Generation Z (the generation born between the mid to late 1990s and the early 2010s) is the largest generation of all time. Thus, as Gen Z leaves higher education and enters the workforce, they have the power and numbers to truly shape workplaces. In logistics in particular, 25-33% of the workforce is at or nearing retirement age, meaning that a large swath of the industry will need to be recruited in the coming years, just to maintain replacement level.
This shift is even more important when we see the emergence of corporate C-suite leaders (company’s top management positions) focusing on supply chain management as integral to their companies' successes. The pronounced focus on supply chains may lead to a need for more logistics talent than ever before. So, how can logistics companies encourage the next generation to start a career in logistics? And what should these companies expect their youngest employees to demand in return?
Gen Z is pessimistic about their career opportunities
While salary remains the most important factor when deciding on a job, Gen Z values salary less than every generation before. Instead, the generation is split when it comes to prioritising between a job that might be more interesting, with a job that would pay more. That said, Gen Zer's crave stability, even though they don't believe that it is attainable for them.
According to a 2022 study by McKinsey more working members of Gen Z than any other generation are working multiple jobs (25% as compared to the 16% of all other workers), and slightly more than half (compared with 36% of all workers) are doing independent work. However, a majority of those surveyed responded that they would prefer to work as a permanent employee of a company (56%). Moreover, 45% of Gen Zer's are concerned about the stability of their employment and are more likely to report that the pay they receive does not allow for a good quality of life.
Of course, Gen Z is young, and thus relatively new to the job market, which could be one explanation for their perceived instability. However, in the United States, national statistics on first-time home ownership (up to the age of 56 in 2021 from 36 in 1981) lends empirical evidence to support Gen Z's pessimism about their earning and saving potential.
Recruiting the next generation of logistics leaders
Given the concern that Gen Z feels about their career opportunities, the logistics industry can provide a perfect antidote to their worries. According to Glassdoor, Gen Z favours working at larger, more established companies, likely as they are more risk averse than previous generations. Additionally, they want to work for more socially conscious organisations that not only acknowledge but also address macro-issues like climate change and systemic inequality.
Thus, in order to attract the next generation to careers in the logistics industry, logistics leaders should prioritise the following:
- A focus on a socially sustainable workplace culture
- Career development and internal upskilling
- Digitalised business processes
By creating a focus and external communication around these three points, Gen Z is more likely to see themselves thriving in a career in logistics, all for the benefit of the future of the industry.
1. A focus on a socially sustainable workplace culture
A survey by Glassdoor found that 75% of workers aged 18-34 (so both Gen Z and Millennials) expect their employers to be opinionated about social issues. In fact, they have higher demands than any other generation on taking a stance and contributing both financially, and in volunteer hours, to their communities. While 81% of younger workers expect their employer to support groups in their respective communities (compared to 75% of total workers), 72% of young people expect their employers to provide work time and resources to advocate for positive social change (as compared to 51% of other age groups).
Additionally, Gen Z is redefining workplace benefits, as they are more interested in personal wellbeing than financial gain. In line with their desire for more work-life balance (50% of Gen Z demands this from their employers, as compared to 36% of the general population), Gen Z is looking for benefits that extend beyond the conventional; such as unlimited vacation days, work-from-anywhere programs, and free office lunches. Additionally, growing up with the news of recessions, wars, and a global pandemic; 55% of American Gen Zer's report having received a diagnosis and/or treatment for a mental illness. In turn, they are also the most likely generation to report being unable to afford mental-health services.
Thus, a socially sustainable workplace can look many ways. For example, some companies may choose to sponsor employee's mental health services, while others might provide paid volunteer days or remote work programs. Indeed, some companies may have the ability and choose to provide all these opportunities, and many more, to their employees; making them a more attractive workplace than their competitors.
2. Career development and internal upskilling
One of the largest complaints of entry level workers is that most roles advertised as entry level, simply are not. An analysis of 3.8 million job postings on LinkedIn from December 2017 to August 2021 found that employers asked for a minimum of three years relevant work experience on 35% of their postings. This finding begs the question, how do new workers get those three years of experience when this is the minimum barrier of entry to the workforce?
Logistics leaders have the ability to change this narrative, and instead welcome fresh graduates into the industry, helping them grow from the ground up. As mentioned earlier, Gen Zers crave stability in their career, and a company that can provide it for them is likely to have a loyal and diligent employee for many years to come. A 2022 study by Amazon finds that nearly three-quarters of Millennials and Gen Z workers plan to quit their jobs this year (2023) due to a lack of skill-building opportunities in their workplace, and 70% feel unprepared for the future of work.
As an employer, this is truly a simple problem to solve, and has myriad benefits for the company and their employees. If they have not already, logistics companies may consider implementing an academy program to not only train truly entry level talent, but also to upskill current employees, allowing them to continue their career journey within the company.
3. Digitalised processes and goals
Lastly, the logistics industry needs to focus on digitalisation in order to capitalise on new talent entering the workforce. Typically high on Glassdoor's Best Jobs list are data scientist roles, as Gen Z, a generation of fully digital natives, want to bring their expertise to work to develop solutions and inform strategic decision making. Additionally, there is great opportunity for industry growth in data and digitalisation, with more need for experts in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics for supply chain management and logistics solutions.
With new technical solutions like driverless last mile delivery vehicles, automated warehousing, and the internet of packaging; Gen Z expects that their employers’ business processes should take on the same digital literacy that their work requires. Very simply, logistics companies should demonstrate a high level of digitalisation not only in the products they offer to their customers, but also the experiences that their employees encounter; from recruitment and onboarding, to learning programs and internal communications systems. Indeed, a new study reveals that more than half (54%) of Gen Zer's in the workforce want better digitalisation across HR processes and workplace solutions.
Getting Gen Z in the fight for talent
As scores of skilled logistics leaders leave the industry for retirement, companies should have an increased focus on not only upskilling their current employees, but also bringing new talent into the workplace. In order to attract these digital natives and keep them happy in the logistics industry a focus on social sustainability, career development and advancement, and digitalisation can set some companies apart from the rest, helping them to achieve their recruiting goals. Ultimately, logistics companies that can win the Gen Z in the fight for new talent may have a leg up in the future of the industry.
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