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Generation Z In the workplace: how can energy companies leverage this talent pool?

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Oilfield Technology,

Since 2015, Generation Zero (or ‘Gen Z’), born between 1995 and 2010, has been entering the workforce and challenging the way we work. Known as technology natives, their high-tech upbringing is creating change in recruitment; from the very beginning of the hiring process right through to staff retention levels and the frequency at which employees change jobs.

Their entrance into the workplace also marks the beginning of a wider generational gap – with five generations now working together, demands are diversifying, and employers have new preferences to consider when harnessing the morale of their employees. With this being said, how can energy companies attract and retain this talent pool?

Resumes are changing

CV advice generally deters candidates from being overly personal and including images. But many recruiters are reporting a change in resumes submitted by Generation Z.

These resumes are no longer plain black-and-white documents; now recruiters are seeing CVs with artistic flourishes such as images, logos and icons to help illustrate a candidate’s previous positions, hobbies and education. Many candidates also include a headshot, with some going as far to use a digital image of themselves such as an avatar or a Bitmoji.

For some industries and job roles, for example, a graphic designer, creativity is encouraged to enable a resume to stand out from the crowd. But for other roles, such as a mechanical engineer position, artistic flourishes are not always needed. Context aside, some recruiters feel including icons and images is blurring the lines between creative flair and unprofessionalism:

“It’s difficult to say where the line is between creativity and what’s unprofessional – as an employer you should decide subjectively what kind of CV you want to receive with each role in mind,” said Max Robinson, Senior Recruitment Consultant, NES Global Talent. “As a candidate – it’s important to consider that it’s increasingly common for CV’s to go through an applicant tracking system (ATS). A simple word document made up of headings, paragraphs and bullet points will always transfer onto the ATS well. Having images, tables, multiple columns, text boxes etc. confuses most systems and can mean the version of your CV that gets stored and reviewed can be anywhere from messy to completely ineligible! Keep it in word and keep it simple. If you want to add something interesting to make yourself stand out, do so with the content!”

The generational gap is widening

With five generations working together, employers are identifying a generational gap which is increasing the complexity of being in a management position. Managers now have multigenerational teams with different work expectations creating challenges in the workplace. On top of this, according to EY 77% of Generation Z prefer to have a millennial manager over Generation X or baby boomers – this has increased by 10% since 2017.

This is leading to some Generation X employees to feel like they are being passed over for promotions compared to other generations. According to the Harvard Business Review, Gen X’s promotion rate has been consistently 20% slower than that of millennials despite the fact they also play a critical role in the workforce.

However, the generational gap can be combated. To do so, organisations should prioritise generational training to help colleagues better understand generational differences and commonalities, identify and teach employees how generational differences can affect communication, increase awareness for different generational needs and motivations and build relationships across generational divides. Running workshops that tackle these topics will enable better communication and collaboration, help to build positive working relationships and ensure all employees are engaged ensuring the generational gap doesn't continue to expand.

Generation Z are reliant on technology

Over 30% of Gen Z feels uncomfortable if they are away from their smartphone for 30 minutes which is not surprising – this generation is the first to have spent their entire lives with the internet, a mobile phone and a computer. It is estimated that over 98% of Gen Z own a smartphone and spend, on average, four hours online per day, so this truly digital generation expect social and digital technologies to be built into their working life. To adhere to this preference, many companies are beginning to implement apps to better communicate with their employees through their smartphones.

But while technology is important, it’s not enough. Even though Gen Z are the first fully digital generation, companies will do well to remember the importance of a human element.

According to EY, 90% of Gen Z prefers work in a team rather than working alone and 72% want face-to-face communication with their co-workers to create positive relationships at work. Having a combination of both cutting-edge technologies and opportunities for face-to-face collaboration is a winning combination for Gen Z.

It's not just about the paycheck

It’s no secret that everyone goes to work to receive a paycheck, but now more than ever before the salary associated with a role is not enough – Gen Z is changing the way we think about work. This generation is looking for ‘purposeful’ work at a company whose ethics align with theirs. They are also likely to change jobs up to 10 times between the ages of 18-34 to find the ‘right’ role and company for them.

To improve retention rates of this generation, companies need to provide more than financial rewards and make the effort to create a company culture that is appealing to them.

Some of the most important factors to Gen Z are:

1. A good work-life balance

In today’s workplace, 28% of young employees frequently feel ‘burnt out’ at work, which is 7% more than past generations. For Gen Z, striking a balance between work and life is critical and companies should encourage this to create a company culture Gen Z will feel satisfied with.

2. Learning and development opportunities

According to LinkedIn, an overwhelming 76% of Gen Z professionals feel that the skills needed in today’s workplace are different from the skills past generations needed, meaning opportunities to learn are high on their priority list. But bear in mind this learning must be delivered in a self-directed and independent platform - Gen Z approaches learning differently because they have always been able to instantly access knowledge through search engines such as Google.

3. Making time for Feedback

Even though this generation is highly digital and used to communicating socially online from an early age, 60% of Gen Z wants multiple check-ins from their manager each week and the remaining 40% want feedback from their manager daily. Managers who make time for regular check-ins may see an improvement in retention – even if the feedback takes the form of one or two sentences.

By implementing positive changes in the workplace such as offering workshops, advanced technology and a good work-life balance, energy companies will be able to successfully attract and retain the evolving Generation Z talent pool.

Author: Vicki Codd, NES Global Talent

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