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The role of Gen Z in startups

by jcp

Despite the recent pandemic, according to HMRC, in March 2021 the UK recorded the largest number of new businesses created since records began. The total register size at the end of March 2021 was 4,716,126, an increase of 8.4% when compared with the end of March 2020. It would seem that the change in traditional work structures and new found flexibility allowed many businesses to form, which perhaps might not have been possible under different circumstances. As our economy continues to rebuild following the long lasting effects of COVID 19, we’ve taken a look at just how the workplace will continue to evolve and the role of Gen Z in startup businesses in particular.

Cat Agostinho and Jay Richards, Co Founders of Imagen Insights

They are the first digitally native generation. They are typically progressive, entrepreneurial, change-making and often referred to as activists but Generation Z, those born roughly between 1996 and 2012, have made headlines too for being ‘too demanding’ and ‘lazy’ in the workplace. With the rise of start up businesses at an all time high, many are looking to employ and/or target this covetable age cohort with their offering.

So what does it take to market your business to Gen Z, either to drive their desirability to work for you or to buy from you?

Imagen Insights surveyed a pool of their UK based Gen Z consultants around what the future of work looks like for them over the next year for their Brutally Honest Gen Z report for 2022. The good news is that the majority of this age group, over four fifths, 83%, reported that they are confident that they will find a job or continue to study in 2022. Working in one sector however, is out the window with 64% stating that they want to work in multiple careers over the next 10 years. What does this mean for business? This is where we see a change in generational differences. Gen Z reported that they value happiness and work life balance as top priorities when it comes to the workplace – no doubt an impact of the pandemic. With this in mind perhaps Gen Z will be more likely to strive for working in start-up environments and businesses they deem more forward-thinking when it comes to their future careers.

Many UK based start-ups offer wellbeing initiatives, earlier finishes, health packages and a promised better work/life harmony and more recently some businesses have been trialling the government backed 4-day working week pilot. We often see clickbait headlines around how this generation is perceived in the workplace – naturally in many instances they are also the first age demographic to work remotely from the offset of working life. We spoke to Cat Agostinho and Jay Richards, Co Founders of Imagen Insights about what they predict for the future of startups in relation to Gen Z:

“We’ve worked with clients who have asked us not only how to target this covetable cohort with their products, but how to make their workplaces more attractive and appealing to the next generation of talent. We know businesses want to employ these young people and they want to know how to go about it. They are beginning to realise just how important it is to have Gen Z in and around startups to grow with the business.

“From our experience of employing Gen Z internally and working externally with our community of 22,000 + Gen Z consultants, we have found that they are in fact very driven individuals, extremely entrepreneurial and really savvy when it comes to business.

 “Most start-ups could learn a lot from employing these young people and in turn start-up life gives them many an opportunity to try utilising different skills and learning all of the tricks of the trade. We think we will see a continued spike in the numbers of businesses cropping up across the UK and an ongoing rise in preferences of healthy work-life harmony from those working for them.”

What else do Gen Z want from the workplace?

A recent whitepaper from PLAY, Corporate Climate Crisis, found more than half (54%) of employees

said they would be more likely to work for a company that provides tools or resources to become more

sustainable, with this being as high as 62% of 25 to 34-year-old employees. Interestingly, amongst Gen Z, 40% of 18 to 24-year-olds reported saying they don’t know what their company is doing to be sustainable and almost a quarter (24%) of Gen Z employees (18 to 24-year-olds) would not work at a business that profits from unsustainable practices.

No matter whether your business is looking to recruit Gen Z, or sell to Gen Z, it is clear that they, like no generation before them, have a different way of viewing the workplace and their career trajectory. To attract new young talent new approaches must be taken to ensure your business reflects the modern era of working.

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