By Tony Bailey
As students get their A-level results and graduate from university this summer, a new tranche of young people will enter the workforce. So what do their prospective employers need to do to attract and accommodate the best and brightest ‘Generation Z’ talent?
These digital natives were born into a world rapidly transformed by technology and where mobile phones, the internet and social media were already a part of everyday life. As a result, they bring with them different expectations of how they want to work.
To help businesses of all sizes get ready for the latest batch of Gen Z employees and to make sure they’re able to work most productively, we commissioned a study examining the attributes that matter most to post-millennials entering the workforce. In particular, five core attributes stood out:
- Team – with the average person spending a staggering 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, it’s no wonder that Gen Z list the team around them as the number one motivator for keeping them productive in the workplace
- Training – having the opportunity to brush up on their skills and expertise, ensuring these remain relevant in changing environment, is clearly key to Gen Z with over three-fifths (63%) stating a sufficient level of training is needed to keep them productive
- Quality of tech – as we continue to hurtle into a digital landscape, the quality of technology and devices provided by employers will be critical in ensuring the younger generation is properly equipped to work at their best
- Flexible working – of those who have a flexible working policy in place, over half (56%) stated flexible working makes them more productive. It’s clear that Gen Z doesn’t feel it’s necessary to be in the office all the time, meaning employers need to think about how they upscale and modernise their working policies and technology
- Workplace culture – workplace culture helps to create exceptional, high performing workers. And with over half (55%) highlighting the impact that workplace culture has on personal productivity, employers need to be fostering a positive workplace environment
What we learned is that while Gen Z cares about tech (as you’d expect) – 61% agreed the quality of devices available makes them more productive, compared with a UK average of 55% – they care even more about the team around them. Indeed, 74% said their team matters, compared with 60% of Baby-boomers. Gen Z also said the level of training provided is important to them: 63% said training makes them more productive on a daily basis, compared with an average of 56% amongst the wider workforce.
The study also suggests a number of practical things that UK employers can do:
- Investing in your team is paramount, especially given the importance of information sharing in today’s workplace. Businesses need to ensure they have the right technology in place to help teams feel connected to one other, even if they’re not physically in the same working location.
- Quality tech matters to Gen Z, meaning that companies need to also think how they can best invest in the right technology and devices.
- Investing in training and considering how tech can help make a considerable difference is vital. After all, Gen Z employees will expect training materials to be available online, and accessible 24/7.
As a new generation of digitally savvy young people enter the workforce, British businesses must be ready to adapt to their needs. This research highlights the importance of technology, but also the value of teams and training. With the UK’s productivity already in question, businesses should not be relying on a one-size-fits all model to support such a diverse workforce if they’re to boost productivity. And as Gen Z are the leaders of tomorrow and key to Britain’s future, it’s vital that businesses look at how to attract and retain this new pool of talent.
Below, you can see how Gen Z compares to other generations in terms of workplace expectations and what makes them more productive.
The five key attributes point towards a simple truth – making efforts to cater for the needs of the new generation of candidates entering the workforce can boost a business’ overall productivity. Indeed, it was the London School of Economics ‘Power of Productivity’ report1, commissioned by Vodafone UK, which found that an organisation can unlock productivity by looking at three key levers: management practices, the use of technology and workforce flexibility. By focusing on these three areas, businesses will enable their new Gen Z employees to be happy and productive at work, now and in the future.
About the Author
Tony Bailey leads Vodafone’s Regional Business across all nine regions of the UK. Responsibilities include full P&L responsibility for performance of the business unit and sales, marketing, design and service management for Vodafone’s regional customers.
Prior to this role Tony led Vodafone Enterprise Services providing communications and IT services to Vodafone’s UK customers. Tony has also led the UK’s indirect channel, Vodafone Partner Services, and ran a global product management function. Earlier in his career, Tony worked for Nortel and BT’s Research Laboratories.