Over the decades, companies large and small have had to be nimble, adapt, and transform in order to stay relevant and competitive in the ever-shifting global market. The incoming generation of workers, Gen Z, are highly tech savvy and ultra-connected. In order to attract and retain this incoming workforce, employers must embrace a new culture of technology and learning. Understanding the motivations and expectations of this group will be essential for companies to position themselves for tomorrow's success.

A Culture of Technology & Communication

Gen Z, or young people ages 16-20, will comprise 36% of the workforce by 20201. Interestingly, nearly two thirds of this generation will work in jobs that don't even exist yet. Companies will need to provide effective collaboration and communication tools to attract members of this generation, as technology and immediate interconnectedness not only a way of life, but an expectation from this cohort. This generation will not fit to the mold of dated technologies, hierarchical bureaucratic systems, or archaic methods of getting work done. IT teams will need to be agile, and offer platforms and technologies that Gen Z will be looking for. Workplace flexibility, the ability to work remotely, honesty and transparency, and open collaboration and communication are all valued by a generation guided by perpetual motion in technological innovation. Part of this set of values is driven by the ability to constantly learn, as information sharing is paramount in today's society.1

Offering your employees tangible and intangible benefits are good motivators and can help set a company apart from other opportunities a candidate might be considering. This new generation will seek out opportunities where they can learn on the job through workforce development, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training in order to stay relevant. Attracting hard working, motivated talent is essential to the success of a company so organizations should start offering these benefits now to set themselves apart to attract and retain top employees.

A Culture of Learning Through New Methods

With the onset of new methods of learning, recruiters are putting less emphasis on hiring candidates with degrees and formal education. Some companies are looking to diversify their talent pool and focus on the candidates with attributes that link to strong job performance. Companies may argue that some positions require a college-level degree, but with so many alternative and flexible education options available today, this argument is all but becoming obsolete.

Candidates spanning all ages will seek opportunities to adapt and stay relevant by augmenting their skills in order to keep up in their field. Marketable micro-credentials and badges and slowly but steadily replacing traditional degrees with stackable, transferable and evidence-based credentials that candidates can share on social networks like LinkedIn. Students can pass individual courses or certifications, "sub-degrees,' and are a quick and inexpensive alternative for students to learn career-relevant skills. Employers take note: these credentials and badges are incredibly useful to see what a candidate is capable of, hard and soft skills alike, as they show what the candidates has learned and accomplished.  

Though some credentials will still require a college degree, many job skills cannot be learned in a classroom, and are acquired on the job. Specialized skills can be achieved through micro-credentialing, online learning, and on-the-job workforce development and apprenticeships---all ultimately to help retain tomorrow's technocentric workforce.

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Resources: Photo credit. (1) Change Now to Attract Tomorrow's Workers (2) No Degree, No Problem (3) Micro-credentials open higher ed to those looking to broaden skills