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On HR teams’ to-do lists: Making Gen Z part of the team

On HR teams’ to-do lists: Making Gen Z part of the team
31-03-23 / Dalene Sechele

On HR teams’ to-do lists: Making Gen Z part of the team

In my previous article I focused on two human-capital trends that are playing out and reshaping workplaces around the world – the renewed focus on employee wellbeing and increasing cost pressures on HR teams’ recruitment strategies.

The third big human-capital ‘trend’ relates to Gen Z and integrating this young cohort of workers into teams and workplaces. Older Gen Zs began work before the pandemic, but the youngest members of this generation found their first jobs during the pandemic.

Therefore, many have not yet found their feet. It's our role to make sure they adjust to organisational culture and settle in, hybrid work notwithstanding.

Of course, there are older employees who also joined companies during Covid-19, but this trend is more pronounced among younger staff members.

Employees expect more

Because there is a growing emphasis on servant leadership, employees are coming to expect more from their workplaces.

However, the challenge is that many expect to receive more than they give, and the shift in the psychological contract between employers and employees needs to be addressed.

At Old Mutual, we work hard to create a caring, supportive environment that fosters a culture of engagement and human interaction. We make time and space for people to connect and celebrate their successes.

At the same time, the way in which we lead must make it clear that a sense of entitlement is not optimal in the workplace. Leading an organisation through a crisis is challenging and very different to leading in a time of stability and prosperity.

Helping Gen Z employees to integrate

Gen Z employees, in particular, question the need to be in an office at all. There’s no doubt that hybrid and remote work have diluted company culture, but Gen Z employees still need a sense of belonging.

Being digital natives, this generation often lacks the social skills that are learnt by being present in a workplace where relationship-building and networking are part of day-to-day interactions. They are also not used to dealing with the pressures older generations are familiar with.

Human-capital professionals and line managers must therefore support them to become more resilient, especially where mental-health issues are evident. A focus on wellbeing can assist, along with the understanding that the pandemic has taken everyone out of their comfort zones.

Driving diversity and inclusion in organisations

Companies have shifted from pure compliance around diversity to embracing the impact and value of different perspectives. In the South African context, diversity is not just about ethnicity, though.

It’s also about gender, age, people with disabilities and the LGBTQIA+ community. This is a very big requirement for a generation of employees who are more socially aware and expect more from organisations as far as social consciousness is concerned.

Old Mutual’s human-capital team focuses on a concerted drive to raise awareness and enable managers to actively increase diversity. This includes encouraging an inclusive culture, taking an inside-out approach and managing their own unconscious biases or misconceptions.

We are proud that our parental-leave policy supports inclusion and diversity and recognises that family structures take many forms. We acknowledge that men can be the primary caregiver. Diverse families exist and we want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to raise a family without being concerned about a loss of income or benefits – unlike previous generations for whom a baby meant becoming virtually unemployable and resulted in a loss of income for a significant period.

We have to be – and are – deliberate about creating an inclusive environment in which people can be themselves.

*Dalene Sechele is the Executive: Corporate Engagement at Old Mutual Corporate. This article featured in the Old Mutual Corporate Resource Hub.

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