Keeping up with Generation Z

Estimates suggest that Gen Zers will comprise a quarter of the global workforce and consumer marketplace by 2025. In demand – and demanding change – this generation is reshaping international education and the workplace.

Side view image of young man riding electric scooter downtown
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This article is taken from the latest issue of Think Global People magazine.
Click on the cover to access the digital edition.Watch the highlights of our Keynote Panel Discussion from the Future of Work Festival hereWatch the highlights of our 2022 Relocate Global Awards here

Every generation shares its own defining experiences. Individuals in Generation Z – people born between 1997 and 2012, also known as centennials, post-millennials and iGen – are digital natives who are being raised through times of uncertainty and disruption.Research by Roberta Katz, a senior research scholar at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS), says this is a “highly collaborative cohort that cares deeply about others and have a pragmatic attitude about how to address a set of inherited issues like climate change.” This definition shows why the ESG agenda – now so important to investors and consumers – hits a sweetspot for this generation of social influencers, as well as how important for employers it is to take these perspectives seriously in the war for talent.
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Cost of living concerns and Generation Z

Yet a mismatch between Gen Z attitudes and aspirations and the corporate world is becoming clear. In the UK, a new study by the Institute of Student Employers (previously the Association of Graduate Recruiters) showed that younger graduates are more likely to leave jobs than at any other point pre-pandemic. With talent shortages a real challenge, this presents a problem for employers. Companies responding to ISE’s Student Development Survey 2022 represent the UK’s largest employers of graduates and school leavers. Graduate turnover during the pandemic climbed to the highest level since the ISE started collecting the data in 2011. Turnover rates for graduates have been on an upward trend since 2011. Companies are now retaining 72% of their graduates three years after they join, down from 79% in 2011.Staff turnover is highest in the legal sector with just 28% of graduates retained after three years. This is in stark comparison to health and pharmaceuticals, which has an 80% graduate retention rate. More young people are citing dissatisfaction with pay as a reason for moving on, increasing to 40% in 2022 compared to 28% in 2021 – an issue the cost of living squeeze is likely to exacerbate. 

Social and emotional wellbeing

Interestingly, with wellbeing and diversity, equity and inclusion front of mind – particularly as Generation Z is one of the most diverse in terms of gender and identity across ethnic backgrounds – employers are facing particular challenges in retaining young people with Black and Asian heritage, and those experiencing mental health issues.  McKinsey research published earlier this year highlighted the strains young people feel post-Covid, with this generation struggling most with wellbeing. A quarter of Gen Z respondents said they feel emotionally distressed. This is almost double the figure reported by Millennial and Generation X respondents (both 13%) and triple the level reported by Baby Boomer respondents (8%).Financial concerns are also having a major impact on wellbeing and the choices Generation Z is making in the workplace.

Changing tracks

This year’s ISE Student Development Survey also showed that more young people are leaving for a different type of work or career with 44% citing this as a reason compared to 20% in 2021.Yet the creativity and innovation found in this community is hugely valuable for companies, who need to embrace and understand their motivations and ambitions, says Laura Brennand-Carter, Client Partner and US office Head for talent strategy consultancy, The Chemistry Group“More of the younger generations have this opportunity to create wealth in different ways that don’t necessarily rely on the ‘productive economy’, which is all about how much you do, how present you are, your activity levels. It’s about a different type of output now,” Laura Brennand-Carter says.“When you see how people are making money through cryptocurrency, NFTs, digital content platforms, and the metaverse, there’s a whole shift in how this population of people is going to be engaging with money, with each other, and with work. These people are creating a whole new economy that could blow up.”

Lifelong learning skills from an early age

Business leaders that fail to question how this may influence their own Gen Z talent risk facing challenges engaging this demographic, and being left behind, adds Laura Brennand-Carter.The recent International Education and Schools’ Fair webinar with the American School of Milan offered employers a fascinating insight into how the future generation is being prepared for this as-yet-unknown world of work and potentially whole new economy, and how jobs might be designed to play to this generation's unique strengths and outlook.The American School of Milan is supporting students develop the skills they need to take ownership of problems, communicate and collaborate to resolve them in an ever more complicated, connected and fast-paced world. Transferability of skills and lifelong learning are to the fore. “I do believe that in the past there was a time when a person could have read every book and be a polymath like Leonardo Da Vinci who was an expert, as in one of the world’s experts, in multiple disciplines,” says Chris Briner, the school's Science Department Coordinator. “As knowledge has grown exponentially, the ability of a single human to understand it all has diminished.“It’s the collaboration between people with expertise and passion that allows human beings to do more than one individual could do. We have to give students concepts and the inner workings so they can build on them. But we also have to push the envelope for their level of specialisation. They need those critical thinking and collaboration skills to fit the pieces together and identify the problems that need solving. 

Location, location...relocation?

With Generation Z already known for its appetite for international assignments, the ISE finds 40% of respondents quit their job due to their workplace location, says the ISE study. In a recent survey carried out to assess the impact of the Great Return to workplaces after the pandemic and the rise in fuel prices by ChooseMyCar, a third of UK workers believe returning to the office will negatively impact their work performance. Yet this figure rose to 40% of 18-34 year olds.Commenting, Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive at the ISE, said: “Young people aren’t staying in their jobs as long as they used to and this is a looming threat for employers this year. Combined with high inflation and a reduction in spending power, dissatisfaction may create major retention challenges for student employers.” 
©2022 Re:locate magazine, published by Profile Locations, Spray Hill, Hastings Road, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JB. All rights reserved. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of Profile Locations. Profile Locations accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein.
summ22 fc
This article is taken from the latest issue of Think Global People magazine.
Click on the cover to access the digital edition.Watch the highlights of our Keynote Panel Discussion from the Future of Work Festival hereWatch the highlights of our 2022 Relocate Global Awards here

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