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What Gen Z want

You've done it. You've advertised, interviewed, tested and offered. They're coming. It's time to take a breath (for now at least). But are you ready for Gen Z?

They’re the first truly digital and global generation. They’re the most diverse, politically liberal and educated cohort to date. And they know what they want from your workplace.

Who are Generation Z?

Firstly we want to be clear. We're not into labels at Outward Bound. We just want young people to be the best that they can be. But as most of us were born before Gen Z (ahem!), it's important that we challenge ourselves to understand the newest generation coming through our doors.

Gen Z: born after 1997, successors to millennials, but strictly not a carbon copy

A number of macrotrends have shaped the way that Gen Z think. They’ve grown up in the wake of the Great Recession and stumbling job recovery; increasing global institutional insecurity; drastically rising costs of higher education; and an information environment where they, as digital natives, reign supreme.

This in turn has shaped their attitude to work in three primary ways:

1. They’re loyal, and they’re willing to work hard

GenZedders appear to appreciate the current economic precarity. They know they’ll have to work harder, and for longer. Whilst millennials have had a reputation for job hopping, initial research on Gen Z shows them to be intent on staying within their organisation or industry and working their way up the corporate ladder.

2. Apprenticeships are on their radar

According to Forbes, Gen Z have learnt from previous generations and are looking for ways to avoid accumulating debt. Despite their reputation as the most educated generation, this includes side-stepping the costs of higher education and going straight into the workforce.

3. They have a can do attitude

They're creative and entrepreneurial. They’ve learnt how to think, learn and communicate in a never-ending ocean of information. They’re used to being taught and having an input. They’ve got an aptitude for constant learning and feedback, highly valuing opportunities for training and advancement within their careers.

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The future of work: retaining your talent

Employers are facing a challenge. The average cost of recruiting has increased and ‘time to hire’ has more than doubled over the last five years. In the current political climate there will need to be a greater focus on developing in-house talent and retaining your newest recruits.

We can see that Gen Z are already shaping up to be a committed and talented bunch – but what more can you do to attract and keep hold of your apprentices and graduates?

1. Quench their thirst for learning

We know they’ve been ready to learn since day one, equipped with the internet, YouTube and a global network of peers to answer their questions on demand. Make sure that they have plenty of opportunities for formal and informal learning and progression.

2. Create an open and inclusive working environment

Gen Z are all about inclusivity and diversity and they want to see it in their workplace. They’re also keen on collaboration, with a preference for face-to-face communication with colleagues and a working environment conducive to teamwork.

3. Offer them something different and help them to flourish

Yes, the future of business is a networked one, and there are distinct advantages to making use of social and emerging technologies. But let’s face it – unless you’re a big tech, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be teaching your youngest employees something they didn’t already know (or have the app for). But research suggests that younger generations are lacking in other areas – namely cognitive social and emotional skills (and there ain’t no app for that).

In the 2016 CBI Education and Skills survey, employers reported dissatisfaction with communication skills (50%), business awareness (69%) and self-management and resilience skills (48%) of school and college leavers. The updated 2018 survey shows that 60% of employers still rate these broader skills as among their top three priorities. This tells us they should still be a priority in your apprentice and graduate training programmes.

What are you waiting for? (hint hint)

We won’t beat around the bush. When it comes to satisfying your latest influx of GenZedders, we think Outward Bound is a no-brainer. We work with over 25,000 young people every year (in fact Gen Z are old to us, we're already welcoming Generation Alpha to Outward Bound) so we know that the workplace can be daunting for recent school or college leavers and graduates.

Our apprentice and graduate and future leader programmes are designed specifically for your early careers talent. They're perfectly aligned to your needs and the values of your organisation and offer your apprentices and grads an excellent personal development opportunity. When young people attend an Outward Bound programme it can have a positive long-term impact on their self-management, resilience, determination and engagement with their employer. It’s pretty much a win-win scenario right?

Whatever you decide... whether you choose to use Outward Bound to develop your young talent or not, just remember the next generation is here. Gen Z mark a divergence from their predecessors, and they’ll need to be nurtured if you want to get the most out of them and retain them for years to come.

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