Our expectations are changing all the time; some of us (ahem) worked with dial-up and now find ourselves – 15 years later – working through the finer details of flexible and remote working, with technology changing at a faster rate than ever. But what about people who’ve known and lived on the Internet for most of their lives? What are they hoping for when they enter the world of work? Are they really expecting to have to show up at an office at 9am sharp? And if you want to recruit the brightest and best, how can you make sure you’re an attractive proposition?
We conducted an informal survey of students at business schools in London in a bid to better understand what this generation expects from the future. We’ve combined what we learned with some findings from global studies in order to start a discussion about what Generation Z might or might not be expecting.
For a while it was all about working at the ‘cool’ company, but that’s no longer enough. In The Times 100 graduate employers, Google doesn’t always come top (despite the rooftop gardens, swimming pools and massage rooms). That’s because graduates are eager to grow, so they’re drawn to companies that will challenge them and help them progress – often prioritising this over alluring amenities.
You might be surprised to learn that more of the business school students we spoke to said they’d prefer to work in a traditional office than a coworking space. This might be for reasons to do with structured development cited below, but it’s also likely to be down to limited exposure to different types of space. That said, they all tend to expect a certain amount of flexible and remote working when it makes sense to do so.
Culture is king and this is something you will want to think about reflecting in the space you choose to work in.
Company culture is king and this is something you will want to think about reflecting in the space you choose to work in. For Generation Z, it’s important they can clearly see where they fit. Do you have a company mission? If you do, are you making positive steps towards that mission? Are you putting equal opportunities into practice or just talking about it? Are you making a positive impact on the environment? How and where can you demonstrate that? This is going to be more important than ever.
This goes hand in hand with how you run your office and what your company culture is like, because it’s effectively an potential employee’s first impression of those things. The brightest and best do not expected to be thwarted by sever errors or multi-page forms before they’ve even started. They do not have the headspace or patience for anything other than a frictionless application form.
As the world opens up, expands and is full of more content than ever, people entering the world of work are perhaps not the free spirits we expect them to be. If anything, they require structure, guidance and tangible milestones more than ever.
The main thing we learned is never to make assumptions – before we did our research, we might not have predicted that those born into Myspace would have such a propensity for structure and office chairs. But young, talented people are full of surprises, and it’s important we continue to listen to them.
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