Exactly how to capture and engage the attention of Gen Z has been a hotly-contested debate in the world of work for some time now, particularly as businesses compete to attract the latest wave of talent to help shape their long-term future and success.

 It’s little surprise, given that Gen Z are expected to make up around 27% of the world’s entire workforce by 2025. With that being said, competition for tech talent is now fiercer than ever before and any brands failing to resonate with this tech-savvy demographic will be faced with huge gaps in their workforce in the coming years.

To help business leaders better understand the values that Gen Z desire, as part of our BOLD Community (Now ‘Techleap for Scaleups’) Kick-off event, Techleap created an immersive art installation inspired by these sought-after qualities that provided an eye-opening, sensory journey through balanced leadership that incorporates vital factors like diversity, empathy and inclusivity.

The below learnings are taken from the ‘BOLD Perspective: a new generation of leaders’ session, in which Jahkini Bisselink hosted enlightening discussions between three talented Gen Z youngsters and visitors of the experience.

Be transparent. Always.

One of the most common stumbling blocks we encounter when it comes to businesses attracting Gen Z talent is the feeling that they might need to change their current ethos and day-to-day operations drastically to accommodate.

However, this sentiment that Gen Z are so radically different from previous generations has undoubtedly been greatly exaggerated over time, making the prospect of attracting their talents appear, on the surface, an unnecessarily daunting task.

The reality is vastly different, though. Above all else, Gen Z appreciate clear communication and transparency in regard to work—qualities that are imperative to any healthy office environment in any case.

That transparency needs to be present from the very first meeting or conversation. Before deciding on a role, Gen Z want to know exactly how they’ll fit into a team, how much they’ll be paid and have a clear route for progression within the business.

This decision is just as much about how their talent can help the business, as how the business can help the individual meet their own personal life goals.

Beware of ‘diversity washing’

It’s abundantly clear that diversity is something Gen Z takes incredibly seriously in all facets of life. From TV shows and advertising to the office in which they work, genuine diversity, along with an environment that encourages individuals to be unapologetically themselves, is an absolute must.

Gen Z will quickly see through cases of ‘diversity washing’, so empty statements on a website or pitch deck are no longer enough. As a business leader, it’s crucial that you instill diversity every single day across your workforce from the top-down, backing up these statements with clear, meaningful action. Be vocal about the steps and initiatives you are taking to foster an inclusive work environment and clearly demonstrate the resources you will commit to ensuring you hit any goals you have set.

Respect goes both ways

The traditional boss-employee relationship has altered dramatically in recent years and it’s important that as a leader, your team feels they can approach you with any queries they might have, and that the respect they hold for you is reciprocated in equal measures.

Yes, experienced role models are still intrinsic to successful businesses and Gen Z still certainly values these personalities greatly. In fact, they can often be the difference in someone deciding to work for you. However, there is also endless value in the unique knowledge that this younger generation brings to the table, and a great way to immerse them in the business is by making it clear you appreciate this know-how, and plan to use it to move the company forward.

Feedback should be seen as a regular two-way act. If you expect Gen Z workers to constantly be looking for ways to improve, naturally, you should feel it necessary to do the same.

Value alignment versus salary

While, of course, salary offers must be competitive, particularly given the current competition for tech talent, significant levels of student debt, and rising rent costs, it is by no means the be-all and end-all for Gen Z. Perhaps more so than any age group before, value alignment is also central to negotiations, and positive social impact is a massive factor when weighing up job options.

Gen Z are more conscious about the impact they can have on the world and society beyond work. So while this may make them more selective in choosing a role, if they can find a position that offers a vehicle for their own greater purpose they will be incredibly passionate about what they do for your business, which in turn will also make them more likely to want to build a long-term career with you.

A desire for responsibility

Ultimately, Gen Z wants to make a difference, and they want to do it fast. If they don’t feel engaged at work, you run the risk of them looking elsewhere.

Offer accountability and make clear that whatever task is being worked on is connected to a wider goal within the business. Obviously, massive responsibilities won’t be assigned from the get-go, and this is where clear communication again proves crucial, offering clarity on what responsibilities can be obtained and when.

Essentially, you need to make it abundantly clear that each individual’s knowledge holds valuable weight in the company’s overall objectives, and if an idea isn’t used on a certain occasion, explain why.

It is worth stressing that this shouldn’t be seen as a trade-off for offering a healthy work-life balance, and any extra hours that are worked should be compensated. This sentiment rings even truer in a post-pandemic world, as the last thing you want is a reputation for not treating staff well.

What couldn’t be clearer, is that Gen Z is an incredibly passionate, driven generation, and one that are more socially conscious than any that have come before.

When accounting for all of the above, it quickly becomes obvious that they aren’t this mysterious, difficult-to-reach demographic after all. Many of these qualities they look for in a job role stem from basic principles that businesses should already be abiding by regardless. Diversity, transparency and mutual respect are not new, revolutionary concepts, rather, all are fundamental to any successful operation—perhaps Gen Z is just better at holding companies accountable to this, which can only be a positive thing for the future of work for everyone.

Curious to discover more insights about the Gen Z workforce & balanced leadership?

Enjoy a digital walkthrough of the ‘BOLD Perspective: a new generation of leaders’ installation.

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