2020 is turning out to be a challenging year for many of us, whatever our age, gender, profession or geography. Not many people are partying or celebrating and, if they are, lets hope they're doing it with social distancing!
A lot of people are wavering - the mental health pressure as well as the negative economic impact are unprecedented.
Look at any stats from almost any part of the world and what is abundantly clear is that it is the 'younger workers' (which is predominantly GenZ) who are being hit hardest.
For example, in the UK the latest research shows that 44% of 16-25 year olds questioned said their aspirations were now lower than ever, with unemployment rates rising faster for them than any other age group. To compound their miserable work prospects, for the lucky few who have a job, they are more likely to lose their jobs (or be furloughed) and if they can keep it then they're facing lower average wages than the Millennials enjoyed. For graduate roles the picture is not looking much rosier as the number of opportunities has collapsed by 60% and the apprenticeship numbers have stalled.
So that got us thinking at GenZ Insight - what can be done about it? And here is the rub – there are no easy answers. Governments and firms can come up with lots of rhetoric and well-intentioned promises alongside some financial support but it still adds up to a whole lot of nothing. Why? Because, there are no silver bullets or meaningful platitudes that will make any practical difference. As Ben Horowitz put it: there are no silver bullets – so we’re going to have to use lots of lead ones.
As with all generations, all of us in the labour market are facing uncharted waters and uncertain futures. So, the only option open to all of us is to firstly become more resilient and secondly to link up with others whom we can support and who can support us.
What we can offer GenZers - whether they're working, studying or looking for work - is guidance and insight into their range of realistic options available to them. Fundamentally, as Gandhi stated ‘Live the change you want to see in the world’. Now is GenZ’s time to dispel any negative myths and to prove that they are not snowflakes - instead show that they are indeed resilient, self-starters, entrepreneurial, value honesty and integrity and are great networkers. So tell them how it is and give them permission and encouragement to find their own path through this malaise maze.
This is not about promoting tired and outdated career advice.
This is about looking at things afresh. The future of work is changing before our very eyes and the opportunities that exist in a few years' time are unknown and uncharted. So, let's do away with certainties as very few exist. Instead, the focus needs be on providing pathways - encouraging GenZers to become their own pathfinders.
And the pathway options open to GenZers are essentially focused around the concept of 'Having' - having meaningful work.
The first pathway is the 'Haves' - this is basically made up of individuals who are working and have a degree of control over what they do. We sub-categorise this group into: The Entitled, The Entrepreneurs and The Emerging. We will cover the 'Haves' in a follow-up blog as this is where we believe there is a lot of scope for this group to be the GenZ vanguards, and where most corporate focus and investment will be.
The 'Have Nots' are those workers who for whatever reason have few or no realistic work options (whether because of skills, literacy, gender, ethnicity, geography etc). According to the International Labour Organisation, 10% of workers receive 48.9% of total global pay, while the lowest-paid 50% of workers receive just 6.4%. What’s more, the lowest 20% of income earners – around 650 million workers – earn less than 1% of global labour income. Their reality is challenging, their options limited and unfortunately there is little many of us can do to improve their lot beyond being advocates and to make financial donations.
That just leaves one pathway left - The ‘Yet to Haves’. This is a bit like the 'in betweeners' in that they are a bit lost, bamboozled, easily led and, as the name suggests, haven't yet really engaged with work or even the concept of work. With the right type of support, encouragement and guidance they could find their way into the 'Haves'. Alternatively, it wouldn't take much for them to sink into the 'Have Nots'. The dilemma and challenge is how much support should be offered, what type of support and by whom?
At GenZ Insight we believe that there are real opportunities to identify and support this group to find a way out of no-mans land.
Therefore, whether as a GenZer you're a 'Have', a 'Have Not' or a 'Yet to Have' the work reality is essentially one of choosing a pathway that offers no guarantees, but definite possibilities. Becoming your own Pathfinder is something all GenZers can do - if they choose to. The challenge is can GenZers support each other and can the rest of us provide the encouragement, wisdom and opportunities to give them realistic hope? Time will tell - just don't predict when we'll know!
GenZ Insight: How To Make Your Organisation A GenZ Magnet
Authors: Graham Scott and Guy Ellis
Publisher: The Message Medium
Pagination: 132 pages
Price: print £14.99 ($19.99); ebook £9.99 ($9.99)
Publication date: 31 July 2020
If you’d like a signed or personalised copy, please do contact us at email@example.com
Guy is chosen to be on the jury at the Eventex 2021 awards
'Haves', 'Have Nots' and 'Yet to Haves'