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Generation Z enters the workforce

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With new technologies emerging at breakneck speeds, business models being disrupted and organisations going through digital transformations, the dynamic of the workforce has also changed significantly over the last few decades. For the first time in history, today’s workplace is made up of five different generations working together – thanks to lifestyle improvements, later retirement ages and earlier career starts.

Generation Z has started to hit the labour market – born between 1995 and 2009, they are the first global generation of digital natives. And, unlike the previous generations, these young people are experiencing the world of work through this altered lens.

If you’re Gen Z – and are about to join or have already entered the world of work – other than the obvious differences in age, life and career experiences, what can you expect of previous generations in the workplace? We’ve listed some of the characteristics and motivations you should know about, followed by a few pointers on what you can look forward to when entering the world of work:

Traditionalist
Also known as the ‘Silent Generation’, Traditionalists are currently the oldest working generation, born before 1945. Many have already retired from the workforce but for those who remain, Traditionalists are largely known for their loyalty, often working at one company for their entire career.

With a strong work ethic, they have a respect for authority and like to follow rules, as they favour traditional business models with a top-down approach, and are therefore typically the slowest to adapt to new working habits and technologies. The most important attributes for this generation is hard work and reliability.

Baby Boomers
Now in their late 50s to 60s, Baby Boomers today occupy many of the senior management positions. They are known as the career-focused “workaholics”; a goal-orientated generation who are motivated by challenges, promotions, perks and status.

Similar to traditionalists, they are also dedicated, loyal and known to stay at the same job for a long time. They believe in the hierarchical structure and ranking, and are therefore less open to adjusting to today’s workplace flexibility trends set by the younger generation, often viewing the younger workforce as disloyal and lazy. Baby boomers like having their expertise valued, as they offer a lot of knowledge and experience to businesses, which the younger generations may not yet have.

Gen X
Those born between 1965 and 1980 are known as Generation X. This is the generation which first disrupted the workforce culture, whilst learning to adapt in an era of technological and societal change. They are known to be independent, entrepreneurial and, as the first generation to have grown up with computers, they are also tech-savvy.

Unlike the former two generations, work-life balance is most important to them – with less of a typical 9-5 structure – and they are more likely to regularly change jobs to get ahead in their career. They are eager to learn new skills, are driven by results and value being recognised and rewarded for their hard work.

Millennials (Gen Y)
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are both shaping and being shaped by the world of work. Born in the early 80s through to the mid 90s, they not only grew up with technology but also heavily rely on it to carry out their work, expecting information to be immediately accessible. Contrary to the lazy label, Millennials work as hard, if not harder, and are expected to work for a longer portion of their lives than previous generations – with 27% of Millennials globally expecting to work over the age of 70 and 12% until the day they die.

As the most diverse of the previously mentioned generational groups, they are focused on ‘a career for me’, paving their own path and developing their skills to ensure employment and security in the long-term. They also want regular change, new challenges and advancement, whilst seeking a good work-life balance. It’s therefore not uncommon to see a Millennial change jobs every two to three years.

They are also known to like collaborating with others, have flexible schedules, and are more likely to treat their superiors as equals, unlike previous generations. They also prefer communicating through the latest digital platforms, rather than face-to-face or telephone.

Learning how to work with multiple generations

Whilst the workforce dynamics have changed drastically over the decades, being part of a multi-generational workforce has great potential for your career. Working with people from different generations and backgrounds gives you the opportunity to learn and grow, as you’ll not only pick up on ideas and different ways of working but are also exposed to other perspectives, experiences and values that will be highly valuable throughout your career.

What opportunities are on the horizon for Gen Z

Whilst today’s work environment may be more uncertain than ever before, the generational changes have created more opportunities for today’s young generation entering the world of work and continue to do so. Organisations are already looking to adapt and improve their current ways to attract Gen Z talent and here are just a few things you may be able to look forward to as you start your career:

Learning and development
Employers will be expected to provide a culture of learnability within their organisation and to nurture their talent. To support the personal and professional development of their existing and future workforce, they’ll be offering more learning and development opportunities than they currently provide.

Potential to be hired based on capabilities
Many organisations may be looking to alter their recruitment processes to match with today’s working generation’s needs as well as their own business needs. You may therefore have the potential to get a job primarily based on your capabilities and transferable skills, rather than work experience and specific qualifications, as today’s employability is less about what people already know, and more about an individual’s capacity to learn.

Increased flexibility
With both Millennials and Gen Z looking for jobs that gives them a flexible schedule, more organisations will be increasingly offering workplace flexibility to attract and retain this talent for the long-term.

Changes in organisational structures
With more Millennials taking over in shaping the future of work and working environments, and younger senior leaders leading organisations, it’s likely that junior employees will have a more direct working relationships with their senior leaders. As a result, there will be more opportunities to influence business strategies as well.

Increased company values
With purpose and meaning being huge motivators for the younger workforce, organisations are becoming more open about what they stand for and how their workers will be contributing positively to their business and communities; allowing you to make a more informed decision about the organisation that’s right for you.


Are you looking to join the world of work or change your career? Why not browse our latest jobs to see what opportunities are available for you.

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Posted on: 11/06/18