To thrive and survive in today’s economy, businesses need to become digital businesses. And it is Generation Z’s innate technology skills that can benefit the entire workforce.
Just over half of Traditionalists and Baby Boomers (51 per cent) think learning from the younger generation will help meet their organisations’ digital demands – higher than any other age group. What’s more, 61 per cent of them think maximising the skills of multiple generations will help. Interestingly, this is almost double when compared to Generation Z (30 per cent).
Perhaps this means Generation Z workers feel that only the younger generation have the right knowledge to address these demands. This could be reinforced by the fact that only 8 per cent of them say specialist training would help – significantly less than the over 55s (at 53 per cent).
Which of the following do you think will help meet your organisation's growing digital demands through your workforce? (Learning from younger generations entering work)
The question is – are enough organisations maximising the skills of the younger generation?
Worryingly, our report suggests not.
Around one in four (26 per cent) of Generation Z and Millennials say their company isn’t doing enough to attract the younger generation. As if this finding isn’t bad enough, 31 per cent of them don’t think their company gives the younger generation a voice when it comes to technology adoption.
The reasons for this are unclear but one explanation could be that businesses – especially those that have been around for a long time and often rely on old established ways of working – do not fully understand the role the younger generation can play in bringing technology skills into the business.
If this is the case, then there is untapped potential among the entire workforce to use digital tools that could help them become more productive – something which is incredibly important as businesses look to maintain an edge over their competition.
What’s clear is that organisations must embrace the younger generation. And that means being open to change and a different way of doing things. They must not underestimate what this new generation can achieve – especially from a digital sense. This means not pigeonholing them into uninspiring roles, but creating jobs based on their skills, knowledge and talents.
This is where reverse mentoring, in which young people mentor their older colleagues in the workplace, is invaluable. As digital natives, Generation Z can help businesses keep up with the fast pace of technology. They are also well placed to support colleagues who are resistant to change or lacking the confidence to try new tools. This in turn encourages these diverse groups to work together cohesively, encouraging every generation to learn and share their own experiences.
So how do businesses go about ushering in a younger and therefore more inclusive workforce? One way is to actively work to eliminate bias so that age – whether young or old – is not even a deciding factor. Unconscious bias exists at every step of the hiring process unless objectivity is forced out of the process and managers are trained accordingly.
Otherwise, the danger is that people run unstructured interviews unconsciously, making too many assumptions about why a person might be right (or not) for the role. These assumptions are often based on age but also where they were educated, their industry experience, the number of job moves, or whether they have worked for a certain type of company – and even race, religion and sexual orientation.
This needs to change and 40 per cent of Generation Z workers agree. They say that changing hiring practices to increase the number of employees from under-represented groups is important. This is compared to just 18 per cent for the over 55s who are perhaps used to traditional hiring methods.
Which of the following do you think will help meet your organisation's growing digital demands through your workforce? (Changing hiring practices to increase the number of employees from under-represented groups)
Businesses need to look at what innovative solutions can do to improve the hiring process. Predictive cognitive testing, for example, ensures that every single hiring decision is made on objective measures across the board, and at every level. Everyone follows the same processes around learning capabilities and potential. They cannot ‘unconsciously’ use their gut, but instead must now rely on data-driven evidence.