Z are known as being digitally native – they have grown up with a phenomenal amount of information at their fingertips thanks to the internet. When translated into a professional environment, this means they are put off by closed door cultures and fixed hierarchies based on age rather than knowledge.

Collaboration is king in today’s digital landscape, and Gen Z thrive in open, peer-to-peer based environments that promote transparency and continuous feedback.

According to a study by Randstad, a global HR specialist, 38 per cent of Gen Z and millennials put being able to collaborate in the workplace at the top of attributes that enable them to work productively. To attract and more importantly keep top Gen Z talent, business leaders need to create open and collaborative cultures that rewards based on merit not time spent in a company.

Ensure you have the latest technology

As digital natives, the newest recruits entering the workplace from Gen Z will expect to have the latest technology either provided by employers or have the appropriate infrastructure available for them to use their own hardware during working hours.

Working on a Mac as opposed to a PC is still very much a personal preference, and for many new recruits, being given the option of which they would like to work on will benefit their productivity.

The business benefits from personalising technology offerings for employees are simple – improved productivity leads to more motivated staff and ultimately stronger bottom lines. Ensuring technology is kept up to date across the whole company will also mean that new communication platforms can be rolled out seamlessly and efficiently.

Both Gen Z and older generations will be accustomed to using platforms like Slack and iMeet to stay in touch with colleagues during the working week.

Implement agile working policies

Research from the Smarter Working Initiative has found that 70 per cent of new workers say being able to work flexibly makes a job prospect significantly more attractive to them. The rise in readily available internet access and portable devices like laptops and tablets has opened a door to a truly agile workforce. Gone are the days when staff must be in a physical office, enduring long and costly commutes to sit at a fixed desk every day.

As Gen Z enter the workforce, they will gravitate towards companies that offer flexible working policies from the outset and understand the benefits that smarter working can bring to all involved.

Progressive companies who are looking to hire from this talent pool will know that enabling staff to utilise technology to work remotely at a time, and in a place, that suits them best is a sure-fire way to improve productivity.

There are those who are reticent to implementing flexible working practices, however employees should always work with managers to establish trust and communication channels in order to get the most out of flexible working.

The latest generation are without a doubt considerably different compared to any previous generations – from attitudes towards technology, perspectives on workplace structures and approach to work itself.

However, this should inspire companies to innovate and evolve, recruiting new talent that can drive the business forward in this technologically driven world.

There is no one way to prepare for Generation Z entering the workforce, but harnessing the latest technologies and implementing flexible working policies along with creating an open, collaborative workforce are all positive steps in the right direction.

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