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Kiwi 'Gen Zers' crave learning & development in their jobs

10 Jun 2019
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New Zealand’s Generation Z (those born between 1996 and 2012) may be bogged down with student loan debt, but they’re more than ready to commit to an employer that offers learning, development, and the ability to succeed in their careers.

Those are some of the insights from a study by Nintex, which says that Gen Z values opportunities to grow in their careers over salary and long-term earning potential, despite 80% of New Zealand Gen Zers enter the workforce in debt from student loans.

The Gen Z Effect in New Zealand: Understanding your newest employees' views on work, corporate culture, automation and you study says Gen Zers are happy to commit to employers, provided their values align.

Gen Z employees have clear career ambitions that first appear at university and follow them into the workforce. The study reveals "personal interest" is the primary motivator in selecting their focus of study at university, not long-term earning potential. 

According to the study, 42% of Gen Zers cite "new learning opportunities" and 61% cite "expected career growth" as the most important factors for job selection.  Only 31% of respondents cited salary as one of the most important factors in the job selection process.

What’s more, the absence of long-term growth opportunities could send about one-third of Gen Z employees searching for a new job sooner than planned. 

On the other hand, company leaders, evidently do not understand their youngest employees' motivations. When asked why Gen Z employees might leave a role sooner than planned, 61% of decision makers thought it would be for a better-paying job, while 31% attribute attrition to slow promotion timelines. 

"Employers who appreciate the personal interests, values and career ambitions of their Gen Z employees and effectively coach and train these young professionals, while celebrating good work and meeting in person, will have happily committed Gen Zers in the workplace,” comments Nintex chief evangelist Ryan Duguid.

"People are your most important asset in today's tech-driven workplaces. Empower your employees, including Gen Z, to make wise choices and select technologies that improve how everyone works as it is people who are critical to ensuring your business and all of your processes are the best they can be." 

Key findings:

Meet Gen Z in real life (IRL): Gen Z may be stereotyped as "screenagers", but their preference is for frequent, in-person communication with their manager. Almost all (94%) Gen Z employees prefer in-person check-ins with their manager over virtual meetings. Of that group, three-quarters want every check-in to be in person rather than through collaboration platforms. These conversations can prove fruitful for the Gen Z employee and for the company. Overwhelmingly (89%), Gen Z feels their managers are open to their ideas for improvement, while the managers Nintex surveyed report that about one in every five suggestions from a Gen Z employee regarding improvements to process, technology or tools are adopted.

Gen Z is not fazed by tech troubles: Gen Z is able to solve their own tech problems as well as their managers'. In fact, more than half (53%) of Gen Z employees say they have been asked to fix a superior's tech issue. When Gen Z encounters tech problems at work, fewer than 40% said that they would submit a formal request. Instead, the notable majority (61%) will either solve the problem themselves by Googling it, ask a colleague for help, or solve through trial and error. Managers are fully aware of Gen Z's tech aptitude, with 76% of managers acknowledging that Gen Z is more tech savvy than they are.

Leaders worried by potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation for future generations: Both Gen Z and decision makers see the opportunity in technologies like AI and automation, with the notable majority of Gen Z workers (75%) and decision makers (82%) stating that automation has the potential to make their job easier. The two groups are also in agreement when it comes to concerns for new technology as it relates to their own job security. Forty-three percent of Gen Z employees are concerned about the impact of automation on their job security, and 45% of decision makers said the same. But when asked about Gen Z job security, not their own, more than half (53%) of decision makers are concerned about the impact of automation on the career prospects of their youngest employees.