21st century candidates
We love to talk about millennials in the recruitment world, don’t we? Generation Z too. Digital natives; tech savvy; social media experts, the lot of them. These generations changed the workplace, with their disruptive trends, entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas. But before long, there will be a new generation in town. And they’re really going to shake things up.
We’re talking about Generation Alpha - the children of our much-loved millennials.
Yes, granted, the oldest members of this group are yet to graduate junior school, but we already know that they will be the most diverse, socially-conscious, wealthiest, most educated and technologically literate generation in history.
No pressure there, hey kids?
Generation Alpha spans 2011 to 2024 - millions of them aren’t even born yet - so we won’t see them entering the workforce for a little while yet. But we know they are more likely to start their careers earlier and they will be working for longer.
The focus must now shift from organisations targeting Gen Alpha as consumers, to considering them as future candidates.
So, what will be their impact on the workplace?
1. They won’t work for an organisation that doesn’t align to their values
Influenced by their millennial parents and Gen Z role models, Alphas will be characterised by their ethics and values. As a result, they will look for employers that align with those values, and support causes they care about. They will be strong advocates for diversity and inclusivity, equal pay, and seeing women in positions of power. They will be activists for climate change and a variety of social issues. And they will look for employers whose purpose does not focus solely on making a profit, but benefiting society.
2. They will be champions of mental wellbeing
As children of millennials (Generation Y), Alphas are being raised to be the most actively health conscious and wellbeing focused generation yet. But they are also likely to suffer with more mental health problems. And this will ultimately feed into their working lives. It will be in the best interest of employers to pay more attention to and look after the mental and physical wellbeing of their employees, in order to keep them and the organisation performing well. Employers must be prepared to be flexible, to promote a good work-life balance, and to educate themselves around mental health matters, to better support their people.
3. They will expect a technologically advanced workplace
Generation Alpha is growing up in a digital age. And, unsurprisingly, this means they’ll expect their office to be as ‘smart’ as they are. They already have access to advanced technology at a younger age than any other generation, and when they enter the workplace, they will want access to more information and more resources via the best tech available. They will look to technology to create a seamless work experience, and look to their employers to provide that technology. They won’t settle for old fashioned offices that are slow to adapt to new technologies - they will expect innovation.
4. They have grown up with social media and instant gratification
Alphas have also grown up in a world heavily influenced by social media, and, as a result, instant gratification. They won’t have patience for anything less than 5G speed or instant messaging - instant answers even, thanks to the rise of smart speakers at home. Translating this behaviour into the workplace means they will expect immediate reward and recognition - more face time with managers, more real-time feedback and more praise for a job well done.
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to today’s workforce; in a decade’s time, there will be five very different generations of workers, meaning five very different approaches to work. It’s up to each and every organisation to prepare for and adapt to the changes that are on the horizon.
Accommodating this new generation, in addition to the changing attitudes of their predecessors, will determine whether your business flourishes or fails in the long term. Because if we don’t change, we don’t grow.