Millennials may be tech-savvy, but Generation Z kids are in a different league altogether. Having spent their entire lives immersed in the digital world has made them tech natives. Compared to previous generations, these digital natives bring a completely different skill set, learning habits, and motivation, to the post-COVID workplace. An article by the World Economic Forum - published as part of the Job Reset Summit - inspired us to dig deep into the characteristics of our future workforces.
The number of Generation Z employees will keep growing over the next few years. Gen Z, also known as Zoomers, is the demographic between Millennials and the Generation Alpha, born between the mid-to-late 1990s and the early 2010s as ending birth years. It has been estimated that by 2025, two-thirds of the workforce will be made up of Millennials or Gen Z.
The introduction of Gen Z into the workforce means that the needs of every company's employees will soon be changing drastically. You see, what the next generation wants from a role is distinctly different from that of previous generations.
To be seen as an attractive employer for the years to come, companies need to understand Gen Z's characteristics and needs, what motivates them, and how they learn. Upskilling them in the early stages of their career is crucial for taking advantage of their tech-savviness, creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, attracting the best talent - and keeping them on the team.
Career progress as a key driver for learning
A recent study by Deloitte demonstrated that, when choosing employers, Gen Z professionals are highly motivated by personal and career development and learning opportunities.
Given how much attention remote work options and flexible hours have gotten lately, one might assume that they are top priorities for Gen Z. While this part seems to be true (72% valued those options when being asked to name the top factors when choosing an employer), the key to generation Z's heart and motivation seems to be career growth.
Perks like flexible hours paled in comparison with the opportunity to develop their skills on the job. The top three named factors were career advancement opportunities (95%), a manager they can learn from (93%), and professional development and training opportunities (91%). In other words, it seems reasonable to start training for career growth at the onboarding stage.
How companies can translate Gen Z characteristics into their onboarding & workplace engagement
Entry-level jobs are an important training ground for early career talent. However, retaining and upskilling young professionals at work seems more challenging than ever. The global pandemic has placed early career talent and fresh graduates into a challenging situation: Gen Zs’ little to zero experience working in physical offices and lack of opportunities to socialize with and learn from their colleagues.
Upskilling Gen Z employees is not only a challenge in the post-pandemic world but a requirement to retain young employees. Since there is a direct relationship between the quality of onboarding and employee retention rate, poor onboarding may end up becoming a huge turnover and skills gap problem.
In short — Organizations need to reshape their training programs to fit the Z generation and help young talent acquire new skills and grow on the job.
Gen Zs learn by doing: Technology as a learning tool
One more thing that employees need to know about Zoomers is that, according to a Barnes & Noble report, 51% of Gen Z learn best by doing. Given the right tools and methods of learning, Gen Z employees are highly responsive learners. They are digital natives after all!
According to the “Gen Z in the Workplace" report by Kahoot”, Generation Z employees prefer to get training in their workplace through mobile apps (62%), online learning tools (48%), videos (39%), and social media (34%).
Another aspect for employers to understand is this — Gen Z is accustomed to personalized everything, from Netflix shows to their barista-designed coffee choices. There are many ways to embrace emerging technologies for personalized education
Artificial Intelligence is now boosting personalized learning. An example from higher education: Professors may not always be available when students need assistance. When this occurs, students lose valuable learning time, while waiting for a response until the professor is available. Whether this happens in the classroom or away from school, artificial intelligence can help! Whatever the content, there are applications for tutoring or remediating students available 24/7.
Learning Trends: Edtech for Gen Z and for all
How can the needs of Gen Z learners be met? As edtech enters the next decade, Generation Z will continue to disrupt how they approach their education and the way they learn. Having grown up with technology as a part of their daily lives, Gen Z is critiquing the limitations of the old education system. GenZ uses more social media, spends more time with online visual and video media - GenZ’s higher rates of digital literacy and early-stage technological adoption.
And as Generation Z enters and settles into professional life, technology has already shaped their educational and learning expectations. Great techspectations: Generation Z and its edtech needs the expectations of Gen Z, and how educators can keep up. Generation Z expects more, and it’s up to teachers to deliver.
In our next blog post, we will be covering learning trends more closely and investigating the leap that edtech has taken during the pandemic. One thing is clear - edtech is here to stay.
And if you see young professionals watching a TikTok video on the job, they actually might be learning Excel hacks!