Understanding the future workforce: GenZ and their inherent qualities

Yesterday, I got a message from my friend about his son quitting his first job only a few months after joining. I was astonished by his actions! Back in our day, I remember employees staying in one organisation till they retired, or mostly so. Later that day, while reading an article in The Economic Times, a headline snatched my attention: Around 70% of Gen Z in India would likely switch jobs this year. This generation doesn’t seem to be staying in one place for too long. They skip songs halfway, hopping back and through to the same apps and browser tabs, yet are not able to decide which mobile device they want to use at any given time.

Research suggests that by the year 2025, three-quarters of the global workforce will consist of Gen Z professionals. This shows how important it will be for organisations to invest, grow and retain this workforce to simply sustain in the corporate world. While embracing Gen Z might be a concern, understanding their inherent qualities and building strategies upon those will yield impressive results for organisations.

1. Warriors with an Entrepreneurial mindset.

According to The Centre for Generational Kinetics and commissioned by WP Engine, 91% of Gen Zers plan to start their own business sometime in the future. This doesn’t mean that they want to become entrepreneurs in the near future, but it rather highlights that this generation has a strong entrepreneurial mindset.

This generation has grown up watching businesses evolve and witnessing the ramifications of the infamous Great Resignation phase. They expect a high degree of independence and autonomy in whatever environment they are in and growing up with them. With their entrepreneurial zeal, organisations can foster the mindset of making things happen and collaborate to increase innovation and thrive in the future.

2. Feedback oriented

97% of Gen Z prefers feedback on an ongoing basis or after completing a large project or task. Gen Z values frequent check-ins and continuous feedback on how they are faring and on their ability to contribute to their surroundings. This younger generation prefers frequent analysis rather than the annual, quarterly, and monthly performance analysis as they seek feedback aligned with the fluctuation of the marketplace. Added to this is the feeling of being reassured by their work group and not just the line superiors in the hierarchy. This reinforced the need for a supportive culture of “peer review”.

Continuous feedback, as above, within organisations not only makes them feel engaged but also helps to build the bridge to excellence. With this being their imbibed trait, organisations that embrace continuous feedback mechanisms from multiple sources, will foster stronger teams, thereby increasing efficiency and productivity across operations.

3. FAAR - a new acronym for Gen Zs

Gen Zs comes with a full-fledged package of qualities that will shape the future of the workplace, among which flexibility, agility, accountability and resilience rank higher. From the spread of social media to growing in an environment of the impermanence of things, not to forget the recent emergence of Great Resignation, the Gen Zers have adapted well by taking initiative, being accountable for their actions, thriving in the agile environments and questioning the status quo to identify if there is any better way thereby displaying openness and resilience for change. They value freedom of individual expression & actions, avoid labels and encourage collaborative learning by being flexible in their approach.

These four factors—an emphasis on being accountable, prioritising flexible work conditions, and being agile and resilient—show a natural alignment between Gen Zs’ work habits and their working styles and the factors that influence their job preferences and job hops. Internalising these orientations to work and life holds the key for organisations to sustain and succeed in the days ahead.

4. Most disruptive generation ever!

Around 91% of this generation view technological sophistication as a defining factor in choosing a particular workspace. A Bank of America report describes Gen Z as the “most disruptive generation ever,” due not only to their technological savviness but also to their focus on sustainability and activism. They have an individualistic, realistic, and competitive mindset and have evolved the skills to successfully defy the norm.

Increasingly, the need to work to earn a livelihood and provide for their family is not guiding their career pursuits. In a way, they live to work rather than work to live, not to suggest that work is the be-all and end-all of life for them. Options galore, coupled with a keen desire to be on their own or at least work in an atmosphere where they have greater flexibility to decide on what to work on and how to navigate it. This disruptive mindset will lead organisations to build a workplace that can foster flexibility, change, and be agile at a rapid speed that is much needed for them to thrive in an ever changing and highly competitive landscape. This more than ever warrants the design of a “Work-Place of ONE”.

5. Stands for social changes

Gen Zs are known to be great agents of social change. A majority of Gen Zers believe that the world is at a tipping point on key societal issues, such as climate change, inequality, racism, and discrimination. They make a conscious effort to influence social change by taking initiatives themselves rather than depending on the government or social order to change itself.

When confronted with critical societal issues, Gen Zers direct their energies toward meaningful actions such as driving change on the issues that are most important to them. In organisations, they relate to issues of diversity and inclusion, freedom of involvement with social media, even on matters concerning their workplace and company policies, de-structured systems/hierarchies etc. They are restless and want things to happen – no status quo. Organisations that follow their lead and share their vision to support them in their efforts to build a more equitable, sustainable world will definitely come out on top.

So, the real question lies in whether this generation consists of only runners? Yes, they are runners, but not from responsibilities. Family responsibilities may not be a top priority, but a successful career is. They’re running for the right opportunity. This generation is more factual about their needs and doesn’t hesitate to take appropriate steps to meet them. Understanding this new generation’s traits and preferences will help organisations create a culture that plays to their strengths and makes their organisations an attractive option to get associated with.

A burning question for leaders rises as to how they can retain and attract this generation to thrive successfully in the future. Understanding their unique needs within your organisation will be required to foster a healthy and happy workforce. In our next article, we will learn more about this youngest generation in today’s workforce and what they expect from their employers.

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