How continuous learning and collaboration are the key to motivating the Gen Z work force
As the world continues to settle into a new normal two-and-half years after the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, leaders and organizations around the globe are taking stock of the important changes and learnings that have taken place. One vital lesson has been the need to find the fundamental pillars that can support the constant adaptation to the changing business and technological environment. Furthermore, as Gen-Z and Millennials continue to shift the center of gravity in the world’s workforce, they bring with them values and expectations that set them apart from the older cohorts. Leaders need to uncover and cultivate the fundamental power skills that allow them to successfully motivate and drive this changing workforce in a constantly evolving world.
Continuous learning is vital for retaining young talent
According to some estimates, the Millennial and Gen-Z cohorts together make up around 70% of the global workforce, displacing the older Gen-X and Boomer cohorts. With this change in the workforce comes also a shift in attitudes and priorities which organizations and leaders must recognize, as both Millennials and Gen-Z have different ideals and expectations about work and careers. One of these shifts is the increased importance that is placed on learning, especially continuous learning throughout one’s career. According to a recent survey of workers in the US, a majority of both Millennials and Gen-Z place a high value on continuous learning. In the survey, 58% of Millennials and 52% of Gen-Z say that their future career success depends on continuous learning and updating of their skills and knowledge. This is compared to only 35% of Gen X and 34% of Boomers who agree with the statement. This is a clear indication to organizations and leaders that continuous learning isn’t just a priority to stay ahead with their competitors, but is a key value and skill to cultivate in order to retain the best talent who also value learning and skill development. Organizations that do not prioritize learning risk leaving behind their young talents and allowing them to migrate to other organizations that do prioritize these values and skills.
Beyond serving as a way to anchor and motivate the latest generation of employees, a strong learning culture by itself serves as a foundation for development and growth for organizations as a whole. In a widely cited study, it was found that top performing organizations are five times more likely than lower performing organizations to have a culture that is focused on learning. In the highly competitive and knowledge focused modern economy, where fostering innovation is an absolute necessity to staying ahead of the competition, having an organization that strongly focuses on learning both internally and externally provides a huge net benefit. Leaders who understand this dynamic make it their priority to foster learning at all levels within their organization.
Shifting towards hybrid work models demands better collaboration
Although organizations have always talked about the importance of fostering collaboration among their teams, there is good evidence that it will become even more important as technologies and our working norms continue to evolve. During the past years, as the pandemic unfolded and countless organizations moved into remote working arrangements, leaders discovered the vital necessity of actively fostering collaboration among their distanced and dispersed team members. Now, as companies are beginning to find a new balance with distance and hybrid working, the need for practicing the power skill of collaboration continues to be high.
Part of this is due again to the generational shift that is happening in the workforce. Millennials and Gen-Z employees, more so than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts, are an important driving force behind worker sentiments that favor hybrid and distance working arrangements rather than strictly in-office working situations. According to a recent study, 53% of Millennials workers surveyed would be most likely to look for another job if their employers forced them to be back in the office full time, instead of offering hybrid options. Fully 40% of Gen Z surveyed also agreed with the sentiment. As these younger cohorts take over from Gen X and Boomers in the workforce, leaders can expect hybrid and remote work options to be even more sought after than today.
In this environment where employees increasingly expect a hybrid working environment, it becomes even more key for leaders to actively foster the vital power skill of collaboration. According to a survey conducted in 2021, 71% of leaders have become more concerned about successfully fostering collaboration during the pandemic than before. This is hardly surprising, as many organizations have experienced how employees who are not physically present together can easily fall into communication silos that block innovation and successful collaboration. Unless leaders actively take steps to grow and practice collaboration among the team, the routines of hybrid work can wear down even the most communicative and well-meshed teams. These steps can be small and general, such as establishing routines and expectations around communication like a regular check-in, or they can be targeted, such as utilizing software like collaborative virtual whiteboards to communicate.
Power skills as the basis for facing future challenges
As Stellar Capacity works with leaders and organizations around the world and in different sectors and industries, we see the common challenges that they face due to rapidly evolving technological conditions and the change of attitudes that come as younger generations move into the workforce. This is why power skills are a master key that can unlock an organization’s ability to not just cope with the transformations that they face, but grow and thrive in an environment of uncertainty and change. Continuous learning and collaboration are just two of these vital power skills that enable leaders to motivate and drive their evolving teams.
The importance of understanding how to grow the Power Skills is essential to our programs, and for more information and concrete insight on how you as a leader can develop your and your team's Power Skills, please visit here to read more about the Stellar Executive Program.