A 2021 Pearson Global Learner Survey conducted with college students across four countries, found that 80% of the students say their generation has become more resilient in the face of the challenges presented by the pandemic. While the past two years have compelled all of us to rethink the way we work, learn and live, watershed moments such as the Great Resignation and massive job losses globally serve as indicators of an urgent need for paradigm shift in attracting, nurturing and retaining top talent.
Generation Z (also referred to as Zoomers) holds the key to how an organisation can reshape its employee value proposition (EVP) keeping the workforce of the future in mind. As the first digitally native generation starts to permeate the workforce, they remind us all of the fact that they are not afraid to challenge existing norms and to bring into focus the values that drive them.
With perceptible changes in employee needs that have accelerated in the past 2 years, organisations are now in a better position to offer EVPs that are aligned to what employees, particularly young employees, are looking for – an open work culture, work-life balance, diversity and inclusion, and meaningful work. The top-down approach that has been the norm so far at many organisations is not the space where young talent is willing to thrive. They want acceptance, freedom and flexibility at their workplace, and want to be seen and valued as individuals who bring unique and diverse perspectives to the table.
A shifting worldview and new way forward
Gen Z’s worldview is now partly influenced by the disruptive force of the pandemic, and they want to work with cs that reflect their drive for activism, social advocacy and powering real and positive change in the world. The first step towards attracting the right kind of talent that will charter the course with the organisation begins with mapping out clearly defined roles and purposes, opportunities for skill development and a commitment to developing an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace.
Many organisations have already adapted their offerings to their present and prospective employees through long-term strategies such as adequate scope for movement internally, providing platforms for growth and learning, opportunities that focus specifically on sustained career growth and development opportunities for aspiring leaders. organisations should also invest more in future-ready skills by offering targeted internal programs, and by facilitating higher education of their employees, as Gen Z is continually on the lookout for learning opportunities that present new challenges.
Keeping people at the center of policies with regard to flexible and remote working options is also vital to attracting and retaining younger employees that strive for a better work-life balance. Being well-versed in the tools available to connect and work with others virtually, Gen Z is more comfortable when they are allowed the flexibility to work from anywhere, as opposed to working only from the office.
A work environment that is non-hierarchical in nature, with opportunities and platforms to speak up and be heard, is highly desirable to a generation that is empathetic and socially conscious. Employees want to have a say in things that matter, and a larger shared purpose to contribute to that aligns their personal causes with their career trajectories. And, with the younger generations entering the workforce, there is more emphasis on feeling assured that they will not be judged or penalized for speaking their mind. Creating a space for open and free communication where informal chats with managers and top leadership are welcomed goes a long way in inculcating the level of trust Zoomers look for in potentially long-term engagements. The best ideas emerge from interactions that happen in these kinds of spaces.
Unlocking and nurturing the potential of “Generation Resilient”
Gen Z employees are highly engaged with the world around them, and are inclined to treat work as an outcome of their effort. They have had to adapt fast to learning from both traditional and non-traditional sources, and a view towards skill opportunities rather than skill gaps. They have also taken the time to discover, define and redefine themselves as the need arises, and are staunch advocates of the need for equality in every space. organisations that recognize these traits in their younger employees would do well to shape their employee value propositions to champion this commitment to the continuous learning journey and lead with empathy.
This generation of young, resilient and self-driven individuals is clear and vocal about its need for work-life balance and appreciates workplaces that allow employees to pursue their passion outside of their day-to-day responsibilities, while having fun and solidifying relationships in the process. Employee resource groups are a great platform for employees to come together to connect, develop new skills, and directly impact their causes and their communities. More importantly, organisations need to equip their leaders with the skills necessary to lead a generation that is outspoken and would not be inspired or motivated by the old ways of traditional management methods. This means that there is a need to be more hands-on in terms of providing constant, creative challenges and engaging with Gen Z employees on their unique, personal progress in their careers.
Culture, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are all important pillars for organisations that are keen on releasing the potential of their employees and empowering them to bring their authentic selves to work. At Dell Technologies, we believe in walking the talk and some of our programs such as RISE that focuses on career growth of women, or ‘Be the Change’ where senior leaders participate in open forums have instilled the confidence in our team members that Dell Technologies cares and respects their personal needs.
Gen Z talent is well positioned to drive positive, lasting change in the workforce and for the world, and it is up to the organisations of today and the future to enable this change through their young employees.