SIDNEY — A new generation is entering the workforce. The recent seminar presented by the Sidney-Shelby Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Spherion Staffing Services, addressed the need for businesses to prepare for the future with the emerging tech-savvy Generation Z employees and automation.
The event, entitled, “5 Barriers You’ll Need to Break for Success in 2020 … And Beyond,” was held Wednesday morning, Oct. 16, at Amos Memorial Public Library, with Jim Link, chief human resources officer of Randstad North America, Spherion’s parent company, as the speaker.
Workforce, collaboration, digital/automation, leadership and human resources now are the five barriers Link said businesses need to overcome over the next four to five years. His presentation broke-down each category and explained how to approach each barrier for success.
Gen Z, those born between 1994 and 2010, entered the workforce for the first time in 2016. They are the generation born using the internet, and grew up with the conveniences of modern technology and social media. Link spoke about how to attract, hire and retain these employees.
“Because of our evolving world out there,” Link said, “We believe that collaboration is the next great revolutionary, certainly evolutionary, but potentially revolutionary step in the way work will get done in the future.”
All of the changes that comes with the emerging workforce and their global minded, socially aware expectations, and digital/automation requires a new type of leadership, he said. Link emphasized the leadership needed in the future will not look the same as in the past, whether you have a small or large business, or work in a private or public organization.
The research conducted at Randstad, Link said, shows the way Generation Z individuals think about getting work done, collaborating, building friendships and having fun is often through their devices. Therefore, having great technological capability will be important for this generation when considering how, when, and where to conduct work, he said.
“We as a society obviously have to think about that. If you are in a manufacturing environment, you have to think about how to attract, retain and engage these folks. If you are in an logistics environment, you have to think about the same thing. If you are in big corporate America, you have to think about what you are doing to set up those folks to be successful and what you are doing to keep them in the workplace,” Link said.
They were unprepared, through their research, he said, about employees’ base needs when considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to realize one’s full potential, from a human component and a digital component. The world is changing, he said, traditional goals have changed.
“A remote-only work environment is just not on their wish list. What is important to this generation is flexibility, which topped the list for the first time ever as the most important employee benefit — above healthcare, perks, benefits, they want flexibility,” he continued.
Automation is coming. Link asserted by 2020, every single person will have at least four interconnected devices.
“Forty-five percent of the work done today in our work lives could be automated using existing technology,” he said. “Once language processing occurs or gets better with AI, another 13 percent can be automated.
And although some fear automation, or artificial intelligence (AI), Generation Z, who has lived with digital devices their entire lives, do not. Link encouraged attendees not to be scared of the change because it will improve work lives. He said anytime this type of massive change occurs, we continue to adapt and evolve. Link pointed out this same change and shift in the past from 1860 to 1920 in agriculture. People are still working today, he reassured.
To be a successful leader of the next generation, Link said Randstad’s research showed you (still) need to inspire others, leverage technology, encourage collaboration, drive innovation and manage risk. These tools are necessary because of Gen Z’s needs, AI and digitization, robotics and mechanization, he noted.
Academic research shows that because of all of the digital behavior, particularly with young people, Link said, it is leading to additional isolation, separation, loneliness, and segregation. Mindful leadership is important to help with decompression to get these individuals to look up (from devices) and engage face to face.
All of the new technology and information available makes human resources work better today than it has ever been, Link said. Recruiting online is crucial.
“If you are not online in some way recruiting digitally, you are not in existence in these young people’s minds. So this will be a huge barrier,” Link said, particularly on Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter.
He noted LinkedIn adds two new members every second, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and it would take 10 years to view all of the photos shared on SnapChat in a single hour time frame.
The human resources of tomorrow is a continuum, Link said, which starts with diversity efforts, that should lead to inclusion efforts, that should lead to equality. And when equality is achieved, he said equity will be realized for all people and all of human kind. He noted that we are not there yet, but it is the goal.