Members of Generation Z (Gen Z) – the first to have grown up as ?digital natives? – are now joining and influencing the UK workforce. What should financial firms be doing to attract and retain their services – given that most GenZers expect to move jobs within two years?
Their aspirations have been captured in the report (from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC)) Groundbreakers: GenZ and the Future of Accountancy, which surveyed 9,000 respondents worldwide. ACCA’s Jamie Lyon presented its findings during a recent webinar, The Power of GenZ: Reshaping the future of the workplace.
Doubtless influenced by their experiences of the pandemic, Gen Z’s major concerns were job security (59 per cent) and wellbeing and mental health (51 per cent). Similar evidence emerged from an OECD survey, Young people’s concerns during Covid-19 ? half of respondents had experienced job-related disruption in the previous 18 months.
However, the pandemic was not the only negative factor. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2021 found that GenZ’s ?stability, job prospects, and mental health were at risk due to the climate crisis, inequality, violence and other social disruptions?.
Against this backdrop, what the World Economic Forum found ?most surprising is how optimistic our respondents were about the future. For example, 82 per cent feel hopeful about finding meaningful work.?
And the ACCA/IFAC investigation discovered that GenZers are keen to counter job insecurity by acquiring new capabilities and transferable skills. They see the portability of financial skills internationally and across different industries as a major benefit.
On wellbeing, employers should note that GenZers are ?attracted to firms that support their mental health and offer them a good work-life balance?. Jamie Lyon also observed that, as the pandemic’s impact begins to lessen, respondents? other concerns – sustainability (26 per cent) and inclusivity (22 per cent) – will grow in importance.
The GenZ-led 2019 climate change demonstrations sent a powerful message about the importance of sustainability and environmental awareness, a message reinforced by the COP26 marches. Unsurprisingly, only 39 per cent of ACCA/IFAC’s respondents ?believe businesses are currently pulling their weight in fighting climate change?.
Many of the protesters at the UK’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations of summer 2020 were from GenZ, which arguably shows that equality is central to their thinking. And EY’s report on ‘the new normal? emphasised the point that employers have to demonstrate a clear social purpose and ?make a genuine commitment to equality and be transparent about progress?.
How should firms go about developing this generation’s distinctive talents and skills? The Groundbreakers report says two leading employer strategies were to ‘tap into their digital mastery? and ‘think intrapreneurship?, given that ?GenZ have a natural entrepreneurial flair?.
This flair is addressed in a Bloomberg blog on the GenZ side-hustle: ?online marketplaces such as Etsy, Depop and Fiverr are making setting up shop to sell goods easier and cheaper than ever – especially for young digital natives?.
These digital natives are equally adept at conducting business in-person, often reinforced by social media promotion. Their ease in moving between physical and digital spaces means that employers need to offer flexibility to new members of staff, recognising the different requirements of each individual. In a Locatee/YouGov poll conducted in June, 70 per cent of GenZ favoured a hybrid working model.
GenZers expect to be rewarded on actual achievements and outcomes. They ?won’t tolerate archaic views or practices?, as university recruitment specialist Paloma Shah explained to the Journal of Accountancy. Organisational hierarchies are archaic. For example, we see that GenZers at audit firms are drawn to our solution, Confirmation, as it’s a modern approach to audit confirmations, while using paper, fax or email in such financial processes is archaic.
Financial sector employers must respond to GenZers? resourcefulness and enterprise by investing in modern, innovative technologies and work-life balance. These will give free rein to their digital mastery and enable them to pursue their own creative ideas to the benefit of the whole organisation.