Opinion: Diana Wong, Director Product Marketing, RES Software looks at how to help up and coming Gen Z employees to thrive.
45 days might not seem like a long time to decide that a job is right for you. Yet, according to reports, this is the length of time that 20 per cent of new employees take. While the reasons are not attributed to one particular thing, with digital expectations high amongst the latest generation of workers, we can assume that working for companies with old-school technology is a major one. This is the world of Generation Z — the new workers who have grown up with the internet and whose demands for technological speed and ease make slow-transforming companies vulnerable. High recruitment costs notwithstanding (up to £10k per position), how organisations adapt their IT to keep the clever, tech-savvy Gen Z-er on board will be a matter of far-reaching concern well into the future.
We can’t appreciate the full extent of the change that Generation Z will bring to the business world but one thing we do know is that it will be drastic. Their rise from the ashes of the Millennial Generation, whose main contribution to society’s evolution was in the asking of questions, has already impacted greatly on our working culture. With different digital expectations from previous generations, Gen Z demands more from the people they work for — they want to know why they can’t resolve their own IT problems, why it takes so many weeks to access work apps on personal devices, and want more flexibility in where and how they work. Disruptive by nature, Gen Z-ers won’t hesitate to jump ship if their employers can’t demonstrate their commitment to playing a modern game.
In this environment, it’s the organisations that need to learn the ropes, proving they can provide young staff with the immediacy and currency they have come to expect. Of course, catering to Gen Z’s every whim is not the answer, but all businesses will have to accommodate to some extent if they’re to thrive in the Gen Z sea-change. Here are three ways they can do this:
Give them choice
It’s likely that Gen Z employees will request to work with different applications and services from the standard set offered by their companies. If they have to wait for their IT departments to respond or endure a lengthy integration process, it’s also likely that they’ll turn to personal apps that perform the functions they’re seeking, but which their companies can’t monitor or license. This is known as shadow IT and it can have severe productivity and legal consequences. Hillary Clinton is a notable example of the hazards of IT going rogue. The best way for businesses to address this issue is not to block personal apps but to give employees a range of alternative, controllable options to choose from that serve the purposes sought. In this way, they can show that they’re willing to follow the Gen Z-led path.
Predict what they want
The reality of this new landscape is that proactive business measures are needed to stay ahead of the game. Merely responding to employee requests for new apps won’t be enough — IT managers will need to predict what’s needed and learn what’s available to incorporate into their IT offering. To do this, they can assess if the apps being used in certain areas of the business will fit with other departments, or make new product purchases based on an analysis of the value offered by past purchases. Predicting what people need will not only help organisations to mitigate the potential risk of rogue IT scenarios, it will show a commitment to digital progress that Gen Z will respect.
Free them up
For Gen Z-ers who are used to doing everything on the move across a range of personal devices, the ability to work flexibly is vital, and a major factor in who they choose to work for — and whether they stick around. Technology is the biggest enabler of work-from-home or work-after-hours. Managed well, it can galvanise a young workforce to great levels of productivity; managed poorly, it can be the biggest threat to a company’s IT security. Business heads who want to benefit from Gen Z’s vast digital talents must find ways to enable access to working environments outside the workplace within controlled boundaries. A good example of how this can be done is with dynamic security privileges, meaning, setting specific times for certain employees to access corporate data and files or restrict certain applications from launching from particular locations. Putting measures like this in place will help organisations steel themselves against a mobile backlash whilst improving their appeal to Gen Z.
Without a doubt, Gen Z is a force for business with the potential to bring about much-needed transformation within tired digital environments. Moving with the tide, rather than resisting it, is the best way for organisations to capitalise on the insights into contemporary human behaviour that this generation can offer. And this is crucial for all businesses that want to survive in an online world. The scale of Gen Z’s impact is to be seen, but it will certainly be profound.