With Gen Z making up around 20 percent of the global workforce and growing year on year, employers cannot ignore what this age group values most in the workplace. As a generation of entrepreneurial, digital natives, they are not typically swayed by a few elevated figures on a wage slip, nor the hollow ‘perks’ of pizza parties and beanbags in a modern office.
Instead, some things appear to drive Gen Zs more at work than any preceding generation and that is growth, value and purpose.
A report by ThoughtExchange surveyed Gen Z workers and found that 96 percent think it’s ‘important to feel valued, included, and empowered at work’. It also showed that 80 percent ‘prefer a job that allows them to explore and grow various skillsets, rather than a job that is focused on a particular set of skills’. In addition to this, career coaches at Indeed tried to distill the Gen Z workforce into a certain set of characteristics.
Among their notable qualities are a willingness to ‘embrace change’ and ‘value flexibility’. The takeaway from all of this is that if employers cannot meet these needs and foster environments that nurture common Gen Z characteristics, they cannot expect to retain these employees.
Why meaningfulness matters
In order to tap into value, empowerment, growth, change and flexibility, one overarching theme to look out for is the concept of ‘mattering’.
When discussing what ‘mattering’ means in a work context, I consider the definition to be two-fold. At its core it is about employees feeling valued and appreciated by their team, managers, and the business as a whole. But on the other hand, ‘mattering’ also extends from the person as a worker, to what they do for work.
They want to feel that their skills, knowledge and output are making a difference or doing something meaningful. So how do you, as managers and business owners, help your employees achieve this? More than this, how can you specifically apply the solution to Gen Z?
Taking training beyond skills development
It might feel natural to first look to practical issues. Making employees feel valued through team shoutouts, staff bonding, and excellent benefits seem like natural steps to promoting good well-being and the idea of ’mattering’. But you can take this one step further through your Learning and Development (L&D) strategies.
It might seem obvious that L&D is a requirement for a successful workplace. After all you need to train your staff so they can do their jobs effectively. But upskilling employees goes beyond the practical benefits. It adds towards personal self-esteem and perceived output quality.
Something that Gen Zs place great value in, with 76 percent of Gen Zs believing that learning is the key to a successful career according to LinkedIn. That being said, the solution isn’t as simple as offering everyone an unlimited range of training options. It’s about personalisation and bespoke L&D options.
Redesigning learning strategies for Gen Zs
We need to look particularly into methods of training that suit this highly digitally literate age group so like them, we need to get creative. Think virtual reality, augmented reality, blended learning, artificial intelligence, mobile-first learning approaches, and most importantly make sure every option can be done online.
Gamifying L&D is another avenue to explore for a social media generation that tends to crave instantaneous praise and information, as well as being able to share that with others. There is no one-size-fits-all solution which is why it’s important to work with training providers to create bespoke onboarding and training without forgetting the audience in question.
Building upon this training is the key to Gen Z company loyalty, by offering growth in their own field as well as allowing them to make diagonal moves within the organisation. A recent survey of over 1,000 Gen Zs found that 75 percent believe they should receive a promotion within their first year on the job.
However, if there are no positions or budget for such aspirations, and you cannot afford to lose staff through job-hopping, L&D solutions can once again plug the gap.
Mattering at work isn’t necessarily reserved to the Gen Z workforce, but it is certainly a deciding factor as to whether they will stay or go. While it is important that companies don’t lose sight of the personal touches, now is the time to make ‘purpose’ a strategic objective fed through more consistent learning and development programmes.
Now is the time to make it count.
Lead image: Photo by Christina Victoria Craft