Ana Casic explores the latest research on Generation Z and how organisations can cultivate their young talent
The up-and-coming generation of employees pursues building skills at work more than any other generation group. When looking for a job, 7 out of 10 Generation Z say workplace learning opportunities are among their top priorities. This creates an opportunity for L&D to not only help the youngest working generation find their footing at work, but also to cultivate, attract, and retain young talent.
Young adults who are entering the workplace for the first time need job skills, especially as the pandemic has made it harder to pursue their education or career goals. Data from new research of 1,205 employed, US-based Generation Z workers, across industries showed that 64% are satisfied with how well their education has prepared them for the workplace. Leaving a skills gap that learning and development teams need to fill.
The survey also unveiled that Gen Zers who didn’t receive workplace training are a bit more likely to leave compared to those who do training. Showing that skill development programmes can be a meaningful asset in combating the turnover of young talent.
Soft skills are the most valued skills at work – and the most needed to advance a career. And Gen Zers seem to have a good understanding of that
As their portion of the workforce will only grow in the following years, Generation Z’s learning preferences are poised to reshape L&D for good. To set up the newcomers for success in the professional world training programs need to fit their needs. This is, after all, the generation that loves learning through TikTok and Youtube.
Skills young professionals want to develop
With 1 in 2 companies facing the skills gap and The Great Reshuffle in full swing, building new skills and competencies among employees is becoming an imperative. Workplace learning helps close that gap – and with the entrance of Gen Z into the workplace, certain skills have become more pertinent than others. The following graph shows which skills they value the most.
Leadership tops the list of in-demand skills for almost half of young professionals. This makes sense, given the available data on the generation’s aspirations. Gen Zs appear ambitious: they want to lead and are eager to advance in their careers and move up.
Also known as power, interpersonal, or people skills, soft skills rank slightly higher than hard skills on Gen Z’s learning wish list. While in-demand skills differ from industry to industry, overall, soft skills are the most valued skills at work – and the most needed to advance a career. And Gen Zers seem to have a good understanding of that.
Gen Z in the workplace yearn for more than just work-related skills. Life skills, particularly mental health and personal finance training, rank high in their priorities.
The mental health aspect could partially be explained through the lens of the pandemic, as Gen Z has been hit hard by stress. But it appears decisive in keeping work-life balance and protecting their mental health: the research showed 72% of Gen Z employees find it important to have mental health days.
When it comes to personal financing, Gen Z seems inclined to get their education from social media. Close to 4 out of 10 are using YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, and similar platforms to learn about money. Yet, with no way to vet the advice and information that exists online, it would be safer and more beneficial for them if companies’ L&D departments would offer personal finance training for young employees.
DE&I and environmental issues
Gen Z cares a lot about diversity, equity and inclusion and finds it important that their companies reflect their values. Specifically, 77% of surveyed Gen Zers find it important to work for a company that cares about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Offering company-wide DE&I training is a good way for companies to show they are truly committed to creating inclusive workplaces. It’s clear that Gen Z is watching, since ethics, practices, and social impact are key metrics based on which it forms an opinion about a company.
Tailoring training to learning preferences
Many companies seem to be prepared for the new generation of employees and their workplace learning needs. As the research has revealed, almost half of companies have specific training in place for new graduates who are just entering the workforce. But is that training tailored well to Gen Z learning style and needs?
Gen Z is born-digital and is a generation with little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that:
- 62% want to access and complete training from their smartphones
- 56% find the learning material more engaging if it includes videos. After all, a Pearson study has shown that videos are Gen Z’s go-to resource for learning
- 63% believe microlearning would help them retain more information. And they are onto something, as the combination of bite-sized learning and smartphones boosts completion rates.
Keeping up with Generation Z
Young employees value continuous learning at work, which they see as a means to reach their goals. They understand that learning does not stop once they’re out of school and want to keep developing different types of skills.
As Gen Z’s preferences are about to reshape workplace learning, smart companies will adapt their training methods, delivery, and materials to suit this up-and-coming group of learners. Levelling up existing learning initiatives and launching new ones may be one of the key assets in keeping young talent around in the long run and setting young employees up for success.