Why millennials and Gen Z would rather work for themselves than you
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Why millennials and Gen Z would rather work for themselves than you

21 May 2018939 Views

If you have been challenged by millennial employees, then get ready for them plus Gen Z warns Cheryl Cran.

Gen Zs are those born between 1995 and 2010 and they will represent 25pc of the US population by the year 2020.

With millennials, the two generations’ desire to choose entrepreneurship over ‘jobs’ are making it really tough for employers to recruit and retain.

Millennials have been labeled by baby boomers and Gen Xs as lazy, disengaged and disloyal when, in fact, millennials see themselves as creative, resourceful and loyal to those who treat them well.

Millennials have been leading the movement towards choosing to be entrepreneurs rather than work for an employer. In fact, according to a BNP Paribas report, millennials are leading the rate of entrepreneurial ventures over any previous generation.

The main driver for millennials being their own boss is freedom, flexibility and control over money as it contributes to lifestyle.

Generation Zs do not consider themselves like millennials in that they are willing to take more risk and do what it takes to own their own business.

Gen Z has become the most entrepreneurial generation in history. More than 60pc of high school students say they would rather be entrepreneurs instead of employees, as do 43pc of college students.

Gen Zs are choosing to create their own business over going to college. They are favoring the opportunity to learn through real-life business rather than go into student debt to learn something that may or may not be relevant to their career.

Traditional learning and time spent on classroom learning is viewed as being ‘too slow’ by the future-focused Gen Z. Recent estimates find that, by 2020, Gen Z will make up 40pc of e-learning customers.

Why can’t I attract millennials and Gen Z employees?

Depending on the industry, many businesses still operate on the nine-to-five model or a variation of that model. Traditional industries are still focused on a fixed office location and set hours – this makes it unappealing to Gen Zs and millennials who favour working wherever they want.

Millennials and Gen Zs are attracted to activities that inspire them. They want to work on projects that are creative, that solve a world problem and that let them use their unique skills. Most businesses still offer ‘jobs’ versus meaningful work.

Millennials and Gen Zs are looking for inspiring leaders who will help them grow, who will mentor them to success and who will share everything they know to help the career goals of the millennials and Gen Zs.

Currently in business, there are many leaders who are still operating from the leadership style of ‘command and control’ and have not made the shift towards collaborative and team focused leadership.

Gen Zs see zero boundaries to creating their future – they see the ever-increasing technology innovations as their ticket to creating an abundant future. Many current jobs are not set up to ‘solve’ a problem – they are simply task-focused.

Gen Zs and millennials thrive on the real-time outcomes of bringing an idea to fruition very quickly. Many times in current business the time it takes to get a creative idea into rapid production can be months. This is snail time in the mind of a Gen Z.

How to attract millennials and Gen Zs

The good news is that you can still attract and engage these generations but not in the ways that may have worked in the past.

Any company that has high integration of robotics, AI and automation will have greater appeal to Gen Zs and millennials as they want to leverage and collaborate with technology to innovate the business.

Gen Zs and millennials are tired of the paradox of having no experience and missing opportunities. A great strategy is to model what is being done in South Africa with ‘learnerships’ an approach being used by educators and employers where the workers are educated and are paid to learn on the job.

Shift the structure of your company towards creating meaningful projects and meaningful work.

Companies can attract and engage more Gen Zs and millennials as freelancers and contractors. With the rise of working for yourself, Gen Zs and millennials will be looking for clients just like you to work on projects.

Set up the company with multiple ways of working such as remote working, projects, team projects with senior leaders, and reverse mentoring (where the millennials or Gen Zs mentor upwards).

Leaders need to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset of millennials and Gen Zs and seek to inspire and consistently provide career path insights, growth opportunities and recognition and reward for work well done.

The bottom line is that millennials and Gen Zs are going to pursue entrepreneurism because of the allure of freedom, of reward for interesting work and the ability to earn as much as they need to support their lifestyle.

If you can offer them the same things then they will be happy to freelance or contract with you and if they really see you as a partner they may work with you long term.

By Cheryl Cran

Cheryl Cran is a future-of-work expert and author of The Art of Change Leadership: Driving Transformation in a Fast-Paced World.

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