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How will Generation Z disrupt the workplace?

May 22, 2015

Over the past few years, the millennial workforce conversation has taken center stage in the media. While this group will be in the workforce for at least 30 more years, there is a new generation on deck causing prospective employers to take notice: Generation Z. Getting ready to step up to the plate, Gen Z will be just as focused and driven as millennials, however, their definition of a “good employer” will vary in some important areas.

Generation Z is classified as those who were born in the mid-90s to early ‘00s. Much like the generation before them, Gen Z is driven, but according to the recent 2015 Way To Work survey by Adecco Staffing USA, their aspirations differ from those of millennials. Despite the stigma around millennial workers feeling entitled, many aspire to be financially stable, a desire that may likely be tied to them entering the workforce in the deepest part of the recession. Gen Z, however, is focused on their dream job. In fact, the majority (32%) of Gen Z surveyed stated their greatest aspiration is to be in their dream job within 10 years from now.

They don’t expect finding a job to be easy though, as many of today’s students (32%) report finding a job as their top concern. Student debt is on the list as well, with 21% of those surveyed being most concerned about the cost of education and the lasting financial impact it can have on their future. In fact, more than half (53%) of current students report that student loan debt is a major consideration in their schooling and career decisions. In spite of this concern, many students (36%) are more focused on the opportunity for growth rather than salary when it comes to their first job.

While many businesses are touting friendly workplace cultures with flexible schedules and transparent salaries in order to lure talent, they may need to offer more career focused perks instead for Gen Z. Today’s college students ranked opportunity for career growth as the most important aspect of their first job (36%) followed by fulfilling work (19%) and stability (19%). Friendly work environments (10%), flexible schedules (7%), and the highest salary (6%) rank lower in priority. To attract the right talent, organizations will have to show how they can help their employees reach their most important career goals.

Yet perhaps the biggest obstacle will be retaining these employees. Any company is susceptible to losing talent if employees aren’t engaged in the work they do or committed to the organization they work for. With Gen Z in particular, job hopping could be a major concern as 83% of today’s students believe that three years or less is the appropriate amount of time to spend at their first job. Furthermore, over a quarter (27%) of students believe you should stay at your first job for a year or less. By providing effective and frequent training, as well as professional development opportunities, employers can help their greatest assets--their employees--find a niche within the company and maintain a high level of engagement and retention.

Encouraging professional development opportunities outside the office can also be beneficial. Giving your employees the opportunity to attend career-focused conferences and expos allows them to step out of their comfort zone, network with other professionals, and bring their learnings back to the organization.

Job shadowing is another way to give employees well-rounded training. Allowing employees to shadow their colleagues in other departments is an easy way for them to learn new skills. It will also give them a greater understanding of the company as a whole and encourage growth within the organization.

Without question, Gen Z has big aspirations for the future and are motivated to climb the ladder. Knowing professional development and growth opportunities are essential to their success, Gen Z will prioritize companies that are engaging and encouraging over those that are not. By appealing to Gen Z’s desire to learn while offering opportunities for substantial growth, employers can successfully attract and retain the next generation of talent stepping up to the plate.

Bob Crouch is the CEO of Adecco Group North America.

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