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How a new generation of 'centennials' will evolve the way we work

Millennials have made radical changes to our working environments. Now it’s someone else’s turn.
Dec 1st 2017, 3:17 PM 1,098 0

FOR MORE THAN a decade now, millennials have been a prominent part of our working landscape.

The coming-of-age of this generation has been accompanied by impressive entrepreneurship, increased globalisation, disruptive mobile technology and of course the avocado toast debacle.

Discovering what motivates and matters to this cohort has been quite the learning curve for employers. But now that learning curve is shifting as a new generation matures: Generation Z.

So how will Gen Z affect the way we work and how will they differ from their Gen Y counterparts?

We spoke to Sinéad D’Arcy, manager of the Jameson International Graduate Programme, to find out what we can expect from ‘centennials’ in the workplace.

Changing the way we manage

“One of the biggest changes centennials bring to the workforce is a redefined role of the manager,” Sinéad said.

“We’ve seen it already with millennials – they don’t like to be managed, they want to be coached. Gen Zs will take this even further, looking for multiple mentors who they can learn from on a personal and a professional level,” she added.

Gen Z will be the most autonomous and ambitious generation yet with their priority being to expand their skillset and experience as quickly as possible. They’re a lot more pragmatic and results driven than their older counterparts, meaning managers need to be on top of their game to keep them challenged and motivated, says Sinéad.

“Centennials are really goal oriented and they want to know where they can add value from day one. They’re a great addition to the workforce once employers have solid KPIs and clear career progression,” she said.

Prioritising learning and development and promoting a coaching culture has been a huge element of Sinéad’s role managing the graduate programme.

“We’ve invested a lot of time in our management framework helping managers to mentor, coach and support grads in their development,” Sinéad said.

Job hopping

Today’s graduates are likely to have anywhere between 5 and 17 jobs over their careers. It’s not about permanent contracts anymore – Gen Zs care less about long term job security and more about fulfilment and job satisfaction.

Sinéad says that employers need to accept the ambition of this generation and look for ways to turn their entrepreneurial mindset into an intrapreneurial one.

“They look for variety of experience and the opportunity to build their own skills,” Sinéad said.

She believes that as a global brand, Jameson is well placed to offer grads the diverse experience they crave, including the option to work abroad in countries like Japan and Chile.

“It’s more than just a job on offer, it’s personal growth too,” Sinéad said.

Boomerang employees

Centennials may not stay in one company for the long haul – but they’re not averse to returning to a company either. The trend of boomerang employees is set to rise as employers accept a higher turnover rate and place greater emphasis on offboarding strategies, in the hope of luring great candidates back at a later stage in their career.

Sinéad says: “A lot of centennials are looking to turn a hobby or passion into a full time job. As employers we need to accept a natural churn – research shows that this generation are unlikely to stay in a company beyond 5 years.”

With long term retention rates being naturally lower, we’ll have to look to new ways to measure the effectiveness of management. Sinéad says the feedback from brand ambassadors is crucial in determining the success of the International Graduate Programme and that they’ve recently set up an alumni society to keep the community engaged even after they’ve finished up.

Mixing business and social

Gen Zs are true digital natives. They spend up to 15 hours a day online and are accustomed to multiple platforms, screens and devices. One way companies can leverage this is to use social strategies or techniques in their workplace communications too.

Sinéad says that Chatter is one tool they use for brand ambassadors which acts as an internal social channel. She believes it’s so effective because it mirrors how grads interact on their social platforms outside of work – it’s direct, it’s instant and it’s interactive.

“Gen Zs are natural collaborators who engage best with quick, short, snappy content,” she added.

Sinéad’s team have also started using WhatsApp to share documents and updates and message each other internally.

“Employers need to think mobile first and incorporate as much technology into their recruitment as possible,” she said.

From pool tables to biophilic design: The changing face of the modern office>

More: 6 key trends that will change your job in the future>

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Aoife Geary

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