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            Are Gen Z and STEM Employers on the Same Page?

            19th July 2023

            Forward thinking STEM companies will consider what differentiates 13 to 27 year olds in the workplace and as consumers. By 2025, Gen Z will make up around 27% of the global workforce. To attract and retain these workers, employers should understand what this generation prioritises in the workplace.

            Many of the Gen Z generation experienced disruption in their final years of education due to the pandemic, joined the workforce during the shift to hybrid working and are now experiencing the impact of a rising cost of living. These contextual factors have dramatically impacted what Gen Z expects at work, with priorities ranging from socially responsible work to a diverse culture, and certainly, flexibility.

            The generation may appear to have high expectations, but STEM employers cannot ignore them. Vacancies are still higher than pre-pandemic levels, and 66% of large UK businesses are finding it difficult to recruit employees with the skillset they need. In a difficult talent market, it is crucial that employers appear as attractive as possible to candidates to remain competitive.

            Opportunities for the STEM Industry

            A survey conducted at the end of last year by Get it Made highlighted the opportunities for future STEM talent:

            • 47% of those aged 30 and under would consider working in a STEM-related field in the future.
            • 26% of women aged 30 and under, and who are not already in the industry, would consider working in a STEM-related field in the future.

            It’s up to STEM companies and brands, and how they recruit today, to determine the future of STEM and its workers. Based on the survey, companies who are struggling to hire skilled STEM talent in 2022 – 2023 should focus on attracting hires from these groups: young women and Gen Z.

            Gen Z Aspirations

             1.Workplace Flexibility

            73% of employees desire permanent flexible working options. This is certainly the case for Gen Z team members, who are driven by a desire for work-life balance. Many Gen Z employees joined the workforce in either a remote or hybrid environment, allowing them to save time on commuting and invest this time into other personal priorities. Inevitably, Gen Z don’t want to lose this benefit, and for many, hybrid working is no longer seen as a benefit, but an integral part of the working environment.

            Data gathered by job market statistics and insights firm Adzuna show that in May 2023 more than 1,400 UK job postings mentioned an early-finish Friday as a benefit for prospective candidates. That compares with just 583 company postings that offered an effective weekend extension in 2018. The perk has been targeted more heavily at junior roles, with more than 75% of those advertised aimed at employees on salaries between £20,000 to £40,000 – one way employers are currently trying to target and compete for Gen Z as they enter the workforce.

            An early finish on a Friday has been a popular benefit in the engineering, sales and IT sectors, where there is higher competition for a smaller pool of skilled staff. Engineering positions accounted for 348 of the jobs advertising the perk, while 207 of the postings were for sales roles.

            2.Culture

            According to Deloitte’s Gen Z and Millennial Survey, Gen Z employees feel empowered to drive change within their organisation, especially in the diversity, equity and inclusion arena.

            A survey by the BBC found that Gen Z were far more concerned about prejudice towards LGBTQ+ people, gender equality and racism than other generations. In the US, 77% of Gen Z have indicated that a company’s level of diversity affects their decision to work there. These findings suggest that Gen Z employees will prioritise working for organisations that are open to becoming more inclusive, or already have DE&I initiatives in place.

            3.Career Development

            Gen Z, millennials and the baby boomer generation all cite poor development as a reason for leaving a job but only Gen Z ranks it as a top reason for accepting a new job. Gen Z employees seek regular opportunities to invest in their professional development. Typically, learning and development opportunities for junior employees remain limited to on the job training or perhaps an external course. This just doesn’t make the cut for Gen Z employees, who are looking to access a personalised programme of regular upskilling.

            In response, businesses need to invest in employee skills throughout the career development lifecycle, offering all employees the development opportunities that have been reserved for senior leaders in the past. Leveraging technology-driven tools, like digital coaching, is key to ensuring that this is done in a financially responsible and efficient way. It’s important for businesses to ensure that they are fulfilling their employees’ appetite for growth.

            4.Purpose

            Nearly four in 10 Gen Z employees have rejected work assignments due to ethical concerns and actively seek meaningful work. Meaningful work ranks in the top three factors for Gen Z when looking for a new job. This age bracket, as a whole, seeks roles that conform with their drive for environmental sustainability and social impact, which can put pressure on organisations to have strong environmental, social and governance credentials.

            Transparency is also a crucial aspect for the younger workforce. Keep your employees in the loop regarding important company aspects, like business performance, industry performance and data. You want your team to believe in your business and rally behind it to create something meaningful.

            5.Compensation

            Salary is a highly important factor for all generations when choosing a job, especially given that the cost of living remains high. In May 2023, inflation was at a rate of 7.9%, up from 7.8% in April 2023. Salary is particularly important for Gen Z employees, who are in the early stages of their career and therefore on lower pay rates than their colleagues. Yet, employers should not fall into the trap of prioritising salary over everything else, as some data suggests that Gen Z values salary less than every other generation. Whilst Gen Z will always seek a good salary with competitive benefits, they also consider the range of other elements that impact their experience at work.

            Gen Z are looking for a well-rounded employee experience, more so than the generations that came before them. Business should therefore consider the experience as a whole from learning and development, environmental, social and governance to DE&I initiatives to create a culture where Gen Z can thrive.

            Gen Z are more attuned to social media than other generations. Social media’s negative effects also fall more heavily on Gen Z. A McKinsey & Company survey found that 27% of the Gen Z generation reported a negative effect on mental health from technology and social media compared with 19% of millennials and 9% of the baby boomer generation. If used to build supportive communities and promote well-being, tech and social media could be a part of the solution, too.

            While Gen Z share certain workplace attitudes with other generations, work environment and mental-health factors have, on average, a greater impact on performance.

            MD Comment

            Every generation enters the workplace and develop their careers with different aspiration and Gen Z is no exception. The future of businesses, industries and global economics will at some point rely on Gen Z to innovate, improve productivity, improve socio-economic conditions and lay the foundations for future generations. It is in the gift of the current custodian’s, Gen X and Y, to provide Gen Z with the strongest possible foundation to realise their ambition and capability.

            Posted by Mike Gorshkov

            Managing Director at Linea Resourcing

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