A friend of mine has been job hunting for the past six months. When we spoke on the phone recently she lamented about the horrible treatment employers have been doling out–from outright ignoring her to rescinding offers to sending her an email simply stating she didn’t get the job after she went through several rounds of interviews and was told at one of the interviews she would get the job.
Really, people –could your behavior be any worse? Aren’t you supposed to be professionals concerned about such monumental, irreplaceable things like employer branding and customer service and ethics?
It reminds me of that song in the musical Chicago that queries Whatever Happened to Class?.
When did good manners and ethics take a leave of absence from the workforce? The companies that treat their prospects like dirt are either being really short-sighted or really aren’t companies you want to work for in the first place.
By 2015, Baby Boomers will cede the majority of the workforce to Generation Y. It will be the largest shift in human capital in history. While the unemployment rate has been soaring lately, that number is about to come crashing down amidst retirement waves and post-recession talent turnover.
In other words, companies will soon find themselves in a talent shortage and the roles will be reversed. Every company out there will be vying for talent, and the way a company treats its prospective talent now will determine its fate when the shortage finally hits.
But even without taking all that into consideration, what right-thinking company would drive talent away? It sounds unbelievable, yet we see it happening every day.
Here are just a few of the many ways businesses are behaving badly:
Alas, what goes around comes around.
It isn’t a new story that hiring managers sometimes treat job candidates badly, but now job candidates are getting a bit of revenge when they broadcast their poor treatment to millions of others via social media.
The result is that companies are seeing their carefully crafted public image come unhinged as insulted interviewees recount everything from unprofessionalism to discrimination – and the news is spreading far and wide to other job seekers and even company customers.
A damaged public image can impact everything from being able to recruit top talent to attracting customers, especially since job candidates also may be customers.
Steer clear of employers who beat away talent with a stick, and if your firm is one of those places, sound the alarm. There’s no time to waste. Talent-unfriendly employers aren’t the ones most likely to thrive in the global marketplace.
In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.
Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.
Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.
In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.
With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.
Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.
Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.
Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.
Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.
In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.
While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.
The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.
Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results. Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.
When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.
Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.
Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.
Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.
Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.
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