Dr Paul Redmond* recently delivered a thought-provoking webinar via our INEUCS (International Network of Employers and University Careers Services) series, entitled “Back to their futures: working together to get Generation Z back on track”. If you did not attend the session, please find a link to the recording, below, should you wish to watch it. Even though I attended the session, I found a second viewing to be of tremendous value in consolidating the important pointers that were shared.
Whilst there is a lot being said about the positive effects of Covid (it has turbo-charged the future of work, accelerated governments’ responsiveness to change, allowed us to scale our reach in terms of virtual events like career fairs and work experience programmes, etc.) the impact of the pandemic on Generation Z, who have not yet entered the world of work and have no career capital, could be calamitous. As Dr Redmond so aptly pointed out, it is how WE respond to Covid and what WE do to compensate for the potential losses suffered by this generation that will become the DEFINING MOMENT in our own careers. So, take note!
Do’s and Don’ts with Gen Z
Based on his research and interactions with Gen Z, Dr Redmond enlightened us regarding some of the characteristics that define this generation – and some of the do’s and don’ts:
- Although very much “together” in a digital world, Gen Z are often alone and lonely.
- Living through their mobile devices and camera lens’s Gen Z are less concerned with reality than they are with the story they will be able to tell about it.
- Gen Z have no anonymity, their lives are fully documented in the digital world
- They “speak” emoji 😉
- Full-stops and voicemails are viewed as acts of micro-aggression – don’t use them with Gen Z!
- They are a fun and resourceful bunch in whom we must place our faith for the next generation.
Five things you can do for Gen Z that could ultimately define your career
#1 Listen and ask, “What do you think?”
Recent research by Bloomberg suggests that 60% of Generation Z are either “surviving or struggling”, compared to 61% of older generations who are “thriving”. There is often a deep divide when Generation Z interacts with more senior people in the work environment. We need to resist the urge to “tell” and embrace listening, asking questions and understanding Generation Z’s concerns, solutions, and different ways of thinking about and solving problems.
Most of us have been out of the office for more than 370 days – and remember, it takes only 66 days for a new behaviour to become habit forming! So, coming back to the office is like starting over again. How are we going to re-integrate, what will be the same as before, what will be different? How will workplace cultures, practices and norms change? Even if you don’t have all the answers, use back-onboarding sessions to explore ideas, concerns and the way forward.
#3 Second Curve Thinking
Unlike the somewhat linear career journey of previous generations, Generation Z’s career trajectory is likely to take the shape of a Sigmoid Curve which looks something like this:
So, at each “yellow” point on the graph we should be renewing and re-vitalising the career trajectory of Generation Z. This requires new thinking for both us and them and places increased emphasis on the power of ongoing learning and development in the workplace.
#4 Avoid Netpotism, encourage Networking
Netpotism is defined as “recruiting from the same closed virtual networks” and has been spawned because of our new reliance on online recruiting platforms and solutions. The pandemic has increased our reliance on personal networks, and, in many cases, our networks have shrunk. For Generation Z, their network=networth. So, we must encourage this Generation to use new ways to build their networks and ensure that we give them the skills and opportunities to do so.
Supplemental Instruction, Peer Assisted Study Sessions and Peer Assisted Learning have worked well for Generation Z in the academic world – find ways to translate the benefits of collaborative learning into the work environment.
Dr Paul Redmond, Director of Student Experience and Enhancement, University of Liverpool
Dr Paul Redmond, author, keynote speaker, employment guru, is one of the UK’s leading experts on generational change and the future of work.
Link to recording of Paul’s session: https://vimeo.com/531372122 (password, ineucs).