It is more common than many might think to hear stories of Gen Z talent negotiating much more than their compensation, such as when and where they want to work, their access to leaders and executives, professional training and development, and when and how they want to be communicated to.
While this may appear to some who have lived in a “do as you are told and climb the career ladder as depicted” paradigm as entitlement, a more appropriate view of this is a different “e-word”: entrepreneurial.
A fresh perspective
As the workforce continues to evolve, the latest generation to join its ranks is swiftly reshaping the employment landscape. Gen Z is entering the job market with a unique set of values, expectations and digital fluency that sets them apart from their predecessors.
New talent is no longer willing to put their career in the hands of the organization and follow a sometimes opaque and amorphous career path. Instead, they recognize that, with the right skills and experience, they can take their career anywhere they want, whenever they want and according to their own desired path.
Instead of seeing their career as a progression of promotions according to an organization’s internal hierarchy, they see their future as a “choose your own adventure” novel where they can set a new direction at the end of each chapter or personal stage, more like a “butterfly career.”
With their distinct perspective on work-life balance, desire for purpose-driven careers and affinity for technology, Gen Zers are challenging and upending many of the conventional hiring strategies and practices long upheld by enterprises.
This means that organizations, particularly HR and workforce planners, need to innovate their talent strategies to embrace these new paths and ways of working if they’re going to engage and access talent. The paradigm of the past will no longer satisfy the talent of today and the future.
New generation, new priorities
Gen Z’s impact on hiring practices and the workforce is driven by their unique attitudes and behaviors, many of which challenge traditional norms. Recent statistics reveal that 90% of Gen Z recognizes the significance of remote work as a crucial recruiting tool and intends to maintain it as a standard practice.
Additionally, freelancing continues to be an appealing career choice for young professionals, with Gen Z embracing non-traditional work models and seeking opportunities that provide autonomy and diverse experiences. These preferences and attitudes pertain not only to the behaviors of Gen Z employees and job seekers but also relate to how they’ll behave as managers and business decision-makers.
Being a digital-first generation, Gen Z possesses an innate familiarity with emerging technologies and digital platforms. They bring tech-savviness into the workplace, prompting organizations to reevaluate their internal processes for collaboration, performance management and overall work experience.
This begins with adopting innovative approaches to attracting and engaging talent – as employees or not – by leveraging tech-enabled tools such as virtual employment brand events, mobile-friendly work and collaboration tools, virtual work opportunities and a more custom and digital overall work experience.
The demand for flexible work arrangements is another significant factor. Gen Z values the ability to have control over their schedules and prioritize work-life balance. They see their relationship with work as being more fluid and integrated with their lives, versus being fully committed to one mindset or the other for prolonged parts of the day. They seek opportunities that allow them to work remotely, choose flexible hours and have greater autonomy.
Critically, company values hold great importance for Gen Z. In fact, 42% said they wouldn’t take a job if it did not align with their personal values. This shift has forced companies to reevaluate how they establish and communicate their values, and make meaningful changes to attract and retain Gen Z talent.
Recognizing the need to attract and retain workers across this unique generation, organizations are also rethinking and redesigning their talent strategies. They are exploring flexible work arrangements and promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship to appeal to the entrepreneurial mindset of Gen Z. By proactively adapting their talent strategies, companies are positioning themselves to successfully attract and engage this influential generation in the evolving world of work.
Cracking the Gen Z code
With flexibility, efficiency and outside-the-box thinking so important to this new generation of young workers, companies are headed in the right direction by employing scalable talent solutions like freelance workers and skills-based work design. But this often means a whole new segment of the workforce to manage, which can be challenging.
To effectively manage workforces consisting of a myriad of inputs, HR leaders must adopt a 360 view of talent. HR leaders need to assess the organization’s current and future needs, determine what outcomes are required to deliver their strategic objectives and then align those with the skills, technologies and partners best suited for success.
This can include some tasks that can be best accomplished by full-time employees and some that freelancers can effectively handle. This requires a thorough understanding of project demands, skill requirements and resource allocation.
Additionally, adaptability is key as HR leaders must navigate the changing dynamics of a hybrid workforce and rapidly evolving technologies, adjusting talent strategies, systems and processes to accommodate all types of workers, including freelancers, seamlessly. This includes flexibility in work arrangements, communication methods and project management approaches.
Here’s where innovative talent solutions and catering to Gen Z’s values intersect: HR leaders should highlight their organization’s commitment to multi-faceted work models, emphasizing inclusive culture and opportunities for growth and collaboration across work inputs and employment types.
Cultivating an environment that promotes collaboration, knowledge sharing and recognition can ensure a sense of belonging and shared purpose throughout the workforce ecosystem. This will go a long way in transforming and innovating your workforce to meet the expectations and needs of the incoming generation.
First disruption, then harmony
As Gen Z disrupts the workforce and transforms hiring paradigms, business leaders must remain proactive and innovative in their approaches.
While it will take innovation and transformation to stay ahead of the curve, by continually adjusting and adapting these strategies, HR leaders can successfully navigate the changing landscape and create a workplace environment that appeals to and harnesses the immense potential of Gen Z. This approach ensures that organizations remain competitive in the talent market and are well-positioned to thrive in the era of Gen Z’s influence.