4 ways to ensure executives welcome the next generation of talent

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If you joined our most recent webinar, Engaging GenZ’s in the Workplace, you would’ve learnt a lot about who GenZ’s are, what their workplace needs are, and, of course, what makes them engage. What you would’ve also heard come through, is the concern around executives who are perhaps more ‘old-school’ in their approach to work, recruitment and retention, and perhaps even fearful of a new tech-savvy, open-minded generation entering the workforce and challenging the norms. How do organisation’s get these executives to:

  1. Welcome the new generation of talent 
  2. Allow for their needs, and the differing needs of others to be met harmoniously 
  3. Accept change and be inspired by the strengths of younger employees 

Let’s refresh our memory on who GenZ’s are: 

8-27 years old 

Digital natives 

Do not know life without technology. Very savvy tech users. 

Activists 

They challenge ‘norms’ they deem socially incorrect or unnecessary.

Co-creators

Content creators and brand advocates 

What they want from work:

  • GenZ want a clear career trajectory mapped out from day 1 
  • Employers must be transparent in all aspects 
  • Variety within their role 
  • Diversity must be front and centre 

It goes without saying, differences cause conflict. They cause conflict because they often bring about uncomfortable feelings for people. “Conflict occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. Sometimes these differences appear trivial, but when a conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal need is often at the core of the problem” (helpguide, 2020). It’s therefore not uncommon for conflict to arise between generations – especially in a micro-environment like the workplace. So before conflict arises between the workplace ‘natives’ and the newbies, or ‘next-gen’ talent is lost altogether, it’s important for HR professionals to work on ensuring executives welcome GenZ’s. Here are our top tips:

Communicate needs

It all begins with communication. Even fulfilling the next three points will prove impossible without communication. Encouraging executives to communicate their needs before and after hiring next-gen talent is important because it will help manage possible fears or uncertainties and reassure them that their voice still does, and will always, matter – they are not going to be left behind and forgotten about. It will also reassure them that the needs of the newbies are not going to overshadow theirs – even if they’re different. And, ofcourse, meeting their needs will likely minimise their fears and concerns enough for them to feel more willing to accept the next generation of talent.  We’d suggest one on one conversations, as well as pulse surveys to uncover deep routed feelings they may not have shared in one-on-ones. 

Risk Management 

Risk management is another very important one. Essentially, it’s communicating the risks the organisation faces, should GenZ’s not be hired. The risks include: slower growth, less innovation and creativity, lower productivity and profit, loss of competitive advantage and awareness of changing consumer needs, lack of diversity and poor company culture, amongst many others. Here again, communication is vital, and we’d suggest you approach this as a discussion rather than filtering the message down to them. Get execs in a room, have them also think and discuss the risks of not hiring GenZ’s or next-gen talent.

Manage expectations

Executives will absolutely have expectations. For example, they may hear that GenZ’s are tech savvy and then expect them to solve all the world’s tech issues, which of course is unrealistic. This is why expectations must be managed – if not, people may feel disappointed, they may act out on these disappointments and conflicts can arise. The best way to go about managing expectations is by first listening to what the current execs expect, and then working with their feedback to manage their expectations.  

Appreciate differences

As mentioned, it’s often differences that triggers conflict. Execs may feel threatened by new talent that may be more clued up than they are in certain areas – for example, their younger employee may know how to use technology in a way that boosts sales – something they didn’t know and now may feel inadequate over. Or the GenZ’s may feel frustrated with older employees who don’t know advanced techniques and may be slow to grasp them. However, instead of seeing it this way, the execs could view it positively – that these younger employees have strengths that can make up for weaknesses in the organisation and foster growth in new ways. While GenZ’s could take it as a way to teach, inspire and inform. It’s only normal for people to feel threatened if their weakness is another’s strength (especially someone younger and less experienced than they are!), or feel threatened if they are questioned on why they do what they do. However, it’s HR’s responsibility to shift the mindset amongst employees across the board by getting people to see and appreciate each other’s differences because that is what’s best for the organisation and for the people.

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