With Generation Z due to enter the workforce in significant numbers, we ask industry leaders how businesses must adapt to accommodate the needs of four co-existing generations. Interviews by Liz Mellon and David Woods.
THERE ARE 350 million Gen Z’ers in India alone, and they are expected to enter the workforce in significant numbers for the first time in 2015. In fact, it is projected that by 2020 – just six short years from today – Gen Z will make up 36% of the global workforce, and they are already giving businesses a glimpse into their tech-savvy future. This is the generation that will grow up with cloud computing as the norm; the generation that will instinctively turn to cloud marketplaces to find the business apps they need to succeed; and the generation that will rely on their iWatches and other wearable technologies every day. How well prepared are companies to cope with four, or even five, generations in the same workplace?
This interview with Adela of Microsoft Mexico, is the last of our four ‘integrating the IT generation into business’ interviews.
ADELA GIRAL, HR director, Microsoft, Mexico
Gen Y has been a challenging generation to integrate into the workforce, wanting to be heard and continuously developed. I think the impact of Gen Z (or the IT generation) will be a completely new way of working.
This new generation will work using a range of different devices and it is very socially-dependent.
Gen Z’ers will use crowdsourcing to generate new ideas and validate their marketing principles, and they will be much more driven to train and develop themselves than were their predecessors.
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This group of people definitely cannot be managed under a traditional “command and control” structure. Gen Z’ers need to be given “self affiliation” projects, where they, as employees, choose the projects in which they want to participate.
Some futurologists predict that, in the coming years, businesses will even reach a point at which employees will be able to select their own managers. So managers will need to have a positive reputation and their own distinct “brand” as a leader to ensure that people want to work with them.
Generation Z’s facility with IT and social media will enhance the business pace because these people are “digital natives” and do not need to “learn” how to work using social media – they know when and where to use it and, importantly, where it really adds value.
However, they will no longer use email, so organizations had better adapt the workplace to allow for different vehicles of communication such as Yammer, Facebook and so on.
Employers can help address Gen Z’s “eight-second attention span” with improved communication that is designed around this time-span. This could incorporate training based on bite-sized pieces of learning and interactivity; gamification could be used in training, so staff could re-ignite their attention with every chapter, as they would do in video games.
With four generations in the work- place, the major challenge is adaptability; leaders need to foster greater adaptability to enable these generations to work together. We need the generations to develop a symbiotic relationship, in which they take advantage of one another’s skills and thrive because of their individual characteristics and in spite of their differences.