Apr 14, 2019

Switch on to our next-gen workforce’s wants

Switch on to our next-gen workforce’s wants

They were raised in an era of social media saturation and are used to flicking from one activity to the next.

Meet Generation Z, the latest cohort entering the workforce.
So how do employers attract and retain workers from this demographic, born between 1995 and 2009?

Australian social researcher Claire Madden, author of Hello Gen Z, has some tips for tapping into what this group has to offer and some insight into what generally drives them.

As might be expected, some of the characteristics she highlights stem from Gen Z’s immersion in technology, with fast access to information and an expectation of instant feedback.

“The expectations they bring towards the workplace and what work brings for them reflects that,” Ms Madden said.

“…They are looking for variety in their job. They have grown up in an era of a lot of entertainment and options – where they flick between activities. Their attention spans are shorter than previous generations.

“While that’s not ideal, the workplace that offers variety in their role and the opportunity for young people to work on different tasks in their day can reduce that sense of becoming bored easily.”

While organisational cultures matter for all age groups, Ms Madden believes this issue is truly front and centre for Gen Z.

“They are looking for a really friendly workplace environment where communication matters and managers and leaders are accessible,” she said.

“Also, they want to have friends at work, a sense that they are part of a cohesive team. That creates an engaging environment.”

She says they are more likely to be attracted to organisations that are agile, adaptive, nimble and relevant than those with a lot of red tape or that are so large it is difficult for them to respond to changing times.

It may be a hard sell to attract capital city-based members of this cohort to a regional or remote site for work.


Social researcher Claire Madden.

“Generation Z is very focused on the overall experience of life, not just work being the central goal,” she said.

“It is important to them, but it’s not everything. You might see Gen Z less likely to leave everything else in pursuit of work than previous generations.”

Gen Z has also earned a name as the STABO – Subject To a Better Offer – generation, according to Ms Madden.

Think of it like this; when it comes to replying to an invitation on Facebook, for example, people can say yes, no or maybe. Likewise in the real world, they like to keep their options open.

“With jobs, people are very aware of their options. It’s more of a competitive global labour market now,” Ms Madden said.

Perhaps the trump card an employer can hold in appealing to this generation is the chance to ‘make a difference’.

“One thing that comes through is that a lot of them want to make a difference in the world and they want their careers to be a context for that to occur,” Ms Madden said.

“They feel like making a meaningful contribution and a positive impact.

“The mining sector has the opportunity to consider ‘what are the ways this sector is contributing to the nation, families and communities?’ and tell that story and live that story.

“You will find Gen Z are deeply motivated to have a sense of meaning at work.”

This age group was also very conscious of the fact they would likely have multiple jobs in their lifetime and wanted opportunities to gain transferable skills, Ms Madden said.

She believed the resources industry may be appealing on this front, as a large and broad sector that offered a variety of pathways and the chance for young people to carve out lasting careers.

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