As 2021 comes to an end, we can look to the future with confident trepidation. The post-pandemic recovery continues apace, and innovations continue to inspire people to think, work, communicate and grow in new and amazing ways.
Many of the new crisis-proof systems we have introduced over the last year – remote work as standard, for example, or a reliance on “hands-free” processes and the renaissance of the QR code – have been underpinned, guaranteed and indeed launched, supported and created by Tech and tech innovators.
While some of the more COVID-specific changes such as app-based vaccine passports and the conversion of app-based “wallets” into secure banks of health information may be short term in use, many of these changes are very much long term in concept and theory. We are building the foundations for a future that is increasingly a more integrated, digitally reliant one, and the inheritors of this universal hybrid work-and-life-place need to understand how, why and where it came to be, to continue the good work our tech visionaries have started.
But rather than wait until Gen Z comes of age, we urge employers to meet 2022 at a sprint by building recruitment strategies that are inclusive of Gen Z talent, their particular place in history, and their incredibly conducive digital mindsets and familiarity with tech, the online world, digital existence and digital theory.
Look not at our youngest generation as inexperienced, unbloodied apprentices to our workplaces – they are, and should be seen as, a boon to employers seeking digitally skilled talent. Indeed as the UK struggles with an enormous dearth of tech talent – especially in the data analysis, cyber security, data architect and developer fields – the focus should be on how we can integrate and train younger workers more effectively and more specifically to the needs of today and tomorrow.
Rather than focus on what Gen Z workers want (there are some incredible resources available for that, such as this Deloitte report) we want to focus on strategy – how employers should look at the big picture of where Gen Z reside, what sort of recruitment methodology you need to work within, and what sort of guidance, support and techniques best engage Gen Z workers.
The focus on Environment and Social Governance (ESG)
It’s easy to focus on Gen Zer’s unique place jammed between two financial crashes and a coming-of-age mid-pandemic as the origin of their desire to work for employers who’s ethical credentials and commitment to diversity marry their own – Gen Zer’s want to work in a better world.
While this is most certainly true, it doesn’t explain the whole picture.
Gen Z workers have no qualms about communicating their displeasure with a brand, directly, and immediately. This is a result of a much more democratised culture of brand-loyalty and contact driven through social media. This confidence has blurred the lines between brand, customer and advocate forever.
The work brands do to protect our environment, become more inclusive, hire and elevate diverse workforces, and help those less fortunate, are incredibly important factors to younger workers.
Employers beware – Gen Z candidates have rigorously delineated rules about what constitutes good or bad corporate behaviour, and they most certainly mirror that in their job search and recruitment practice.
Experience Vs Resumes Vs Availability
“The unique world Gen Z finds itself in is creating problems with moving from secondary and post-secondary education to the workforce. Only 58% of Gen Z is employed from the ages of 18 to 21, compared to 72% of millennials during the same age range”.
Bear this in mind. Although Gen Z workers will constitute roughly 27% of all employees by 2025, many of them are coming into work later in their teenage/young adult life. Rather than use this to galvanise a hiring spree on jobless inexperienced younger workers, the thing to remember is why.
Economic scarring has hurt younger workers more than any other demographic, and jobs that traditionally constitute the “first job” such as hospitality, retail and customer service, are beset by COVID-related downturns and closures.
The unique skills young workers gain in these arenas – communication, working as a team, working to routines, professional behaviours etc – haven’t been lost. They’ve simply moved locations.
Gen Zer’s digital skills, and the proliferation of freelance work, side hustles, day-trading, micro-work cultures and communities of iterative young developers especially (see a myriad of hackathons held all over the world) has meant our youngest generation are engaged, and skilled, in different ways to any other generation. Especially in regards to tech and digital culture.
So is the humble resume important any more?
Is, in fact, a 10 minute programming skills test and a chat about a candidate’s love of crypto more indicative of their “fit” within your tech firm? You decide.
Multi-generational hiring strategies
Good recruiters create consistent hiring practices, but shift expectations, specifics and interview techniques to meet a candidates’ skill level and seniority. This should obviously not change, but we urge recruiters and HR professionals to consider consistency of culture a central component of this, especially when it comes to how you hire across all demographics.
Millennial workers and Gen X workers are the primary drivers of labour, capital, ideas and innovation in today’s employment market. But they share the same worries, and fears, about long term employment pressures, L&D, career development and remuneration as Gen Z workers – and are doing it with families and more pressures on maintenance of households.
We believe that creating strategies of fluid hiring practice that better include Gen Z talent actually benefits every age group – from reskilling legacy talent, to entry level worker.
A quick, responsive process is what you need to attract and engage the best talent.
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