Digital natives – Newspaper – DAWN.COM


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GEN Z is an enigma. From AI to Zoom meetings to blockchain, the generation born between 1997 and 2012 has brought about an incredible transformation in the way corporates will work in the near future. Digitisation colluded with Covid-19 and completely altered the rules of working. While we witness chaos every day, a more drastic change is possibly here to stay for good, birthing a novel generation that intends to leave a mark on the workplace environment and culture.

According to a 2021 Consumer Culture Report by 5W Public Relations, Gen Z has prioritised electronics, technology, health, and wellness. This is the generation that has never known a world without the internet. They are not familiar with analogue camera film, a CD player, a paper map or a floppy disk.

Their buying and selling is different. Their mode of working is different. Their decision-making process is quick and calculated, with information available in the blink of an eye and at the click of a finger. They are dependent on mobiles, social media, laptops, and the internet for most of their work. Their income-earning methods are entirely online, with investments made virtually while integrating virtual and offline experiences. If this trajectory continues, it will carve a path for them to pioneer nomadic careers, developing alternative ways to make money online.

True digital natives, this generation is the future of any progressive company. But the commercial giants must take a deep dive into understanding and meeting their expectations, which are entirely different from other generations. It is essential for the corporate world to provide purpose-driven employee experiences, progress and career growth. Only when companies are prepared to accommodate them will they be able to attract the right talent. Gone are the days of employees slaving away. Gone are the days of juicing the best from the all-rounders. Gone are the days of milking them to the last breath. Gen Z will not put up with this.

What does Gen Z want from the corporate world?

They grew up during the recession spawned by the global financial crisis in 2008; they prioritise working for and buying from companies that believe in the importance of sustainable choices, and they have recently lived through another major crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic. One would think that Gen Z would be a practical, cautious and non-entrepreneurial lot driven solely by handsome remuneration and immense job security. And that they would be too cautious to engage in job hopping. But they’re not. As I said earlier: nomadic career paths.

The notion of the typical career ladder leading upwards from the internship cubicle to the C-suite is an archaic one. In its place Gen Z looks for a more ad hoc and flexible routine. While remuneration is a common overlap, factors like mental wellness, ambition, passion and relevance are equally important; but these idealistic, holistic virtues are in strong competition with the very basic backbone of the economy — money!

Thus it is a no-brainer that Gen Z workers prioritise work-life balance, remote working, and flexibility as their top primacies when looking for a job. Because if any of these go amiss, it will compel them to continue the search for it elsewhere. And so it is imperative for companies to provide these as a matter of necessity to prevent a high turnover.

What’s more, Gen Z is in pursuit of jobs that allow for broadening of skills, talents, and experiences. This translates into a major shift of the typical HR practices that firms employ to attract, hire and retain the right talent. They must capitalise on the opportunity to enable an environment that is conducive to fostering personal development. And we all know how critical this can be for any generation.

While there is a widespread perception that Gen Z has low tolerance for the challenges that life throws at them, I believe it is quite the opposite. Hav­ing survived two major crises in a little over a decade, this is perhaps the most resilient and adaptable generation that will be better equipped at taking challenges head on.

What exactly then, are they looking for?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion. They want employers to take climate change seriously. They are keen on sustainable companies — to work with, to buy from. They want more transparency and higher ethical standards. No more putting up with work for survival. They want a shift in mindset and strategies. They want to thrive as the organisation flourishes. They want to look for inspiration. They want to feel engaged and work together with the experienced lot. They want them to be receptive to innovative ideas, diverse perspectives.

So in the face of everything that is constantly changing, what Gen Z looks for at work — and what they will not take — will have enduring repercussions, and it is important to address them because they have clearly, and rapidly, taken over the world.

The writer is a communications professional/content creator.
[email protected]

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2023

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