Re-Imagining “The Great Reshuffle” In The Workplace With Gen Z

Re-Imagining “The Great Reshuffle” In The Workplace With Gen Z

by Sanjay Desai Talent Advisory | SCM Consulting | Speaker | Writer | Mentor

 

The past couple of years have been difficult for professionals, young and old professionals alike. While certain age groups may be less vulnerable to the health hazards of COVID-19, we are all in the same boat with similar possibilities of getting infected at any point. According to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research – Chicago, whilst older professionals are more susceptible to virus infections, younger professionals are equally exposed. As well as concerns on a senior in their home getting infected.

The survey states that Gen Z feel the stresses of the pandemic more than any other age group. Nearly half of those in the Gen Z age group said the pandemic had made their schooling and career aspirations tougher. It was even more difficult to maintain ties with their friends during this time.


By their intrinsic nature, Gen Z really care. They are passionate about social issues like maintaining a good heath care system, higher education and Mental health including opportunities for higher education in good schools. This is illustrated in a comparison with the other 2 Gen’s.

WHAT IS GENERATION Z?

Generation Z (also known as iGen, Zoomers, or Centennials) refers to those who are born during years 1997-2012. Soon these newbies will exceed Millennials as the largest generation on earth, with more than a third of the world’s population already counted as Gen Z and by 2030. These professionals will account for more than 32% of Global Workforce. We can also say that they are the first fully global generation, shaped in the 21st century, connected through digital devices, and engaged through social media. A look at generation table, will give us a perspective of the age group that I am focussing on today.

THE NEW DISRUPTORS ON THE HORIZON

Millennials were the first generation to disrupt traditional ways of working and introduce a more purposeful approach. While flexibility increased as technology accelerated throughout the 2010s, business cultures of presenteeism and profit persisted.

Year 2022 brings in a new era in office / social Professionalism further accentuated by Covid-19 in the last 24 months.

 

THE DIGITAL NATIVES

Unlike any other cohort before them, Gen Z are natives to technology. They are like fish to water. Their formative years are guided more by technology rather than tradition, cultural or rudimentary closed door education system. They do not believe in traditional working models anymore. The born “entrepreneurs” A recent (2021) survey conducted jointly by EY and JA Worldwide spoke to more than 6000 Gen Z youth – 55% hope to run their own business after 2-3 years of an initial work stint. This mind conditioning is a factor of Gen Z’s non-belief in traditional pathways of career success – consistent reduction in Start-Up costs and a newfound community of Angel Investors ready to invest in start-ups.

 

THE “CONNECTING DOTS” GENERATION.

As a generation born with the confluence of internet, technology and modern values, Gen Z are more comfortable with finding, defining, and connecting dots on their own. And because of these abilities, Gen Z are better able to apply these skills in their social, professional, and daily life.

THE “RISK” TAKING GENERATION

In the last decade, with decreasing trade barriers internationally and increasing thrust on developing collaborative value chains across borders, it is relatively easy to open a marketplace, build a marketing portal, collaborate with suppliers, and start doing your own business in less than a week in almost any geography in the world. Gen Z believe they are solution masters, and they are willing to take risks, which is like the approach “Shoot / Adjust the target and shoot again till you get it right.

AVERSE TO TRADITIONAL PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS

Another key driver for Gen Z’s behaviour is their lack of trust in traditional pathways to success as enjoyed by previous generations. Gen Z do not necessarily follow that the education is the ONLY core of career growth especially after a few economic debacles like 2008 financial crisis, the Japan nuclear crisis and the tsunami.

OPEN-MINDED AND DEDICATED TO SOCIAL CAUSE

Gen Z have a strong desire for progressive leaderships. They passionately support social / environmental and diversity related causes. These social aspects have been talking points over the last 30 years. Gen Z feel that the previous generations did a lot of “lip-service” without much action on the ground.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ORGANISATIONS AND EMPLOYERS?

  • This generation will be difficult to entice, train and recruit in traditional roles.
  • Organisations need to create and environment wherein the Gen Z professional thrive.
  • Organisation need to provide higher autonomy, flexibility and well as higher ownership in terms of decision making, location where Gen Z work as well as the function they run.
  • Organisational leadership need to change their ways and allow their workforce to be more entrepreneurial, be more creative and take higher responsibility and accountability for their actions.
  • When it comes to a few major social issues, do some serious thinking. Create roadmaps, projects, and actions instead of doing a lot of talking.

 

HOW ORGANISATIONS NEED TO WORK WITH THE “GREAT RESHUFFLE” OVER 5 YEARS!!

Gen Z will soon surpass Millennial as the most popular generation on the earth with their impact. Companies and businesses alike need to understand this new generation of tech fluid workers. They will form the bulk of the workforce in coming years. How then can organisations attract, hire, and retain this new breed of professionals?

a. CLEAR HUMAN RELATIONS STRATEGY IN PLACE.

Organisation must have a clear human relations strategy to attract, hire and retain Gen Z. Every change and new reality bring new data into the game which creates a change reaction within the organisation. This will encompass long range career planning goals, res-skilling/ upscaling requirements with technology playing a greater part in it. This change will force HR leaderships to adopt new thinking and make way for old policies to change, that enable the new generation professionals to rise and do well.

b. FLEXIBLE AND CREATIVE OPTIONS TO WORKPLACE

Recent disruptive events have re-shaped the way employees and employers perceive their workplace. Many employees are not willing to go back to office to work especially if they have long commuting times. This is especially more applicable to emerging markets, which are also thickly populated countries. The way people approach work and office, post-pandemic, is definitely undergoing a fundamental change. Be it total work from home or hybrid work culture, change is inevitable. Taking a cue from this new information, organisation need to be more creative & innovative to bring new remote-work options, and time-off benefits and change for a better environment. As digital natives, Gen Z are agile enough to adapt to this new reality.

c. PASSION DRIVEN WORK ENVIRONMENT

A recent study by Deloitte, shows remote working has increased productivity by 13% and fostered trust amongst employers and employees cohesively. Organisation are now realising that the best way to combat dissatisfaction and stress is to provide employees enough work-from-home opportunities, trust them more and let them rejuvenate to get the desired effect. When people are driven by passion and inspiration to work each day, the work does not seem like an effort, it becomes enjoyment.

d. OPPORTUNITIES FOR SKILLING AND RE-SKILLING

Gen Z being very hard working and native to learning new skills, like broad opportunities to sharpen their skills and take on new leadership positions. As organisations adapt to this evolutionary workforce, creating up-skilling programs with tangible focus on personal growth and development becomes quintessential. To the extend, that the HR policies need to reflect this desired mix of soft / hard and technical skills.

e. INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY

Gen Z are known to be particular about “equal opportunity” or equality in workplace. Organizations need to be more forward-thinking and respectful of this spectrum of diverse genders, abilities, and races to attract / retain the Gen Z talent. Organisation need to demonstrate a real value and commitment to listen to Gen Z and make sure that inclusion and diversity is being followed as an on-going process and not just remain on paper presentations for Annual Reporting purpose to shareholders.

f. BETTER SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ETHOS


Gen Z are known to be very vocal and demonstrate great empathy towards societal challenges. They are driven by social / environmental, and diversity related causes and they take a lot of pride in working directly to provide solutions to these. Gen Z expect organizations and their leadership to be more socially responsible, have a cultural ethos that addresses these issues upfront and accountable. Organisations should play to this cause in a genuine manner and create an environment where these issues are addressed as part of their DNA.

g. FULFIL THE PROMISE OF PURPOSEFUL WORK

For Gen Z both as employees and consumers of a product, empathic and authentic commitment by organisational leadership is key. To attract Gen Z talent, Organisation will need to authentically commit to business & people development goals, making it a management strategy which will foster trust by communicating targets, actions and progress that are backed by data. Given how quickly roles are changing, employers need new recruiting approaches based on skills and aptitude rather than on resumes and experience.

h. SUSTAINABILITY AS A COMPETITIVE STRATEGY

To build and sustain relationships with this new generation of environmentally conscious consumers, employees and investors, organizations need to adopt sustainable operating practices and authentically showcase their positive environmental credentials. The sustainability exercise should not remain in the board room as discussion agenda but needs to be executed and monitored regularly making Gen Z an integral part of the responsibility matrix.

j. THE STRUGGLE IS TO BUILD SOCIAL CAPITAL

Imagine for many Gen Z in last 30 months, they may have walked straight into a lockdown period, which means they are bereft of any direct office experience. Leaders have a tough task on how to get these talents together to rebuild the workplace culture in a hybrid manner which is possibly the highest success factor for the organisations. The underlining problem for Gen Z (In current situation) is building social capital and somehow Organisations need to figure out a way how to create social capital in a remote environment. Gen Z are willing to learn new projects, join management initiatives as these interactions help them to reinforce their sense of purpose / motivation to work hard and take on new roles. Organisations need to listen to these young talents and create focused programmes like On-boarding orientation, Executive mentoring, and Leadership excellence etc.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

While the age and generational gaps are obvious, the differences are none other than how generations approach their day-to-day stuff. Especially evident on the personal and professional front. Everyone has similar expectations of Money, Fame, Status and Security. While the starting and ending points are not so vastly dis-similar, the connecting bridges are too afar and may be too diverse.

From watching their parents lose jobs, seeing the world economic crash and climate change, Gen Z have seen the worst of it and been through it all. In fact, this generation is embarking on a career amidst a global pandemic scenario which looks like never ending. Gen Z’s middling sense of preparedness for the future indicates that more could be done to equip them with the confidence, skills and knowledge needed for future success.

The successful companies of tomorrow will be the ones stepping up to ensure all of their employees have the freedom to work as they want on the causes; they are passionate about. Opportunities for innovation abound and the first step for Organisations is to listen and respond to the voices of Gen Z.

By driving for collaborative change in how the global organisations engage the next generation, we can shape the lives of millions of Gen Z in the next decade. In the world beyond the pandemic, business leaders will need to focus on the preferences and expectations of the pandemic generation. The rest will be a reminder of a bygone age.About the Author” heading_tag=”h5″ alignment=”left”]

Sanjay Desai – Talent Advisory | SCM Consulting | Speaker | Writer | Mentor

Sanjay holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Postgraduate in Materials Management from premier Indian business school. He is a Certified Logistics Professional from The Logistics Society, Singapore. He is a certified CPIM practitioner from APICS, USA. He has completed formal Executive Leadership courses at INSEAD, Singapore.
Sanjay runs Talent Development & Executive Placements in supply chain ecosystem across Asia Region based in Singapore. He sits as an Advisory Board Member for multiple start-up & small & medium businesses in Asia. He is an honorary Life Member for Institute of Directors (IOD) India. He serves as an Overseas Advisory Member on the board of SME Chambers, India.
Sanjay has a diverse career in world class supply chain verticals for MNC’s – VeriFone Inc, Huntsman Inc, ThermoFisher Scientific, JohnsonDiversey, DELL Global, Apple Inc, ExxonMobil, MOTUL Lubricants, Rhone-Poulence Rorer & UniLever.

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