• Monday, April 22, 2024
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HR managers contend with Gen Z workers

HR managers contend with Gen Z workers

Members of Gen Z, who grew up with social media and a different set of work ethic and compensation expectations, are entering the workforce and human resources managers are increasingly finding it hard to retain the top talent among them.

Gen Z refers to the generation born between 1996 to the early 2000s, meaning most of them today are either undergraduates, fresh graduates or just entering the workforce. They are called Gen Zers.

Human resources experts say while Gen Zers, tech-savvy and entrepreneurial, contribute to the growth and sustainability of many companies, especially in Nigeria where tech skills are limited, they are often hard to retain and it is even harder to make them follow systems and processes.

Many of them seem entitled, often the result of social media pressure, said Jennifer Oyelade, director of Transquisite Consulting, a UK and Nigeria-registered recruitment and training consultancy.

“They are seeing these influencers taking private jets, spending money on luxury and expensive items. But they are not seeing how they are making their money,” she said.

This, according to Oyelade, pushes the lazy ones to seek out quick ways to make money without putting in the necessary work.

Human resources experts also say a distinguishing feature of Gen Zers is that they are constantly looking for multiple sources of income away from the regular 9-5 jobs.

“That is why you will see an increase in demand for remote work,” said Franca Ovadje, founder and executive director at Danne Institute for Research.

Ovadje said having side hustles had become very popular and working from home made that possible and viable.

But Ovadje expressed worry that this posed new challenges for HR managers because Gen Zers are the future due to their age. “We have got to try and understand what motivates them and why they feel the need for the side hustles.”

Remote work is not a new concept, and there had been some clamour for flexible work hours but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of companies both locally and internationally to embrace it.

Some of the advantages for employees are that it helps in saving extra expenses, reduces physical stress, excludes commute time, and more flexibility.

According to data from LinkedIn, the volume of job searches using the Remote filter on the job search platform increased by about 60 percent since the pandemic started in March 2020.

An HR official, who wishes to be known only as Ijeoma, talked about what she described as a growing trend of Gen Zers wanting to work remotely rather than coming to the office. “There is a higher demand for remote work or even coming to the office thrice or twice a week due to stress that comes with working a 9-5 job.”

While salary is the most important factor in deciding on a job, a recent survey report by Deloitte states that Gen Zers value salary less than every other generation.

“If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen Zs was fairly evenly split over the choice,” it shows.

Priscal Bassey, a 23-year-old youth corps member, recently left her job at an international education company as a result of the workload.

“I just got tired of the workload. Even when my boss increased my salary to N40,000 from N35,000, I still did not change my mind,” Bassey told BusinessDay.

She is not interested in searching for a job as her focus is to start a business.

A recent McKinsey & Company study on workers’ hopes for the future shows that 18- to 29-year-olds are most interested in a hybrid work set-up, working two to three days a week from home, and the rest in an office.

Of this group, 48 percent said they would prefer hybrid work. While other workers do want hybrid set-ups – 44 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds, and 38 percent of workers aged 50 and older, Gen Z most wants a foot in each world.

“Although they can be very distracted, they have brought significance into the labour market by moving the definition of work from activity to productivity,” said Olamide Adeyeye, the head of research at Jobberman Nigeria.

According to Adeyeye, a Gen Zer would rather work on multiple jobs because he knows that he will get paid once he produces results, unlike previous generations that get paid for activities.

Read also: Starting an HR department (1)

Unlike Gen Z, Millennials or Gen Y, born between 1981 and 1996, want to contribute beyond their job descriptions and move up in the organisation, according to a book titled ‘What Millennials Want From Work’ by the Center for Creative Leadership. “They work long hours, don’t expect work to stop when they leave the office and are quite motivated.”

Sofiat Peter, a human resource generalist at Egbin Power Plc, said millennials are more disciplined and have a sense of direction than the Gen Z.

“The fundamental parts of growing up, becoming who we are and figuring out life have shifted. It was different for us and it is also different for them. We have stopped having conversations about values and disciplines,” she said.

Reports have predicted that Gen Zers may soon surpass millennials as the most populous generation on earth, with more than one-third of the world’s population counting themselves as Gen Zers.

In order to leverage this opportunity, Deloitte, a multinational professional services network, recommends that organisations should develop a different mindset towards Gen Z.

“To attract Gen Z, employers must be ready to adopt a speed of evolution that matches the external environment. That means developing robust training and leadership programs, with a real and tangible focus on diversity,” the company said.

Kemi Ogunkoya, a leadership development strategist, advised both individuals and employers to change their mindset and get familiar with reality.

“They are not lazy; their needs are just totally different. That is why we need to rethink our work culture and practices. The era of forcing people is gone; we should look at healthy integration and compromises to help achieve results,” she added.