Gen-Z problems | Are businesses really ditching younger talent due to frustration?

Are businesses really ditching younger talent due to frustration?

We’re constantly hearing of businesses being forced to adapt to the shifting expectations of the modern workforce.

Even the most traditional of firms have been coerced kicking and screaming into progressive practices such as hybrid or flexible working, focusing on ESG or revising decades-old hiring practices.

This is, largely, fuelled by the perpetual need to get young skilled professionals to pick your company over a competitor.

This is a huge challenge for businesses. Last year, YouGov data found that only 28% of UK businesses were equipped to attract young workers and accommodate their needs, whilst nearly three-quarters of businesses felt that they were at risk of losing younger workers as a result of not-good-enough workplace experiences.

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Younger workers have acclimated to the concept of, essentially, browsing for employers. A candidate-driven market acutely felt over the past several years, culminating in the ‘great resignation’ meant that luring this demographic became a main concern for many.

Yet it seems that, as a direct result of this, a number of businesses are turning their back on younger workers, unwilling to bend to their wants and expectations.

According to recent data published in the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Survey, some organisations are now having so much trouble with holding on to younger staff, that they’re adopting policies of no longer seeking to recruit anyone under the age of 21.

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The data, which covers the period between April and June of 2023, explores a host of areas such as cashflow, profitability, investment, confidence, skills and recruitment, and international trade.

It notes that recruitment has been one of the biggest concerns highlighted in the survey for the past 18 months, but this is the first time any of the respondents have commented about specific problems they are having with younger recruits.

Ruth Ross, the Chamber's Chief Executive, recently discussed the issue with the BBC. "Getting the right staff is still proving difficult. Interview no-shows, or younger recruits not even completing their first week, is hampering the manufacturing industries," she said.

What does this mean for your business?

Simply ignoring the emerging the issues young people have with businesses is not an option. Many businesses who may have experienced problems attracting and retaining Gen-Z and beyond may wish to look inward at their culture and practices.

If staff aren’t staying beyond their initial first few weeks in a job, this is an indication that something within the company’s culture or operating model is fundamentally broken.

Some may wish to reach out to their people with anonymous surveys to ascertain what is driving people away, whilst others may consider the elements listed above; does your business offer flexible working? Does it consider its moral and environmental impact? Are hiring practices inclusive and appealing to a range of demographics? These are questions all businesses should be constantly looking to answer and assess.

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