Welcoming Gen Z to the workforce

Attract and Retain the Next Generation of Rising Stars

What makes a potential leader? It is the number one question that most organizations grapple with today. While there is no one predictor that wins out above all, research has revealed that there are specific personality traits that tend to be more present in high potentials. And despite the emphatic hype, it seems that the younger generation of leaders possesses plenty of high potential talent.

As part of its CEOx1Day program – which matches top post-secondary students with leading Canadian CEOs for a day – global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson has learned a lot about the qualities that make up our future leaders. Together with its partner Hogan Assessments, the recruitment firmcompiled psychometric data examining the key traits of today’s CEOs versus their much younger, Generation Z (“Gen Z”, those born between 1995 and 2005) counterparts. The result? Despite the 30- to 40-year experience gap, the key qualities that make up a leader today are essentially the same traits that define the leaders of tomorrow – cultivating a growth mindset, a passion for learning, strong interpersonal skills and a desire to affect positive change.

But does this mean that organizations can use the same recruitment and retention strategies to attract and engage these young rising stars? According to our research the answer is no.

The ‘’War for Talent” and the growing talent gap

Over the past five years, as the war for talent has intensified, attracting and retaining great talent has become noticeably more difficult for Canadian organizations. And as 9.8 million Baby Boomers approach retirement[1] and widen the employee talent gap across the country, things will only get more competitive.

To attract and retain the best talent, organizations need to be focused on “big S” succession at the C-suite level, while also thinking about the “small S” succession: strategic sourcing and development of strong entry- and mid-level people capable of driving the business forward.

And while we have identified that the leadership traits of high-potential talent may be quite similar to those of previous generations, we’ve also learned that the motivations and priorities of incoming talent are changing from generation to generation.

Changing career motivations: the importance of social impact

We first recognized through the Millennial generation that career drivers were changing. Potential for career growth and opportunities to have a visible impact ranked above salary and title as the most important motivator – values opposite the Baby Boomer predecessors and factors that continue to outweigh compensation.

Students now applying to entry-level positions are Gen Z, a demographic that is reported to make up roughly 17.6 per cent of Canada’s total population[2] and 25 per cent of the workforce by 2020[3]. Understanding how to attract and retain this talent ultimately comes down to determining their motivating factors of what specifically attracts them to organizations and what motivates them to stay.

This article was originally published in HR Professional.

[1] Globe & Mail: Retirees are likely not as poor as they think

[2] Global News: Generation Z and the (achievable) dream jobs they want

[3] TalentEgg: The 2018 Guide to Canadian Campus Recruitment - Decoding Gen Z (download a free copy)