As your organisation looks to the future, and more specifically, the future of its workforce, it would be foolish to ignore the trends being displayed by the Gen Z workforce. These are the people who, soon enough, will be taking up the mantle and continuing the legacy you have tirelessly built.

Indeed, when looking at the trends displayed locally, a recent survey reported that 42.2 per cent of respondents, who are exclusively made up of Malta’s Gen Z workforce, would ditch their current job for lower pay, if it meant finding more fulfilment elsewhere.

This statistic puts a spotlight on today’s youngest workers’ quest for purpose and priorities beyond the paycheck. It’s also a clear indication that employer branding matters! Why? Because it’s the vehicle for organisations to convey and showcase their purpose and who they really are as an employer.  

Born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z are the first generation to have grown up with the internet woven into everyday life. While often labelled as entitled, Gen Z are pragmatic go-getters, laser-focused on finding meaning in their work and advancing their careers.  

And with Gen Z soon-enough becoming the world’s largest generation, organisations simply cannot ignore their needs and expectations around purpose, flexibility, development, work-life balance – and fair remuneration.

Getting your facts right about the Gen Z talent landscape  

It’s very easy to ignore, and possibly ‘reject’, the realities around the Gen Z talent landscape because their workplace needs and expectations are so different to what we’ve known so far. Many leaders may struggle to digest such ‘demands’ that in our eyes are not merited. But ignoring the voice of this generation  is a massive business risk.  

Here are some ‘harsh’ facts reflected in Maltese and European Gen Zs:
  

  • 42.2% of respondent’s state they would ditch their current job for lower pay if it meant finding more fulfilment elsewhere*. 
  • 59.9% of Malta’s Gen Z value flexible working, while learning and growth is a top priority for full-timers looking for a job.* 
  • Unsatisfactory salary and lack of work-life balance are the highest rated reasons for quitting a job*
  • 34% of respondents are very satisfied with their work/life balance in 2023, compared to 21% in 2019, showing that organisations are moving in this direction and/or Gen Z are creating their own boundaries around this.** 
  • 35% of respondents Gen Zs selected the cost of living as a top concern in 2023, compared to 29% in 2022 and 51% of Gen Zs are living paycheck to paycheck in 2023, compared to 46% in 2022. These states increase demands on salary and benefit expectations.** 

Responding to the Gen Z talent landscape for a business of the future    

Adopting the same people management practices you’ve adopted for the past five, 10 and 15 years is going to restrict your growth and profitability. It’s a very simple formula: no employees, equals no opportunity for business growth. Unfulfilled employees, equals less sales. 

So, the question becomes, how can you up your game as an employer? How can you start moving into a direction to become ‘Gen Z-friendly’? 

Here are a couple of aspects to reflect upon  

  • Build a purpose-driven organisation and communicate your “why” through authentic employer branding (and not recruitment marketing!).
    • Realise how inclusivity, diversity and social responsibility have a direct impact on your employer brand i.e. your reputation as an employer.  
  • Emphasise and ensure learning, training, and advancement opportunities within the organisation. Get creative with transferable skills and career journeys!
  • Work towards a leadership culture of open communication, continuous feedback and autonomy. Gen Z expect dialogue with their managers, together with the possibility of giving input into their work. Old school hierarchies are simply not appreciated!  
  • Understand what competitive compensation and benefits looks like in your industry.  A fair salary matters.
  • Take a position on work-life balance, flexible schedules, and wellbeing knowing how important this is to Gen Z. 

In conclusion  

Shifting into a new way of people management with the assumed risk of ‘less profit’ can be scary, and uncomfortable – for small or large organisations alike. Yet time and time again research shows that organisations who put people before profit end up with more profit.  

It’s easy to shut off the Gen Z workplace conversation assuming it’s all about more salary and better benefits, but when you look at the facts and dig deeper the reality there’s more to this conversation. Gen Z workplace needs and expectations are challenging us in adapting our ways of doing business and leading people. And changing behaviours is much harder than throwing money at an issue!

Gen Z’s want to contribute to an organisation that has a bigger purpose than making money, they want to have a voice to share their views with their manager, while learning and progressing as fast as possible with the help of continuous feedback. They also want to ensure their workload enables them to peruse interests outside of work.

Understanding and adapting your people management practices to Gen Z work needs and expectations, cannot be perceived as a luxury if you truly want to have an organisation of the future. 

*Employment trends among young people in Malta – FreeHour 2023 

**Deloitte Global 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey 

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