Is your organization ready for role-hopping Gen Z?

Traditionally, employees stay on one path. They have an occupation or profession that they are trained for or have chosen. That translates into a job role at their place of employment and although they may advance in that job role, the occupation itself, does not change.

An employee may start in an entry-level position, move up to intermediate, then senior or team lead and finally become a mid-level manager overseeing others of the same occupation.

If they are ambitious, talented or lucky, they may move above that and into upper management, utilizing both the skills of their profession and their people or business management skills. But the job role path that led them there was a straight line.

There has been much talk about Millennials in the workforce and how they like to hop from employer to employer rather than staying with one company or organization for any length of time. But when they make those jumps, they typically stay in the same occupation or job role — the one that matches their skills and experience.

But there has been a trend toward not only employer hopping but career hopping. In the past, an occupation or profession was defined as a person’s ‘life’s work.’ Today, people have multiple careers in a lifetime so an occupation is more likely to be a ‘decade’s work.’

The trend for job hopping is expected to continue or increase for Millennials. But there is a new generation on the horizon: Generation Z.  Also called Centennials or the iGeneration (iGen), and in the USA sometimes the Homeland Generation, this is the generation that follows the Millennials.  Predictions are that the next wave of employees, Generation Z, will be more interested in role hopping than employer hopping. 

In an article titled, “Is the Talent Economy in for a Role-Less Future?,” Frank Kalman writes, “Imagine starting a job at a firm as an accountant and then, after a few years, switching within the company to a new role as a marketing manager. Maybe a few more years pass and you switch again, this time from marketing to finance or sales. Maybe eventually you get to work in IT.”

Kalman, Managing Editor of Talent Economy, continues, “Or, let’s go one step further. Think of a company where there are no job titles or defined roles — an idea that isn’t entirely foreign to some companies nowadays — where employees actively roam between tasks and responsibilities across departments, often within the same day.”

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz of the Chicago Tribune writes, “Though it’s too soon to say how Gen Z might shape the workplace… Gen Zers, an emerging trove of research suggests, are entrepreneurial yet pragmatic, hardworking yet easily distracted… More than 60 percent said they are willing to stay at a company for 10 years…”

In “Why employers are reaching out to the next generation of workers: Gen Z,” Elejalde-Ruiz continues with, “…more than half of Gen Zers want to write their own job description, reflecting a desire for a hypercustomized career experience that could be driven by the personal branding…”

The article states that those preferences could make small to medium-sized businesses more attractive than big companies because “employees can more easily where multiple hats.” Quoting a 2016 survey, the reporter states that Gen Zers “are three times more likely to want to work at a small or medium company than a large one, presenting big companies with a recruiting challenge.”

Role-hopping vs job-hopping was the number seven item in “Forget millennials — here are 8 things you’ll want to remember about Gen Z,” published by The Business Insider. “Generation Z won’t want to miss out on any valuable experience and will want to flex their on-demand learning muscle by trying out various roles or projects (marketing, accounting, human resources, etc.) inside of the organization.”

The article also notes that 75 percent of Generation Z polled said there are other ways of getting a good education than going to college.

And Kalman of Talent Economy also cites education as a factor. “With the proliferation of cost-effective online education, more and more people could reskill for different jobs in entirely different fields or industries.”

What does this mean for employers?

Succession planning could be an even greater challenge than it is today, and organizations may need to re-think the traditional job-role path.

Tracking informal learning and the management of competencies will likely become more and more critical as employees move from one job role to another and acquire skills in a numbers of ways. As a result, a fully functional learning management system will be essential.

There might be an increased focus on soft skills and the ability to learn and adapt rather than on formal credentials.

Large organizations and those with rigid structures that don’t promote job hopping may find it difficult to recruit top talent.

To read the articles quoted here visit:

Talent Economy

Chicago Tribune

Business Insider