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How COVID-19 Will Impact the Next-Generation Workforce

The impacts of COVID-19 will irrevocably change the workplace and the way the next generation looks at it.

During TechServe Alliance’s “The Future of Work – Ways COVID-19 Will Impact the Next-Generation Workforce” webinar, generations expert Ryan Jenkins led the discussion on understanding and strategizing ways to engage Generation Z for when they enter the workforce in the eventual post-pandemic era.

“The next generation provides data points into what’s next,” Jenkins said. “They’re not absolutes. But they’re very big clues on how you lead, communicate, recruit, sell and fill in the blanks.”

He added that Gen Z – which currently represents individuals ages 5 to 22 years old – will encounter a lot of tension and obstacles linked to work and the pandemic. But there are ways to forge a connection between the workforce and this burgeoning generation.

Based on data and research, Jenkins highlights eight specific ways COVID-19 will change the future of workforce as they relate to the staffing and recruitment of Gen Z, with the most detail and emphasis on the first six:

  1. A deeper dependence on technology: Because of the pandemic, everyone is leaning more into technology, Jenkins said. While Gen Z was practically born into an age of technology, data shows that 72 percent of them still want face-to-face interaction at work. To reconcile these two things, Jenkins suggested using new and creative channels for recruiters to connect with Gen Z candidates, like a platform that reaches them via text (the generation’s most preferred method of communication) before moving into a face-to-face conversation.
  2. Entering the workforce sooner: Research shows that 62 percent of Gen Z are open to the idea of entering the workforce before completing a college degree. In addition to this, the likelihood of a longer life expectancy for this generation means their careers may be longer, which will motivate them to pursue constant reinvention of themselves and continuous education to stay relevant in the marketplace.
  3. A revised view of employers: The top platform the next generation is using to learn about employers is YouTube. This platform can be used to visualize what a company’s work space and team look like, Jenkins explained. This leads to one strategy on how to attract Gen Z candidates, which is to deliver a vivid video of the work at an organization. Jenkins added that employers can also take it one step further and showcase the cities their work is located in since Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to choose a city before they choose a job.
  4. A demand for high EQ leaders: The top two factors Gen Z desires from employers are supportive leadership and positive relationships at work. If they feel dissatisfied or disengaged, they’re literally a finger swipe away from going somewhere else, Jenkins said. He predicts this next generation will come to value emotional intelligence more as the world continues to advance its technology. Elevating the employee experience can also involve the organization’s programs, policies, perks and impacts it has on its people.
  5. Unconventional educational backgrounds: The next generation’s potential for a longer life span and career puts the value of a four-year degree into question. Data reveals that 67 percent of Gen Z indicate that their top concern is the affordability of college and 65 percent of youth entering school today will work in jobs that do not currently exist. More educational alternatives are arising. Some options to be aware of include an education that’s 100 percent remote and digital, possibly one fourth of the time commitment and an eighth of the cost of an average college tuition.
  6. An enhanced value on learning and development: Within the emerging generation, 80 percent said an emphasis on personal growth is the most important quality of the company’s culture. Moreover, 71 percent of this generation who are likely to leave an organization in two years are dissatisfied with the leadership and development. This means employers must encourage and support continuous learning as both leadership and development become more important to this generation moving forward.

The last two changes to embrace are uncommon career paths and greater global unity.

“There’s certainly more than this, but I think these eight are really the crux of what we’ve seen changing,” Jenkins said. “I think we all have to be a little bit more creative in setting up the opportunities for this next generation to learn and develop.”

To learn more about generations expert, Ryan Jenkins, visit