To manage learners in the classroom is one thing, but managing the workforce is a whole different ball game. Each generation of workers brings a unique perspective to the workplace. Millennials are more idealistic and optimistic, while Gen Z workers – born between 1995 and 2007 might pose some challenges. Gen Z grew up during a recession and have proved to be more pragmatic, but also face a lot of criticism from their colleagues and are often seen as difficult to work with within a team and struggle to negotiate, which can of course lead to a lot of disagreements and conflict in the workplace.
So where to from here? Gen Z places a large emphasis on comprehensive training and development in the workplace, but where the challenge comes in is that Gen Z received schooling and education in a more digital and tech-focused environment, traditional training and development in most industries are outdated and needs to be adapted for the current and incoming workforce. Robotics and coding will also be included in the new curriculum in schools in South Africa, which means in a few years’ time when learners are ready to spread their wings in their new career fields, in-career training as we know it will look much different than what it does now. Essentially Gen Z is slowly but surely changing how companies actually function and if they are not happy or receive regular feedback it will be easy for them to jump ship and will be a loss for employers who need the younger generation as part of their workforce.
Business leaders need to remember that it is of the utmost importance to be very clear about messaging and values of their companies and organisations when hiring in the Gen Z workforce. Always be open to suggestions and new challenges that are brought to the table, but that does not mean that there needs to be a compromise, explanation or apology for certain values of a business. It is also a well-known fact that Gen Z has an affinity for freelancing rather than the run of the mill nine to five day job. Hence why it is so important that they are happy in their workspace. This happiness isn’t always measured in money earned. Gen Z needs a collaborative workspace. Despite being the most tech-focused generation to date, according to a recent survey, over 90% of Gen Zers prefer having a human element to their workday and would rather interact with a tech-based project with other team members by their side. This also brings us back to regular feedback and multiple check-ins with managers during the week.
53% of Gen Z would rather focus on being entrepreneurs than grow as part of a team in a company. A company that wants to change this trend and integrate and manage its Gen Z employees should know that Gen Z will choose companies that are fun (25%), innovative (23%), ethical (22%) and international (20%). This is where it becomes crucial for companies and businesses to ensure that they recruit the right talent to ensure that future plans for development are up to scratch and that a younger workforce will be retained. Never assume that Gen Z employees are getting everything they want and need, stay in the loop and always offer support. Gen Z employees are very powerful decision-makers in the digital world we live in and can be a very valuable asset when managed and upskilled correctly.
For schools, it is important to consider combining entrepreneurial education in-service training as well as shaping the fundamentals of the institution hand-in-hand with management to ensure that Gen Z teachers are always learning new skills and equipped to implement the latest trends and teaching methods. It is much easier to customise a school system than change a whole generation to fit an outdated system.