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How large organizations can evolve to adapt to a changing workforce – Understanding Generation Z

economictimes.indiatimes.com | May 1, 2022
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The workforce is rapidly evolving with fast-paced changes in the technological, business and social environment. Organizations need to pause, recognize and understand this transition in the workforce, to be able to adapt better to the workforce of tomorrow.

Generation Z consists of post-millennials born between the mid-1990s and the end of 2010. They comprise of teenagers and young adults in schools and colleges, and the youth who have entered the workforce in the last 4 to 5 years. In the coming decade, several more people from this generation are going to enter the workforce.

Given the challenges which organizations across industries are facing currently in attracting and retaining employees, it might be beneficial for them to understand the Generation Z workforce. This understanding may not only enable organizations to prepare themselves better for the future, but also help them identify ways to overcome these challenges in the present.

People belonging to Generation Z are generally children of Generation X and have been born in the post-liberalization era in, by and large, nuclear families. Also called the digital natives, they have grown up amid a rapidly evolving technological environment. They have not known a world without the internet, social media, and mobile applications. In most cases, they have had much more exposure and easier access to a variety of informational sources and products, and have experienced a wider range of amenities than their previous generation.

Given the different milieu which Generation Z has experienced, they have developed certain characteristics that are distinctive and define their personality, priorities, and values.

Research findings reveal that Generation Z has a varied mix of attributes. Some of the attributes relevant to the workforce are explained below:

Identity – They are individualistic in thinking, and have a strong sense of self. They believe in their competence and potential and thus have high self-esteem. This attitude may also be perceived as an entitlement by the older generations. They have high aspirations about their role in the workplace. Their inability to express themselves freely may bring about feelings of loneliness.

Relationship – People belonging to Generation Z have an open and collaborative mindset. They are comfortable interacting and working with people from different regions, communities, nationalities, and cultures. They are receptive to diverse ideas and perspectives. They can build a relationship with a variety of people, irrespective of their background if they can emotionally connect to them.

Communication – They can use a variety of communication channels with ease. Though, they may find it challenging to deal with face-to-face communication sometimes, due to their non-confrontational nature. For this reason, they may come across as unresponsive or difficult to understand. They appreciate and respond to feedback (positive or negative) that is objective, specific, and detailed.

Task preference – They are creative, skilled at presentations, and in using different technologies. They can multi-task, but are impatient. They may struggle with planning a task or persevering at a task for long. The time spent in the process of exploration and discovery may not seem valuable to them. They prefer tasks that provide the freedom and flexibility, and the opportunity to make significant decisions.

Interests – They have a practical approach towards life. They desire to do hands-on and application-based work, rather than deal with abstract ideas and theorization. They favour developing new skills and creating a larger impact, to financial or job security. They like to take full charge and see an activity to its completion, rather than just participate in limiting boundaries of a role.

Considering that most working population representing Generation Z is likely to exhibit these characteristics, organizations need to rethink some of the processes and policies to attract, develop and retain the Generation Z workforce. The following indicates certain aspects of organizational life which may require a rehash. Although the suggestions are universally applicable, they are especially relevant for Generation Z.

Job design – Completeness of role with end-to-end visibility, autonomy, accountability, and clarity about the role in organizational performance

Recruitment – Clarity in communication about role, assessment of candidate goals and aptitude, stimulating selection process, cultural fitment, and onboarding experience

Development – Learning environment, skill development, regular feedback, and opportunities to participate in critical activities, take full responsibility for projects, and make an impact

Retention – Work-life balance, location and timing flexibility, informal environment, networking occasions, and promotion of diversity.

Organizations may also need to rethink some fundamental aspects of business, like hierarchical structures, roles and responsibilities, performance evaluation and compensation policies, which they generally tend to approach conventionally

The workforce is rapidly evolving with fast-paced changes in the technological, business and social environment. Organizations need to pause, recognize and understand this transition in the workforce, to be able to adapt better to the workforce of tomorrow.

The author, Smita Chaudhry, is Associate Professor in the Department of Human Resources at FLAME University. Views expressed in the article are personal.

(Source: https://hr.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/hrtech/organization-development/how-large-organizations-can-evolve-to-adapt-to-a-changing-workforce-understanding-generation-z/91235364)