They are cooperative, capable of working well with others, highly adaptable and con dent of dealing with change. They have a natural affinity with digital technologies, says a recent AIF study
By HABHAJAN SINGH
Some bosses may be apprehensive as they come closer to the prospect of them hiring the Generation Z (Gen Z) — those digital natives who have only known life in a digitally enabled environment.
Can we blame them? The general perception is that employers would have a tough time roping those kids who will join the workforce in a few years time.
But surprise, surprise. A newly released study of that very generation has thrown up some interesting findings.
“They are open-minded, curious, caring and considerate, with a strong sense of independence to avoid imposing on others. They embrace challenges and are willing to sacrifice immediate pleasures for a greater future reward,” noted one of the key findings of the study conducted by the Kuala Lumpur-based Asian Institute of Finance (AIF).
Another key finding suggested that they are cooperative, capable of working well with others, highly adaptable and confident of dealing with change. It goes without saying, they have a natural affinity with digital technologies.
Now, this must be music to the ears of the human resource (HR) managers looking at hiring newbies for their companies. It surely provides some comfort that there is hope in the next generation of hiring.
Then comes the caveat. The study, entitled “Tomorrow’s Professionals: Gen Z in Malaysia”, highlighted one key concern when dealing with the Gen Z.
It noted that their desire to get along with others may inhibit them in matters of ethics and principles at the workplace if these are not clearly defined and upheld widely.
For the same reason, the report noted that they are less confident of leading and managing conflicts, as well as unsure of their communication, multitasking and time management skills.
While the overall picture was one of a relatively “kind and gentle group”, the report suggested that the findings raised some important questions about the Gen Z.
“Does this general disposition render them more vulnerable on matters relating to ethics and principles?
“Does the accommodating, adaptable and open-minded nature of the group create more grey areas?” it asked.
The survey findings indicated that they were polarised on such topics.
“While a sizeable proportion does not waver on principles and matters of ethics, there is an equally significant proportion that does.
“This suggests the desire of the Gen Z to be independent might be at conflict with their eagerness to please and get along with others at times,” the report concluded.
Willing To Work
Another potentially surprising finding revolves around the question of whether they are willing to burn the midight oil.
In spite of their overall relaxed demeanour, the report found that a large majority of them believed in foregoing current pleasures for greater rewards in the future.
“The need for instant gratification typically associated with the preceding Gen Y is not a prevalent characteristic of this group,” it said, high- lighting a point that may go against the thinking of many of the older generation.
The study also found that the Gen Z values higher education, with more than half aiming to get a postgraduate degree and nearly 30% planning to obtain doctoral qualifications.
And a good portion, 63% to be exact, want to start their own business after gaining sufficient work experience and capital from a job.
They are enthusiastic about overseas employment, with Singapore, Australia and the UK as the top destinations, the report added.
Some of the other key findings of the study were:
• For those studying or planning to study business/economics, a career in the financial services industry is the most preferred choice, followed closely by other professional services. Those disinterested in a finance career are deterred by perceptions of an unappealing working environment and limited opportunities to cater for their diverse interests.
• They expect good pay and professional development opportunities. They value a work-life balance that allows time for both their personal life and sufficient challenging work that enhances their learning. They look for organisations and managers to help realise these.
• Most do not feel the need for a fixed physical office, nor favour strict office hours. At the same time, they are keen on close interaction with their superiors and peers using remote communication devices.
AIF CEO Dr Raymond Madden said the study was the first of its kind in Malaysia on the Gen Z, and how they will fit into a talent landscape that is rapidly evolving due to rapid developments in technology.
“The report should provide senior management and HR managers with vital insights into the Gen Z, and enable them to be better equipped to engage with and integrate this generation into their organisations,” he said.
AIF is a think tank jointly established by Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia to enhance human capital development and talent management across the financial services industry in Asia.