Why employing the new generation of workers is as easy as XYZ

In 2017 the head of a US marketing firm caused a furore when he published a checklist of questions that, he suggested, employers and HR managers should ask during job interviews, to identify inappropriate recruits.

The questions, such as ‘when was the last time you cried?’ and ‘what does faith mean to you?’, were aimed at weeding out ‘whiny, entitled little brats’ according to the list’s author Kyle S. Reyes, president, and CEO of The Silent Partner Marketing.

Quickly dubbed the Snowflake Test, it was condemned by, mainly liberal, politicians, commentators, and business leaders, as a way of unfairly targeting younger workers.

You know the sort? The kind of employee who stages a work-to-rule if the smashed avocado on sourdough in the staff canteen is over-ripe, or who always phones in sick when Venus is on the cusp of Cancer.

Then, they were known as millennials – members of the generation born in the early 1980s, who came of age at the turn of the millennium.

Even without knowing their age you could spot them, in Starbucks, sucking their skinny triple espresso macchiato through their Peaky Blinders flat cap, while attempting to pay for it with Bitcoin.

Unlikely as it seemed then, millennials are now regarded as resilient, battle hardened Stakhanovites, when compared with the new kids on the block – welcome to the world of Gen Zers.

Millennials may have demanded a profit-share programme, electric car and cycle-to-work subsidies and enhanced sick-pay and pension contributions as a human right.

They might have reported you to the company’s diversity and sustainability committee if they didn’t get their free supply of fair-trade coffee that month.

And they wouldn’t have though twice about having you stripped of your Carer Positive Employer accreditation for making them speak to a customer on the phone…but at least they had a vague idea of the nature and requirements of paid employment.

As the torchbearers of tomorrow’s innovations, Gen Z professionals in the tech industry are poised to reshape the workforce landscape and there are already some worrying signs that the future may not be as bright as we would hope.

A survey conducted in the first quarter of 2023 sheds light on the motivations, workplace experiences, and attitudes of young tech professionals aged 20-30, offering insights into the dynamics of the Young Generation in Tech (YGIT).

With 2billion Gen Zers set to outnumber Baby Boomers in the workforce by the end of this year, understanding and addressing concerns about this demographic is paramount for organizations striving for success.

One of the main challenges facing businesses, when it comes to employing Gen Z workers, is the prevalence of misconceptions about work ethic and suitability for the workplace. Research indicates that up to 40% of business leaders view Gen Z graduates as unprepared for the workforce, leading to a reluctance to hire them.

While these perceptions may stem from genuine concerns, they often fail to capture the nuanced realities of working with Gen Z professionals.

Despite a reputation for being digital natives with a competitive spirit, more than half of Gen Z employees report feeling disengaged at work and disconnected from their colleagues and employers.

And who can blame them when so many obstacles are put in the way of them having a slay time? I mean, who could be bothered worrying about research and development when you haven’t ordered a Wagamama’s on UberEATS for two hours?

Why get sidetracked by boring stuff like revenue and business development when Georgia is making a TikTok reel of Barnaby doing the cinnamon challenge?

This disconnect not only impacts individual job satisfaction but also contributes to high turnover rates, with a significant portion of Gen Z workers intending to leave their jobs within two years.

The associated costs of turnover, including offboarding, lost productivity, and replacements, pose significant challenges for businesses striving to maintain a stable workforce.

To effectively engage Gen Z workers and improve retention rates, businesses must prioritize several key areas.

Perhaps a new employee test is required that gauges, not so much how young workers will handle challenging situations, but if they will actually every turn up for work and, if they do, how long they will stick around for.

Rather than asking how they view the police, or what they would do if they saw someone burning their country’s flag, questions could seek to measure their priorities, commitment, and resilience. A multiple choice quiz might include the following questions.

  1. You have 48 hours to file a patent application for a piece of proprietary software that could make or break or break your company. What do you do?
  1.  Go through the application with fine tooth comb, ensuring the documentation conforms in every detail to official requirements, and that the fee has been paid.
  2. Sit down with your patent attorney, dotting every I and crossing every T, to ensure nothing has been missed or misrepresented in the complex mix of law and technology.
  3. Binge watch Season 7 of Big Bang Theory.
  • Your start-up tech company has a meeting scheduled with a buyer from a large public sector organisation, whose order could ensure your long term survival, and you have been asked to make the prototype ready for demonstration. What do you do?
  1. Refine and make final changes to the prototype before advancing to the monitoring stage, to ensure that everything is in place.
  2. Work with developers to critically examine feedback and user data, until the last change has been made to the prototype as specified by the users.
  3. Take violent offence to the request and retreat to your bedroom to chart your emotional breakdown.
  • Your branch is to be visited by the company chairman and board of directors and your boss has asked you to prepare a schedule that includes a tour of the building. What do you do?
  1. Send a questionnaire round all the departments asking for performance data to impress the bigwigs.
  2. Work with the marketing department to prepare a video presentation, charting the main achievements of the branch over the past 12 months.
  3. Conduct a survey of your Instagram contacts asking if they prefer your hair parted or swept back?

If these questions don’t sort the wheat from the chaff then I don’t know what will. In the meantime, you and the rest of the millennials can get on with saving the economy and society from collapse.

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