Debunking The Myths Of ‘Generation Z’ As They Enter The World Of Work

Debunking The Myths Of ‘Generation Z’ As They Enter The World Of Work

If you think members of Generation Z are too delicate and sensitive with a lack of resilience and leadership capability – think again.

A young man standing in the field
Young people already demonstrate many of the attributes required to succeed in senior leadership positions. Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

A new study of ambitious members of this generation, commissioned by the Adecco Group Foundation, shows that they already demonstrate decisive, high-quality thinking, a default to action, and stronger leadership traits than many of today’s corporate leaders.

The study used data from an assessment of 2,600 people from Gen Z, who were put through a series of demanding and sophisticated psychometric tests, normally used to assess corporate leaders. One significant finding was that some members of Generation Z already demonstrate many of the attributes required to succeed in senior leadership positions and in some cases, they achieved higher scores than current business bosses in the leadership assessment. These characteristics will be especially useful for the top-performing members of this cohort, who have been selected to participate in the Adecco Group’s unique CEO for a Month programme.

Gen Z – born between 1996 and the early 2000s – expected to enter the world of work with the benefit of buoyant global economies and after the effects of the Financial Crisis had passed. But these great expectations have been stalled as the massive COVID-19 health crisis creates a very different and uncertain backdrop as Gen Z enters the workplace.

However, these young adults are likely to succeed if they are well-integrated into the multi-generational workforce, as they bring diverse attitudes, skills, and attributes to the workplace, along with some areas for development, according to the study.

Our earlier survey of CEOs and workers looked into the future of the world of work as we emerge from the pandemic. The survey results give an idea of the environment Gen Z will encounter as they embark on their careers, and the skills and capabilities needed to help them survive and thrive.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Gen Z – strengths, shortcomings and their contribution to business in an uncertain world

The latest study highlights Gen Z’s skill set, the areas where they may need support, and what they bring to the world of work in times of COVID-19 uncertainty.

Top 5 skills where Gen Z shows particular strength:

💡 Deciding and Initiating Action

💡 Formulating Strategies and Concepts

💡 Planning and Organising

💡 Achieving Personal Work Goals and Objectives

💡 Building relationships and influencing others

But they need support in:

🔹 Resilience – when facing setbacks and criticism they are more likely than most to lack the resilience needed to start again when things go wrong. They may be prone to losing their drive and confidence to make decisions.

🔹 Following instructions and rules – they are likely to question rules that they do not understand or feel are relevant.

🔹 Willingness to adhere to corporate values and principles – their focus may tend to be on their personal needs and goals above those of their function or organisation.

🔹 Listening to the needs of customers and delivering excellent customer experience.

What Gen Z can offer in times of uncertainty, like during the COVID-19 pandemic

⚡️ Their ability to solve problems, propose new ideas fast but that are high quality, and thought through in a strategic way.

⚡️ Decisiveness, drive and energy.

⚡️ Leading others through understanding, inspiration and clear management of outcomes.

The 4 areas businesses must focus on to attract and retain top Gen Z talent

Undoubtedly, Gen Z’s have a lot to offer to businesses, even if they need a bit of support in certain areas. Companies, therefore, have a unique opportunity to make the most out of young people’s talent. To that end, however, they need to consider these four vital points:  

#1. Match the right people in Gen Z with the company

  • The company must ensure its selection process focuses on the qualities the organisation really needs.
  • Objectively assess candidates’ potential – it’s more relevant than applicants’ school, university or the subject of their qualifications and offers equal opportunity candidates from less privileged backgrounds to demonstrate their potential.
  • Utilise a range of diverse entry-level programmes like apprenticeships and internships, in addition to more traditional graduate entry programmes. This will provide opportunities for all of tomorrow’s leaders to get a chance to prove their value.

#2. Harness Gen Z’s strengths and help them manage challenges

  • Companies must develop ways of drawing out the strong work ethic, strategic thinking and exceptional drive in a psychologically safe environment – while helping them build resilience and manage setbacks.
  • Offer ongoing learning, vocational training, reskilling and upskilling to ensure constant development for Gen Z, while giving them a chance to gain experience that leads to recognition and rapid promotion.
  • Generate a safe environment that learns from failure, rather than penalizes it. Create the opportunity for them to experiment with low-impact, moderate risk activities and ensure they record their lessons learned from the failures as well as from the successes.

#3. Capitalise on inter-generational strengths in the business

  • Create a leadership culture that values ideas from all levels and generations within the business. This will promote richness and diversity of thinking and culture that will motivate the workforce and benefit the business.
  • Develop a mentoring program for Gen Z. Mentoring can help them build resilience, as well as giving them a chance to develop a cross-generational workplace support network.
  • Consider creating a ‘shadow board’ – a formal body of younger leaders – that can bring new thinking and energy to the strategic direction of the business.

#4. People in Gen Z want to be part of an organisation that provides them with a meaningful and supportive environment

  • Bring alive the company’s values, goals, objectives, and norms in a compelling and relevant way. Gen Z will need to be convinced before buying-in to the corporate culture.

Business leaders have a great opportunity to take advantage of this powerful capability and potential; equally, they have a responsibility to create an environment that allows Gen Z to express their real strengths. If they can get this balance right and consistently deliver on their promises, they will become an employer of choice for Gen Z.

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