Gen X vs Gen Z: the future of business

PLMR's Rebecca Rocca discusses how Generation Z will change the way we view businesses now

Loyal. Driven. Dedicated. Smart. Savvy. Just a couple of the words that spring to mind when you think of ‘the perfect employee’. And while ‘driven, smart and savvy’ may be used to describe millennials ( those born between 1981 -1995) or Gen Z ( those born after 1995 and following millennials into the workplace), it’s my guess that ‘loyal and dedicated’, may appear further down a Gen X (those born between 1965-1980) employer’s list, if at all, specifically when it comes to these young employees in the workplace.

According to a survey by Deloitte of 10,112 millennials and 1,844 Gen Z respondents across 26 countries, younger workers ‘are re-inventing the conventional notion of employment’. At face value that seems extremely positive: here is this energetic young workforce questioning tired, stagnant processes and traditional ways of doing things, disrupting the norm, and driving changes for the better. But no, sadly, that’s not what the comment is referring to. The survey revealed that, ‘among millennials, 43 per cent envision leaving their jobs within two years; only 28 per cent seek to stay beyond five years. Employed Gen Z respondents expressed even less loyalty, with 61 per cent saying they would leave within two years.’

While Gen X could be described as looking at careers as ‘jobs for life’, places where you could grow, climb the career ladder and master your skills, it appears Gen Z and millennials simply don’t share the same sense of loyalty or dedication. What’s more, it would seem that they are in fact disappointed that business leaders’ priorities don’t seem to align with their own. The majority of millennials surveyed agreed with the statement that corporations ‘have no ambition beyond wanting to make money.’

So, if financial gain isn’t the motivator for Gen Z and millennials, then what is?

These groups value flexible schedules, time off and sociable working environments. They want to do work that is meaningful to them and expect transparency and clear structure from their workplace. They are motivated by recognition and responsibility and thrive on continual feedback and mentoring, and really embrace the ‘work-life balance’. While these motivators may provide a healthy outlook for employees, where does it leave the future of business and their employers?

Another recent survey carried out by Kingsley Leadership Academy, sought to identify the key attributes and skills that large companies look for when hiring new candidates. The research, which was carried out on over 200 C-Suite staff found that a majority of ‘Arts & Culture’, ‘Finance’ and ‘Sales, Media & Marketing’ companies believe that the single biggest problem faced by recent graduates is believing that they have a right to a leadership role.

Evidently, there appears to be a disconnect between the views of employers and young employees: Gen X employers think that Gen Z in particular are too entitled, whereas, Gen Z believe their employers don’t share their values. Whose view is right, and what does it mean for the future of business? I’m not sure… but I am interested to see how it unfolds over the coming years and how these views shape the business landscape.

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