Generation Z – Ambassadors to the Future of Work

In the Digital Age, the landscape of the modern workplace is in constant flux. The rapid pace at which emerging technologies have evolved has begun to pay off big dividends for organizations who have embraced digital transformation. Both hard and software solutions have learned to integrate with one another to create new, more flexible business models designed to increase a company’s reach and offer greater opportunities for personalization, collaboration, information sharing and mobility.

Bridging the generation gap

The influence of these changes on today’s workforce cannot be underestimated, especially when we consider that this meteoric rise has resulted in considerable discrepancies in the ways different generations view not just their work environment, but technology itself. To keep their employees happy across the board, companies are now placing greater emphasis on Diversity & Inclusion programs to address the generational divide within their ranks.

With this in mind, Dell Technologies has recently commissioned a study by Dimensional Research to examine the impact today’s technology has on the mindset of Generation Z, aged 24 and below, who are expected to represent 20% of the workforce by 2020. By better understanding the changing needs, priorities and skills they require to succeed, organizations can form a more accurate picture of their own specific digital transformation requirements for enticing this younger breed of hyper-connected workers who consider technology second nature, and create a bridge between generations that will allow this new group to become ambassadors of digital change going forward.

The changing definition of diversity

By definition, diversity comes in many forms. Whereas a decade ago it was measured primarily in terms of an employee’s sex, Gen Z does not show the same gender issues as its predecessors. As they begin to rise in popularity in the workforce, this issue is poised to resolve itself.

This is further highlighted by the ways in which the human / machine partnership is changing job roles, leaving more automated tasks to computers and freeing up employees to orchestrate, innovate and plan new ways of working. As AI and other emerging techs begin to interact more closely with one another and increase emphasis on creativity in planning and team interaction, IT becomes more interesting to what were once considered stereotypically female traits. This has resulted in a greater number of women in IT roles across the board, a trend which shows no sign of stopping.

Changing priorities, evolving methods

Engaging the interests and imagination of young workers is a highly productive way for organizations to discover interesting insights and create new methods of collaboration, while increasing the loyalty of a group who does not envision working for the same company for a lifetime. To better understand how to accomplish these goals, we must first examine Gen Z’s mindset:

78% want to work with cutting edge technology to further their careers

  • For a generation who has grown up constantly connected and technologically advanced, the ability to use the same tech tools they have at home is extremely important. Companies unwilling to invest in digital transformation run the risk of frustrating younger workers, resulting in higher turnover and reduced efficiency. Personalization of the workplace is a key component for keeping them satisfied and loyal.

47% want the ability to learn new skills and have new experiences

  • For Gen Z, having the latest technology at their disposal not only means increased efficiency in the workplace, it also provides them with the proper tools to better their skills, keep them happy with their jobs, and discover new ways of working that rely more and more on the innovations found in emerging technologies.

33% want to work for a socially or environmentally responsible organization

  • More so than their predecessors, Gen Z is very concerned with the policies and ethics of the company they work for. Initiatives such as well-defined Corporate Social Responsibility programs and an environmentally aware outlook are important factors in attracting and retaining the younger set. Gen Z does not simply want a paycheck – they want to make a difference.

44% want work that has meaning and purpose beyond just getting paid

  • Gen Z is socially active and places more emphasis on the concept of work / life balance than its older counterparts. They want more than just money for their efforts. This includes a stronger team mentality, greater mobility and the chance to work from home with a more fluid work schedule that better suits their personal and family needs. They see work as an extension of themselves, rather than a definition of who they are. To earn their loyalty, modern organizations need to prove their own.

The value of reverse mentoring

Surprisingly, though Gen Z relies more heavily on technology than their predecessors, they show an eagerness for more human interaction. They have made it clear that just because they are on their phones does not mean they are not interacting. In fact, 76% say that social media can be a valuable tool in the workplace.

This desire to be part of a team and increase human communication in its various forms has resulted in a trend of reverse mentoring. Gen Z shows an eagerness to teach older generations when it comes to tech, not only to make their department as strong as possible, but so they themselves get the data they need quickly. A stunning 70% are willing to be mentors to others on the job, as they consider technology to be a strong ally for improving communication and the transfer of information, be it personal or work related. This gives added confidence and ability to potentially less tech savvy employees. From a company standpoint, this means that any investment in Digital Transformation will pay dividends more quickly.

This same idea is mirrored in families, as grandchildren are teaching grandparents computer and mobile phone skills to improve communication and stay better connected. When mirrored in a work environment, efficiency is greatly increased for all.

Changes in learning, changes in leadership

As Dell Technologies’ Realize 2030 Vanson Bourne study has shown, the concept of learning is changing from what a potential employee has learned to how quickly he or she can learn as new solutions emerge. This highlights the increased need for forward thinking organizations to focus on how to entice and retain the best and brightest of this new breed of tech ambassadors. Investing in a solid digital transformation initiative with a focus on creating a personalized workplace that suits every generation is the surest way to keep your ambassadors of the future happy and eager to raise the overall level of IT expertise within your company.

As the human/machine partnership solidifies and evolves, the changing of roles is inevitable. In the days to come, the uniquely human skill remains the ability to envision ways to improve and drive business, not the tech behind it. To achieve this, the insights of tomorrow’s leaders are of absolute importance.