How will UK businesses adapt for Generation Z?

Much is made of the challenges and opportunities for business when a new generation enters the workforce. With Generation Z (those born after 1995) entering the workforce, there are now four generations working side by side, bringing ever greater differences between those starting their careers and those residing in senior business roles. 

Having grown up during a recession, Gen Z are typically more pragmatic in their outlook. Today’s “employees to be” are more conservative spenders, require greater authenticity, and emphasise value for money – all music to a CFO’s ears!

Studies have shown that they also value more collaborative working environments, clear progression paths and learning opportunities, and the provision of the latest workplace technologies.

Looking at the results of REED’s recent survey, there was a broad range of views on how organisations may have to change in order to attract Gen Z. Redefining training, development and succession models (36%) edged out broadening available workplace technology and systems (33%), with CSR and collaborative working seen as somewhat less of a priority.

Nicola Laud at Floral Silk saw Gen Z as helping develop a balanced workforce as “an AI environment would benefit from both new and older generations” while Carmine le Manna, CFO at International SOS echoed the overriding recognition of need for change saying “we need to accommodate Gen Z”.

When asked which organisational change would prove most difficult, redefining training and development (23%) and reshaping remuneration (21%) were cited as the biggest challenges. Only 5% of respondents believed broadening workplace technology would be the most challenging.

Some respondents, like Emma Jones, HR Manager of Xmos, were positive in their outlook:

We are introducing more radical packages of benefits to reflect the aspirations of a generation with high expectations, social values and advanced technical skills.
Emma Jones - HR Manager, Xmos

Others saw a double edged sword. Robert Voss, Financial Controller of C&D Foods, questioned whether the “major investment to attract Gen Z with more tech” might lead to that tech ultimately replacing Gen Z workers. Joy Locke, Financial Controller of Proctor & Stevenson, was unsure whether Gen Z expectations could even be met within a commercial environment.

Asked to consider the positive traits Gen Z will bring to business, the most attractive by far was their natural ability with new technologies (39%), followed by the desire to continually learn and develop (26%).

Kari Saetrevic, Finance Manager of Essilor, sees them as “the building blocks for our future”. Damien Smith, CEO of EcoDesk, stated “I think they will ignite a new way of thinking, a new paradigm”.

The overall consensus was that this generation will have a positive impact on business. While there will be challenges adapting the workplace, accommodating Gen Z may simply be a case of accelerating changes that will inevitably be required in today’s ever changing commercial environment.

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