Two major future of work trends impacting the workplace are the introduction of a new generation, and the acceleration of automation and artificial intelligence (AI). While these trends are already impacting today’s workforce, they will continue to shape the future of work.
Let’s start with the newest generation of workers, Generation Z, born since 1995 (though the exact birth year starting Gen Z is under debate). This generation is just starting to enter the workforce, with the oldest turning 22-years old this year. There isn’t multitudes of information about this generation in the workplace yet as they are just getting started, but we do know they will bring change.
Let’s look at Gen Z workplace priorities and expectations. based on a poll of 5,000 Gen Z’ers by HR Technologist
Gen Z: Diversity, Stability, Social Consciousness and Entrepreneurial Leanings
Nearly half of Gen Z is non-Caucasian and 81% of Gen Z’ers said they have friends of a different race. So paying attention to this generation’s multicultural demographic shows leaders that to Gen Z, diversity isn’t a “cause”—it’s a direct reflection of who they are.
Though the U.S. is still lagging behind on eliminating bias in the workplace, Gen Z is poised to instigate change. Mentioning the value of diversity on your company website “about us” page isn’t enough for this generation. They want to see diversity reflected directly in the leadership team.
Gen Z is also more interested in job stability than their Millennial peers. That can be linked to the fact that they grew up during the 2008 economic crisis. In fact, at least 64% of the Gen Z population has their own savings account, quite a bit more than the 51% of older savers out there.
Like Millennials, Generation Z value socially conscious and purpose-driven workplaces. With two generations paying attention to these factors, organizations are going to have to evaluate their social consciousness to make sure it’s not empty talk.
Unlike Millennials, when asked what would make them stay at a job for more than three years, Gen Z’s top response was an empowering work culture (29%). This far surpassed receiving a high salary (15%).
HR technologist also reports, “Most Gen Z’ers want to engage one-on-one with their leaders. So much so, that corporate mentorship programs fell only slightly behind health care on their list of most important benefits.”
Last but not least, according to a study done by Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm, and Internships.com, the world’s largest internship marketplace, 61 percent of (Gen Z) high school students say they want to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee. Workplaces will need to adopt qualities desired by those drawn to the entrepreneurial lifestyle to attract this generation.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI): Are We Losing or Gaining Jobs?
In addition to a new generation entering the workforce, we also have automation and artificial intelligence shaking up the workplace scene.
Automation and AI anxieties are deep rooted in our culture. Right now we hear mostly from workers who fear they will be replaced by machines. How many jobs will be lost? What is my worth if a robot can do my job for free? Yet Gartner Inc. predicts that AI will actually create more jobs than it destroys.
Let’s look at some facts. According to Forrester, 9% of U.S. jobs will be replaced by automation this year, especially administrative, call-center and sales jobs. However, the MIT Technology Review predicts those losses will be at least partially offset by a 2% increase in automation related jobs.
Job loss and job gain aside; AI and automation tools will take some getting used to. However, if workers remain flexible, they may find that AI tools can make jobs easier, removing the slog of repetitive and menial tasks, and creating time to think on a more innovative level.
A good way to think of it is in terms of personal computers. While the implementation of personal computers destroyed roughly 3.5 million jobs, it also created roughly 19 million jobs.
If you find yourself or your employees nervous about becoming obsolete due to automation or AI, remember this: ZeroCater reports “McKinsey Global Institute, a private-sector think tank, predicts there will be enough work for humans to ensure full employment in 2030.”
Gen Z, Automation and AI: The Infographic
For a more visual view of the changes to come, check out this infographic from Zero Cater.
Have you worked with a member of Generation Z? If yes, what did you notice about their character or work habits? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below, send me an email, or find me on Twitter.