It turns out that a growing number of younger workers are regretting their career decisions, according to a new report from research and advisory firm Gartner. In 2018, 40 percent of Gen Z respondents reported that they would not repeat their decision to accept the job offer they had accepted—and only 51 percent said they could see themselves having a long career at their organization.

Candidate regret leads to turnover, low engagement and low productivity—more than one-third of candidates who regret their decision intend to leave their position within 12 months.

“To address this increase in candidate regret—and stem the ensuing issues with underperforming talent and/or high turnover—organizations need to better understand what Generation Z candidates want,” said Lauren Smith, vice president of Gartner’s HR practice, in a news release.

As digital natives, Gen Z candidates, those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, understand that innovation and change are a constant. To ensure they are staying relevant as technology and business processes advance, Gen Z workers are keen to leverage various types of development opportunities, from training programs and boot camps to continuing education. Data from Gartner’s Global Labor Market Survey found that in 2018, 23 percent of Gen Z candidates listed development opportunities as a top attraction driver, compared with only 17 percent of their millennial predecessors in 2013.

Along with development opportunities, Gen Z candidates expect flexibility in their work arrangements. In addition to the ability to work from any location, these workers believe work should accommodate play and play should be incorporated in work.

“With this latest crop of workforce entrants, we are seeing an increased focus on work-life integration and the ability to pursue interests simultaneously both in and out of the workplace,” said Smith.

New priorities

Compensation is no longer a guaranteed method for keeping the young workforce in seat, according to Gartner. In 2018, 38 percent of Generation Z candidates said that they would leave a job because of compensation, compared with 41 percent of millennials in 2013.

Gen Z candidates also differ from their millennial predecessors on seeking a defined career path. According to data from Gartner’s Global Labor Market Survey, in 2018, only 25 percent of Gen Z candidates listed future career opportunities as a top attraction driver when considering a job; in 2014, 34 percent of millennials felt the same way.

Managing differently

“Given that today’s graduates are focused on learning and developing skills, employers looking to gain a career commitment from their Gen Z employees must ensure they offer these opportunities,” said Smith. “Our research shows that more than anyone, it’s an employee’s manager who influences the type of development an employee gets on the job.”

In today’s digital age, graduates know they possess unique skill sets that are very much in demand and make up for a lack of experience. Management approaches must adapt to this new reality and shift from an “always-on” approach to a “Connector” manager approach.

Connector managers foster meaningful connections for their direct reports to and among employees, teams and the organization to develop an employee’s specific capabilities. Not only are managers crucial to ensuring their employees’ portfolio of skills stays relevant—a key concern of Gen Z—but they can improve the performance of employees by up to 26 percent and triple the likelihood that their direct reports will be high performers.

“Employers who want to capitalize on the influx of Gen Z candidates into the labor market must consider how best to appeal to these individuals and reduce the desire for them to seek alternative career opportunities,” said Smith.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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