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Zeroing in on Gen Z

How can companies attract and retain the next generation to join the global workforce?

The importance of meeting the needs of Millennials, or Gen Y, has captured a lot of attention in recent years. But, there is already new demographic on the horizon, with its own dreams and desires - Gen Z.

According to a report1 by the Gen Y research and consulting firm, Millennial Branding, the Gen Z personnel that will soon be joining the workforce are looking for something different from an employer than their predecessors. Not adapting to meet these needs could pose a challenge for businesses as they seek to attract and retain young talent.

First things first

For example, getting them to work for you in the first place is going to be more difficult. The report noted that Gen Z has a stronger entrepreneurial spirit, with many more of them wanting to start a business and hire their own employees, even compared to Gen Y.

Throwing money at them won’t work either. Only a quarter of Gen Z respondents (28%) said that money would motivate them to work harder and stay with their employer longer. But, when asked the same question, some 42% of Gen Y said more money would make a difference.

Keeping Gen Z employees will also be tougher. Both Gen Z and Y groups expect to work for a number of companies during their careers and anticipate switching jobs more frequently. However, while Gen Y respondents plan to work for up to four firms, Gen Z anticipates working for at least five!

Opportunity knocks

Of course, changing expectations means there might be an opportunity to build loyalty by addressing the specific factors that are driving each generation.

For about a third of Gen Z (34%), that motivator is the chance of advancement. Almost as many Gen Zers (27%) appreciate the offer of more money, while a significant number (23%) enjoy doing what they consider to be “meaningful” work. The Gen Y picture is a little different. The majority of them are moved by money (38%) or advancement (30%), with just 15% mentioning meaningful work.

Clearly, there is potential to influence perceptions by eliminating, or possibly outsourcing, the more tedious tasks, so that employees can focus on rewarding work. A strong and clearly communicated focus on career development can also pay dividends in terms of keeping younger team members engaged.

Tech talks               

Speaking personally, I was disappointed to discover that having a good boss was one of the least important factors for both groups (7%). And working for a fast-growing company came in even lower (6%).

However, on the positive side, the study showed that about 80% of Gen Z and Gen Y enjoy using technology to help them achieve their goals. That is good news for companies that are “going digital” and creating a flexible working environment.

While implementing technologies such as unified communications (UC) tools may be driven by the need to elevate customer service, increase productivity or support remote workers, there are hidden benefits for businesses as well. Technology that enhances rather than inhibits the work day can also contribute to increased employee satisfaction and better long-term employee engagement – especially among Gen Z and Gen Y team members.

ShoreTel is a good example of that philosophy in action. As well as using our own, industry-leading UC offering, we are also technology agnostic in that employees can choose the computer they are most comfortable with – a Windows PC or Mac – and whatever mobile device they prefer.

This kind of flexibility says a lot to any prospective employee, regardless of generation. It conveys right off the bat that we care about enabling employees to operate in an environment that is personalized and supports their productivity. But, it speaks volumes to Gen Z. The majority of them (61%) cited managers listening to their, and valuing their opinions, as one of the most important workplace factors.

When it comes to doing that, technology can be a relatively simple place to start thanks to the flexibility and integration capabilities of today’s business solutions. And, who knows, maybe it will even help to get the “good boss” factor into double digits! 

Frederic Gillant Photo

Frederic Gillant  joined ShoreTel in 2014 as vice president and managing director for Asia Pacific. Based in Singapore, Gillant leads ShoreTel’s go-to-market strategy across Asia Pacific managing the sales, channels, marketing and sales operations for the region. Other recent articles by Frederic are listed below:

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