Lloyd Humphreys, Senior Product Manager for Data and Analytics at Tradeshift, tells us about the importance of investing in relevant technology to ensure your business remains attractive to potential recruits.
Gen Z is different, they say. Newcomers to the workforce have a strong preference for “experiences” over possessions, possess a strong sense of social justice, and have absolutely no interest in working in a job that doesn’t equip them with technology necessary to keep their skills current.
Pre-Covid, these expectations might have led to little more than a wry smile from HR departments. But as the pandemic wanes, companies are finding themselves faced with a “big resignation” as workers reassess what they want from their careers. This is particularly strong among younger employees, with several researchers finding that between half and three-quarters of Gen Z workers plan to change jobs in the next year.
Launch a rush for top talent, fueled by offers for better salaries, more benefits and greater flexibility. But are workplace yoga sessions, free fruit, and working from home really the best way to attract the brightest and best of Gen Z? Could the answer be something more fundamental: the technology employees use to do their jobs?
Generation Z cares about how technology is transforming job specifications and opening new avenues for autonomy, responsibility and job satisfaction.
A survey conducted by Dell before the pandemic found that an astonishing 91% of Gen Z respondents say the technology offered by an employer would determine their decision when choosing between similar job openings.
It’s not just young workers either: a study by Hays Recruitment found that half of all employees would be attracted to an organization that shows a strong commitment to investing in technology such as automation.
Employers are also starting to realize this, with more than a third actively touting their investment in digital transformation as a way to recruit talent during the interview process.
To illustrate, let’s look at a business area that has rarely, if ever, been at the forefront of technology investment or innovation: accounts payable (AP). This is a department notorious for holding on to outdated technology long past its expiration date, and in many cases remains reliant on paper-based processes long after the rest of the organization has gone fully digital.
It is remarkable that in the third decade of this digital century, the proliferation of paper remains one of the biggest challenges facing AP, with Ardent Partners finding that nearly a third of professionals cite it as a top concern. .
Attracting Gen Z to AP is a hard sell at the best of times. The work is difficult, repetitive, and workers can only use mandated tools. There is little scope for innovation or autonomy as the scope of the role is necessarily limited by the systems already in place.
Things are very different when a department adopts modern digital tools that are customizable by design. These allow a company to move to a truly community-based employment model where everyone can contribute ideas for new apps, workflows, and other tools — or even code them themselves.
Instantly, every employee gains a whole new perspective on work: it’s no longer something you do for a paycheck or to please your supervisor, but becomes an occupation where your contribution – to your colleagues, to your and to the company at large – is only limited. by your talent, your imagination and your ambition.
Many companies like to talk about how they’re changing the world, and Gen Z knows how to distinguish between those who think so and those who don’t. If a company can show that it is using technology to rethink roles and give workers responsibility and agency, it will make younger people sit up and take notice. And it will do wonders for an even bigger monster of recruiters: retention.
Several studies have highlighted the line between employee dissatisfaction and burnout. If people don’t have the tools to do their jobs efficiently or spend most of their time dealing with manual inputs like a stoker shoveling coal into a boiler, they won’t get the notice or praise that makes such a difference in morale. Instead, they end up feeling like robots whose job is just to spin the wheels.
Compare that to workers who are allowed — or better, encouraged — to write a bit of code or suggest an improvement in operations, and then see it adopted by their department. There is no feeling more satisfying or invigorating.
In the post-pandemic landscape, digital transformation has become imperative as businesses seek new strategies, new operating models, and innovations to drive them forward.
If a company doesn’t think Gen Z has a contribution to make to this mission, it won’t have much of a chance to entice them to join. So think about what your next job posting will look like: will it simply contain a list of responsibilities and requirements, or will it be a call for new hires to play a central role in shaping your the future of your business?
With the right technology, you can ensure that your company is the most attractive for all candidates, today and for many generations to come.
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