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How can we win Generation Z?

How does Generation Z think, how do they approach work, how and how easily do they fit in? To what extent is it worth employing trainees? Why does the "Minecraft generation" want everything immediately? These are questions that many employers are asking today. Several speakers at the recruiTech conference explored these issues.

Ecsedi Zsuzsanna, Fürge Diák-

The number of people entering and exiting the labour market is in persistent deficit, with a negative balance of tens of thousands, or rather hundreds of thousands, Zsuzsanna Ecsedi pointed out. There are 3.1 million people aged 55 and over, almost all of whom will retire in 10 years at the latest. According to the marketing manager of the Fürge Diák School Cooperative young people are one of the main labour market reserves. 30% of 15-24 year olds and 47% of those in higher education, or almost 135,000 people, are not in work. Student and apprentice employment is a very important source of jobs for companies, with the latter being in the top 3 for filling vacancies.

Placing 15,000 students a year, including 1,500 interns, the Fürge Student School Co-operative has been looking at how to design and run an internship programme well. To do this, they conducted an online survey, asking 178 HR managers about their internship programmes. The results show that 82% of companies see interns as a replacement. Some companies fill 60-70% of their vacancies with trainees.They believe that trainees are able to support labour market needs and are cost-effective, while companies also see trainees as a flexible resource that can be easily mobilised," said Zsuzsanna Ecsedi.

Research has revealed that the use of trainees strengthens company culture, bringing fresh perspectives, professional knowledge and creativity to the company. Their employment is also an important employer branding tool, as young people can influence the company's reputation through rapid communication. Therefore, it is important to communicate honestly with them. An overly positive appearance, "thick make-up", can sometimes have a negative connotation. According to the marketing manager, generational differences (which can be resolved by organising joint programmes), inconsistency or a lack of balance between tasks and responsibilities are also complicating factors in the life of companies.

Treat them not as a resource, but as an afterthought

Survey results have therefore been used to compile a list of challenges facing apprenticeship programmes. A common problem is that programmes have no responsible person, framework, objectives or performance indicators, and 70% have no programme manager. In many cases, the roles and responsibilities of trainees are not well defined, resulting in some trainees whose workload is not fully fleshed out and others who are overloaded - there is a lack of balance between the two.The design of a traineeship programme is found to be a multi-stage process. The first stage starts with hiring the intern, but there is much more to running the intern than that. A successful internship programme is one that fits into the company strategy.

It is essential for such programmes to have a framework and a good manager who can become a key player in the programme by setting targets, establishing performance indicators, even assigning day-to-day operational tasks or supporting the onboarding process. "The success of programmes depends not only on HR colleagues, but also on professional leaders. It is a common problem that they are often expected to be just as high as experienced staff," said Zsuzsanna Ecsedi. However, the path to equal performance is often not established: trainees are not seen as a resource and do not have potential. This is often explained by a lack of energy for their beatanity, or by a lack of commitment to young people, because "they won't stay long anyway, they will soon leave".

The selection process is often slowed down by professional managers - they are busy, they cannot make an appointment, they do not want to choose from the candidates sent or they do not want to cooperate with HR in this. "HR also has an educational role in relation to internships, so that all levels of the organisation think the same about the importance of internships: see them not as a resource, but as a supply." he added. The trainee is also a key player who will contribute to the success of the programme: through his or her portability, responsibility and intrinsic motivation.

It is essential to know Generation Z because this will help overcome generational challenges. Last year, their research showed that Generation Z has an increased need for regular feedback, the opportunity for a pre-designed career path and to be treated as equals. Individual attention is important to them. Companies that run successful programmes treat trainees as equals and give them full responsibilities. Even though their decision-making power is limited, they work in an intense situation that motivates and develops them. Trainees are the employees of the future, and a well-designed trainee programme makes it easier to connect with future employees.

The "Minecraft generation"

Andrea Princz, strategic consultant and trainer at STEIGEN Consultancy Kft., also shed light on the mindset of Generation Z employees. She explained that all generations are socialised through games. While Generation X's classic game was numbers war, Generation Z's is Minecraft. The behaviour of earlier generations is heavily influenced by the patterns followed in Numbers War, while today's working twenty-somethings have learned their lessons in Minecraft," he said. The numbers war was a game played in a geographical location between teams, which is perhaps why today's middle-aged workers, for example, like team-building events, togetherness and a shared agenda, but for Generation Z it doesn't mean the same thing. As children, they often sat in front of a computer and played alone or in a virtual community. So different solutions are needed to engage them, but also different solutions, whether it's for admissions or for the assessment centre, to get them within their age zone," said Andrea Princz. "As Generation X, it was shocking to go to the admissions office at 9am and sit through all the test tasks eating the same egg sandwich all day, imagine Generation Z in this situation", she said, explaining the recruitment dilemma.

Of course, we need to know what skills they have, what values they have, but these need to be assessed according to their virtual needs, according to their standards. Whereas in a numbers war we wait for each other, that is, in a fight for the flag, whoever has their number read and sits down waits to see when the others will make the final score. "So far we do nothing but wait. We can't expect that from Generation Z. They go out, the game is over and they start again immediately. Everything restarts immediately, that's what they're used to. In the first critical 12 years of their lives they experience that things are instant. They don't understand how, there's no causal thinking about why, but they can start everything again immediately," said Andrea Princz, outlining the difference. For a person socialised in the 20th century, it was perfectly natural to wait years for a telephone or a Trabant, and she learned that waiting is part of life. In today's generation, if a child wants a phone, he doesn't have to wait a minute, he can buy a new one on the first corner. And at work, he says okay, I'll do my job, but then what's next?

Management doesn't like the idea that "these young people walk in the door and then 5 minutes later they want to be the CEO." But you have to look at the Minecraft game. It starts with trivial things: you have to plant the first tree - "but you're clever, you can go to the next level and the next and the next again".They're used to being able to go forward in small increments. It's not good or bad that they are constantly being asked to do the next thing, it's what they have been taught. "We're taught to sit for two hours before the numbers war is over and wait for it to end, or I sit for two years in a multinational company before I get promoted first, and they're taught as children, the world tells them, make a tiny investment and you can go straight on, make a tiny investment and you can go straight on. To be honest, it's not very fair to berate them for that, because their brains learn what the world around them is like, what games they play."In 20th century games, there is only one chance: either the team wins the flag in the numbers war, or they don't. Playing even one game there is hard enough, as it can take hours. In Minecraft - or any computer game - there's an instant restart - they always get another chance. "Sometimes the leader will give you a task, but it doesn't work out, and then you get a negative review that it's not good, not well thought out, not elaborate - of course not. He does the first little thing he can and waits for feedback, just like in games, to get to the next level and the next. Generation Z is not used to the way Generation X is used to having one chance and putting in all the effort to make it the best, but to what startup culture is all about: try, learn from it, try again, try again, learn from it and do it again," he outlines.

But this is very alien to leaders socialised in the 20th century with very high expectations. The worst thing for Generation Z is to have unrealistic expectations of them. Expecting them to have skills in the workplace that 21st century socialization has not given them is not fair," the strategy consultant added. So you have to sit down with them and teach them the skills that the world has not taught them but our corporate culture expects (greetings, email writing skills, etc.). The option to quit is not there in numbers war, but in Minecraft you can switch platforms at any time. "If a child has a bad day in one game, they don't play it through with clenched teeth, they quit and move to another game, another platform," says Andrea Princz, describing the differences. If she doesn't feel comfortable in a job, she's learned that the world offers her endless opportunities, so she takes it and leaves. She tries the other one. "That's why it's important to make sure that they feel comfortable at work according to their criteria, that they get a lot of feedback as adults. Have fun, because obviously they're going to change if that doesn't happen, because that's what the world has taught them, that it's easy to change, there are lots of opportunities," he adds. The expert says they should be involved in everything that affects them: they can tell you if the ad is good, they can tell you what the interview experience was like for them, what onboarding was like for them - all of these can be very useful experiences.

Part one of our series of articles from the rescruiTECH conference here.

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