Around one in four (26%) of Generation Z workers say their company isn’t doing enough to attract the younger generation.
This is according to a new report from software and services provider Advanced, which also reveals that 20% of the 500 people surveyed say a lack of diversity and multi-generation experience will hold their company back from adopting new technology.
Who are Generation Z?
Born between the mid-1990s and mid-2010s, Generation Z are the first demographic cohort to have completely grown up with the internet and social media. They differ from their predecessors, Millennials, who came of age in the 2000s and can remember life before the ubiquity of the internet.
Generation Z have now entered the workforce, so are comfortable with technology in a way that older generations may not be.
What are the benefits of a diverse workforce?
In the case of Generation Z, it can be easy for organisations to pigeonhole younger workers as ‘inexperienced’ and give them roles that do not fully take advantage of their digital skills.
Providing roles based on their skills, knowledge and talents may not be avoidable for too much longer – both Generation Z and Millennials currently account for 38% of the workforce, and that figure is expected to shoot up to 58% during this new decade.
Employers may find themselves missing out on talented employees if they ignore their strengths. As such, the new generation has been described as a “silver bullet” for making organisations become digital by default.
The problem some employers have is an unconscious bias of only recruiting people who are like-minded or from a similar background to themselves. They may feel that this is a good way of building a cohesive workforce, but ultimately it will have its limitations.
Increased creativity and productivity
Employees from different backgrounds will bring a variety of solutions on how to achieve goals. People from similar backgrounds may have a similar view over how things should be done – but not necessarily the right one.
The more ideas available will increase the likelihood of finding a solution that works. Having managers from a range of backgrounds can bring new skills and experiences that can benefit the organisation.
Enhanced employer brand
Talented people looking for jobs will be far more attracted to firms that are free from discrimination. Potential employees will want a guarantee that an employer will treat them fairly, regardless of gender, race or age.
An employer with a diverse workforce is also better placed to retain their best performers. For example, if an employee believes they cannot possibly progress within a company due to reasons other than their ability, then they’ll have little option but to move on and take their expertise with them.
Better reputation with customers
It has become increasingly difficult for businesses to hide a lack of diversity. One example is the gender pay gap. Any employer with more than 250 employees has to publish the discrepancy between what they pay men and women in the organisation on average.
This led to some embarrassing publicity for some large organisations such as Barclays, easyJet and the BBC.
Having a more diverse cross section of employees can help a business cater for their customers better.
In 2014, the nearly 12 million disabled people in the UK were estimated to have a combined disposable income of around £80 billion. Figures from 2017 reveal that only 3.4 million disabled people are in employment.
Organisations that employ disabled workers should be able to provide a better service to suit their needs, and give the organisation a significant competitive advantage. The same would apply to customers in other demographic groups.
How can I attract a diverse workforce?
The best way to build a forward-thinking organisation is by recruiting people based on what they can offer professionally rather than because of their age, sex, religion, marital status or any other characteristic.
The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that these are protected characteristics, and it is against the law to discriminate because of them.
For example, a business owner may hire someone who they see as a ‘younger version of themselves’ who ‘needs a chance’. However, another applicant may have the same experience and qualifications required for the job, if not better.
They may claim to an employment tribunal that the only reason they weren’t hired was due to their cultural background as it differed from that of the employer. The employer may not have intended it, but this unconscious bias could be considered discriminatory.
Indirect discrimination can occur when a particular feature of the job or recruitment process serves to exclude a certain demographic. In the case of Generation Z, they’re far more likely to search for jobs online, especially on social media. If an employer chose to only advertise jobs in the local (print) newspaper, then this could be seen as indirect discrimination.
Recruitment processes can be further refined to reduce the change of discrimination and increase the diversity of candidates.
Job adverts should use inclusive language that doesn’t just appeal to a certain demographic. An advert that states the employer wants a ‘top salesman’ would certainly be direct discrimination against female candidates.
This would also be the case regarding age; looking for a “recent graduate”, or someone who is “youthful” or “energetic” would exclude older applicants. Employers should take care when asking for qualifications too, such as prioritising GCSEs over O-Levels.
Organisations can also embrace flexible working. Many potential job applicants may not be able to commit to traditional working hours due to family commitments, but would apply if they could alter their hours or place of work.
A survey from conference call firm Powwownow revealed that three quarters of employees in the UK favour a job that gives them the option to work flexibly and are more likely to accept a role in an organisation that offers such a schedule.