Corndel’s Workplace Training Report 2023 found that 79% of 16-25-year-olds think that degree apprenticeships and a more direct route to a career will become more popular, particularly in light of the cost of living crisis. Gen Z is the first generation entering the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. This and the other economic challenges we face mean their approach to work and how we support them is markedly different. Understanding Gen Z and creating the workplace they want to be part of is vital to the future success of your business.
Gen Z refers to people born between the mid-to-late 90s and early 2010s; they are the first generation entering the post-pandemic workplace and have many other defining characteristics. The core characteristics of Gen Z employees include:
Gen Z is the first generation that has grown up entirely in the digital age. They are fully digitally literate and true digital natives, adept at using technology and often preferring digital communication over face-to-face interactions.
Gen Z is one of the most diverse generations in history, with many individuals from multicultural backgrounds. This diversity can lead to unique perspectives and approaches to problem-solving in the workplace. The Graduate-Employer Priorities 2023 Report by ISE and Handshake found that 97% of early talent employers consider recruiting a diverse workforce a top priority for 2023. Tapping into Gen Z will be an integral part of this.
Many Gen Z individuals have grown up with the idea that they can create their own businesses and be their own bosses. They value autonomy and independence in their work and are more likely to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Entrepreneurial spirit can transfer effectively to many workplaces as it requires creative thinking, adaptability and intelligence. The Institute of Student Employers found that 48% of Gen Z accept multiple job offers intending to decide later which role they are going to take, further highlighting the business-savvy nature of this demographic.
Gen Z values collaboration and teamwork; they work well in groups and expect to play a role in decision-making within their teams. This is particularly positive for organisations that recognise the value of cross-training and having colleagues across departments trained in key skill areas. It also makes it easy to collaborate across departments.
Gen Z values flexibility highly and can influence whether they’ll accept a job offer. Gen Z employees cite saving money and being happier as key reasons for wanting to work from home in a study published by The Institute of Student Employers. A lack of flexible working can also be a blocker to Gen Z applicants even applying for a role.
The Institute of Student Employers found that concern about the economy doubled in 16–21-year-olds from 15% in 2021 to 39% in 2022; this is further supported by evidence which suggests many are looking at alternative routes to career development and not necessarily considering higher education through university as the most cost-effective route. Considerations such as high inner-city living costs and student loan debt mean Gen Z is being more thoughtful about their options.
Market research company Mintel found that the current inflationary environment and the subsequent rising cost of living have seen Gen Z adopt a more cautious mindset. Due to rising prices, 42% of Gen Z expect to cut back on luxuries and non-essential products.
Employers need to recognise and appreciate the Gen Z mindset when it comes to finance and living costs and could even incorporate relevant incentives into onboarding packages. Offering flexible working to avoid commuting costs, health insurance, and other perks such as gym membership or free lunches can all help to sweeten things for potential Gen Z recruits.
Our Workplace Training Report 2023 found that nearly a fifth (18%) of young people surveyed believe that university will equip them with all the skills needed, which means many are looking to the workplace to provide appropriate training. The ISE Development Survey 2022 is a fantastic resource for understanding the preference and expectations of Gen Z job seekers. Their key findings provide a valuable blueprint for employers looking to attract Gen Z talent, finding that school and college leavers on apprenticeship and workplace training programmes are less likely to leave than graduates within five years of being hired.
Finding creative ways to attract Gen Z talent has to relate back to their key characteristics, such as their preference for collaboration, flexibility and working for companies with a social conscience. The ISE Survey also found how important mental health support is, with 61% of respondents reporting that demand for mental health support increased throughout the pandemic. On average, 17% of all early-career hires sought mental health support at work.
Attracting Gen Z is about more than offering the highest possible salary; rather, creating a package that appeals to the many characteristics that typify Gen Z employees and their expectations from a good employer.
Diversity is one of the core characteristics of the Gen Z workforce, and championing diversity in your business should be a priority. Gen Z are social campaigners who actively seek to make the world fairer, including developing diverse hiring practices and more equality in recruitment processes. The Everyone Economy from The Chartered Institute of Management highlights the importance of diversity for organisations that want to develop talent effectively. It found that organisations with greater gender diversity are 1.4 times more likely to enjoy sustained, profitable growth.
Diversity goes beyond gender, as Gen Z make up 30% of the world’s population, and by 2025 they will make up 27% of the world’s workforce, creating a much more diverse and varied work environment than we see today. Providing a welcoming and open environment for all people from all backgrounds has to be prioritised as Gen Z has become a significant portion of the entire working population.
Gen Z is the first generation to enter the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated the trend towards remote work, increased flexibility and work-life balance, and empathy in the workplace, but also the potential for isolation and burnout. Many workplaces are now operating on a hybrid model, and this can bridge the best of both worlds.
Furthermore, as the wealth of skills an individual needs to succeed increases, future workplaces will be driven by what Deloitte describes as “the Renaissance figure”. These multi-talented individuals will have many talents and areas of expertise, from the technological native norm of Gen Z employees to enhanced data skills, business management and design capabilities too.
Finding and developing employees with such varied skillset may seem like a challenge. Still, with the natural predisposition of many Gen Z employees to embrace and seek out learning, this may not be the case.
You cannot underestimate the importance many Gen Z employees put on their career development and learning opportunities. Gen Z values continuous learning and development. They are more likely to seek out new skills and training opportunities. Our Workplace Training Report 2023 found that 76% of employees aged 16-34 would consider leaving their role if they didn’t receive the professional development support they need.
Providing Gen Z employees with a structured career path with plenty of valuable development opportunities will be well received. Training and development programmes can be tailored to the employee’s needs, with various elements from coaching and mentoring to self-directed learning combined to deliver a programme that works. Recruiting early talent directly into the organisation through Degree Apprenticeships is also a way of shaping talent according to business needs whilst providing personalised on-the-job learning.
Attracting and retaining a Gen Z workplace is about understanding their needs and finding effective ways to meet each one. In the current economic climate, Gen Z is looking for employers that care and support them in times of difficulty and may offer incentives and support packages to add value and help them manage the cost of living. Flexibility is highly important, and incorporating some home working for financial and other reasons should not be discounted. Invest in tech solutions to make their working lives easier and prioritise inclusivity and diversity in all aspects of the business wherever you can.
Gen Z is driven by opportunities and the chance to develop, so offering highly structured training programmes that offer a clear route to promotion and further opportunities will always be welcomed. Corndel’s Degree Apprenticeship programmes, delivered by Corndel College London, are specifically designed with your early talent in mind. Designed to solve skills shortages within your organisation and keep your best talent focused and committed to your company, our Degree Apprenticeships in Business Management and Data are fully funded by your Apprenticeship Levy and align higher education with industry needs and innovation to fill the UK’s skills gaps.
Investing in your Gen Z employees’ future is an investment in the future success of your business, and finding ways to meet their needs should be a high priority for all businesses.