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Employer opinion and Generation Z expectations currently disconnected

83% of HR leaders see attracting the next generation of employees as the greatest business challenge (over meeting targets or innovation) and two thirds (63%) think that Generation Z workers will disrupt the workplace more than any other generation, according to a new study published by Capita Resourcing today.


The research, however, which examined the attitudes of 1,015 Generation Z adults (aged between 16 and 20) and 106 senior HR professionals, also found that HR leaders’ concerns around the next generation of workers are heavily contradicted by what Generation Z respondents say they want. For example, 71% of employers think Generation Z want freedom to work where and how they choose. Yet over half (54%) of Gen Z say they would prefer to work face-to-face in a small team rather than virtually.


In addition, 69% of Gen Z state they want a single manager, rather than several different ones. A further 58% want a hierarchical structure with clear upward direction - echoing the traditional workplace environment that we currently operate in.


Nicola McQueen, managing director of Capita Resourcing, stated, “Businesses need to see Gen Z as agents of change that can act as the driving force behind new initiatives that benefit every generation of employee. Yet that’s not to say existing working practices need a major over-haul to accommodate this.  On the contrary, there’s a danger that investment in new resources, policies and procedures aimed solely at this cohort could make a significant dent in the bottom-line to no avail.”


Further disconnects between Gen Z expectations and employer opinion include:


  • High salaries not a priority - Over two thirds (69%) of employers believe that Gen Z want a high starting salary. Good opportunities for personal development and progression, as well as stability, however, are the top attributes looked for in a job or career by Gen Z.
  • Happy to learn on the job Just 35% of Gen Z want formal training yet 59% of employers think that in-house training courses are what this new breed of worker will demand.
  • Ready to hit the ground running Over two thirds (68%) of employers think Gen Z is often under prepared for the demands of working life, while 81% of Gen Z are confident they have the right attitude to succeed and 65% are confident they have the right skills.


McQueen added, “Despite being more ready that they think, there are some steps that HR teams can take. With 54% of Gen Z expecting to stay in their first job for under two years, employers commonly have a crucial 500-day window after hiring in which to maximise their employee productivity. Businesses need to establish and communicate the opportunity for career progression, professional reward and company benefits from the first point of engagement. From day one, businesses must make a good impression on Gen Z and demonstrate the opportunities before them and then follow through with the promise. This approach will also support better integration into the wider workforce and help to promote positive working practices between different generations of employees.”


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