How to prepare for the next Generation in the workplace: Gen Z

Photo by  Baim Hanif  on  Unsplash

Photo by Baim Hanif on Unsplash

Ready or Not - Here they come: Gen Z!

So much is written and said on Millennials at the workplace and there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to understanding the needs and ambitions of a Gen Z who were born after 1995. But are they really so different?

Early this week, I had the privilege to join the Hong Kong Graduate Employers panel discussion with university representatives from UK, US and Hong Kong to get a view from experts about the difference between the #Millennials and #GenZ and how employers need to revamp their conventional talent recruitment practices.

What are the differences between Millennials and Gen Zs?

Generally speaking both - Millennials and Gen Zs - strive to find a meaningful job where their values are aligned with the company's values and culture with a high emphasis on flexibility and support from their managers through regular feedback and honest engagements.

8 Key Differences between Millennials and Gen Z

How can companies better prepare to effectively integrate Gen Z into the workforce?

During the panel discussion, I reflected on following key insights:

Insight 1: Gen Z (and certainly some Millennials are equally guilty) do not follow up on their commitments i.e. they don't show up to networking events organized by employers or resign shortly after joining.

My 2 cents: In this digital age, we have access to a vast amount of information and opportunities that commitment may not be valued as much as before. It helps to explain the negative implications of their behavior through coaching.

Insight 2: Employers want to hire a diverse workforce and not necessarily someone who has studied the traditional discipline one might expect for the role.

My 2 cents: I have started off my corporate career in Finance despite not being a Finance degree holder. As one of the panel speakers pointed out, it is important that during recruitment roadshows to showcase a successful senior leader of the organization as a great example to advocate that employers hire more for attitude rather than aptitude.

Insight 3: Companies should start engaging with students earlier for example by offering internships to students who aren't graduating yet.

My 2 cents: Being educated in Germany, I was lucky to have gone through internships in the 9th and 10th Grade to experience the "real" work life (leadership, work etiquette, collaboration etc.). As such, I could determine at an early age that pursuing a career in the hotel industry may not be the right fit. One of my Gen Z mentees, a high school graduate in Hong Kong, is currently going through an internship and I am always delighted to observe how this exposure impacted her social skills positively. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for companies to start engaging with their future talents at an early stage by providing internships to high school students?

Are companies focusing enough on the inter-generational integration of the workforce?

Gen Z isn’t the only generational change we need to anticipate in our work lives, but we need to start considering how to engage them more effectively as this generation will come into the workforce. It's better sooner than later that we start looking into how to effectively handle the generational changes in an organization and leverage on strengths from all generations instead of creating barriers.

How is your company preparing to welcome the new generation into the workplace? 

10 ways to prepare for Gen Z in the workplace