How to attract Generation Z talent
As students get their A-level results and graduate from university this summer, a new tranche of young people will enter the workforce. So what do their prospective employers need to do to attract and accommodate the best and brightest ‘Generation Z’ talent?
These digital natives were born into a world rapidly transformed by technology and where mobile phones, the internet and social media were already a part of everyday life. As a result, they bring with them different expectations of how they want to work.
To help businesses of all sizes get ready for the latest batch of Gen Z employees and to make sure they’re able to work most productively, we commissioned a study examining the attributes that matter most to post-millennials entering the workforce. In particular, five core attributes stood out:
- Team – with the average person spending a staggering 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, it’s no wonder that Gen Z list the team around them as the number one motivator for keeping them productive in the workplace
- Training – having the opportunity to brush up on their skills and expertise, ensuring these remain relevant in changing environment, is clearly key to Gen Z with over three-fifths (63%) stating a sufficient level of training is needed to keep them productive
- Quality of tech – as we continue to hurtle into a digital landscape, the quality of technology and devices provided by employers will be critical in ensuring the younger generation is properly equipped to work at their best
- Flexible working – of those who have a flexible working policy in place, over half (56%) stated flexible working makes them more productive. It’s clear that Gen Z doesn’t feel it’s necessary to be in the office all the time, meaning employers need to think about how they upscale and modernise their working policies and technology
- Workplace culture – workplace culture helps to create exceptional, high performing workers. And with over half (55%) highlighting the impact that workplace culture has on personal productivity, employers need to be fostering a positive workplace environment
What we learned is that while Gen Z cares about tech (as you’d expect) – 61% agreed the quality of devices available makes them more productive, compared with a UK average of 55% – they care even more about the team around them. Indeed, 74% said their team matters, compared with 60% of Baby-boomers. Gen Z also said the level of training provided is important to them: 63% said training makes them more productive on a daily basis, compared with an average of 56% amongst the wider workforce.
The study also suggests a number of practical things that UK employers can do:
- Investing in your team is paramount, especially given the importance of information sharing in today’s workplace. Businesses need to ensure they have the right technology in place to help teams feel connected to one other, even if they’re not physically in the same working location.
- Quality tech matters to Gen Z, meaning that companies need to also think how they can best invest in the right technology and devices.
- Investing in training and considering how tech can help make a considerable difference is vital. After all, Gen Z employees will expect training materials to be available online, and accessible 24/7.
As a new generation of digitally savvy young people enter the workforce, British businesses must be ready to adapt to their needs. This research highlights the importance of technology, but also the value of teams and training. With the UK’s productivity already in question, businesses should not be relying on a one-size-fits all model to support such a diverse workforce if they’re to boost productivity. And as Gen Z are the leaders of tomorrow and key to Britain’s future, it’s vital that businesses look at how to attract and retain this new pool of talent.
The five key attributes point towards a simple truth – making efforts to cater for the needs of the new generation of candidates entering the workforce can boost a business’ overall productivity. Indeed, it was the London School of Economics ‘Power of Productivity’ report, commissioned by Vodafone UK, which found that an organisation can unlock productivity by looking at three key levers: management practices, the use of technology and workforce flexibility. By focusing on these three areas, businesses will enable their new Gen Z employees to be happy and productive at work, now and in the future.
Tony Bailey, Head of Regional Business, Vodafone UK
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.