Opinion

How Generation Z will shape the workplace of the future

3 min read

01 December 2016

The news has been strewn with articles about millennials, or Generation Y, in recent months. Those 20-somethings who are struggling to get on the property ladder, who crave a more flexible approach to work, and who rely on dating apps to find romance. But what of so-called Generation Z?

Generation Z is the cohort of young people who will be making their way in the professional world over the next few years. The generation who grew up in the shadow of the financial crisis, who are paying through the nose to go to University, and who are just as comfortable making friends on Twitter as they are IRL (that’s “in real life” for all you non-Generation Z folk out there).

Whilst many of us are waiting anxiously to see what a Brexit Britain looks like in a global economy rocked by mass population disruption and a shock US Presidential election, the youngsters of Generation Z are quietly amassing the skills needed to power our economy in years to come. And we ignore their potential at our peril. 

Whilst the majority of today’s CEO lack digital skills and social media savvy, the next generation of workers will have these abilities written into their DNA. No longer will “social media literate” or “an understanding of SEO” be proudly displayed on CVs, these skills will be assumed. 

But what is society doing to ensure we are able to capitalise on the talents of these young people? They will be entering the world of work saddled with immense debt and struggling to find a job that can pay all their bills. But what’s more than that, the workplaces around the UK aren’t adapting quick enough to suit their needs. 

Whilst not all companies can go down the Google route and produce endless frappuccinos and beanbags to satisfy the millennial and post-millennial cohort, lots of businesses are refusing to accept that Generation Z will be looking for something different when it comes to their professional life.

Choice, flexibility, passion – these are the things which the students of today will be looking for when it comes to employment. They have no desire to be office drones, chained to desks with no prospect of promotion without at least three years of servitude.

Now, whilst no job can provide wall to wall excitement (unless perhaps you’re a rollercoaster tester), we all have a role to play in adapting our companies to provide the workforce of tomorrow with some of things they will crave. 

Because these young people have the skills that employers need desperately. They are tech-savvy, digitally clued-up, hyper aware of trends. Unless we recognise that these people are not just young, but skilled too, we risk missing out on all they have to offer and condemning another generation to a world of workplace discontent. 

Gregory Newman is the founder of S2DNT, a platform which connects skilled and savvy university students with employers or individuals who need help with tasks.

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