Generation Z is poised to comprise nearly a quarter of the global workforce – and they’ll shortly become the first line of defense for most organizations. MetricStream COO Gaurav Kapoor discusses some unique attributes, expectations and risks associated with Gen Z.
As Generation Z starts to enter the workforce, it will shortly make up almost a quarter of the global working population, creating a new front line in the workplace and immediately becoming responsible for managing risks stemming from business transactions, interactions with customers and more.
Gen Zers, while similar to millennials, come with generationally unique values, attitudes and, of course, risks.
To effectively harness the potential of this soon-to-be prominent demographic, governance, risk and compliance (GRC) leaders would do well to be aware of the quirks that make Gen Zers tick to better build well-governed and risk-aware enterprises.
Generation Z is the first demographic comprised of digitally native individuals – to this demographic, smartphones aren’t just devices, but a way of life.
Having been raised in a hyperconnected world, Gen Zers expect information to be delivered instantly and efficiently; and, when it comes to digital experiences, this demographic demands personalized content, as anything else is indicative of laziness.
To optimally engage Gen Zers in the workplace, the organization needs to rethink existing tools and processes. Start by asking, “Is something like a spreadsheet the best way to engage a mobile-first generation, or might there be better, more personalized and efficient approaches available? Can employees use mobile apps to assess risks or attest to policies? Are these tools intuitive and easy to use, and are they visually appealing? Can they be personalized by users to suit their unique preferences?”
These are key questions for GRC teams to consider as they attempt to shore up a first line of defense that’ll be unlike any before.
Values, Ethics and Transparency
Studies have shown that while millennials tend to prioritize secure jobs that provide a good work-life balance, Generation Z is primarily concerned with working for organizations whose ideals resonate with their own; they want to work for organizations they can be proud of.
Therefore, it’s important for the organization to prioritize fostering a corporate culture that resonates with their Generation Z employees – a culture based on integrity and trust.
To do that, GRC teams need to explore their organization’s core values to determine whether they exist only for tokenism; they need to determine whether their organization “walks the walk.” A critical component of this is ensuring that the leadership team adheres to the core values espoused by the organization in earnest.
Additionally, organizational leadership needs to ensure that good behavior is rewarded and that poor behavior results in appropriate penalization. It’s no longer enough for organizations to pay lip service to cultural values. The future, Generation Z, is watching, and if they see their organization being driven more by ROI than by a sense of integrity, they may take their talents and resources elsewhere.
Changing the Nature of Work
While millennials are the initial champions of flexible, independent work, Generation Z is likely to take things to the next level; this is a generation that wants freedom and autonomy in their work, as well as a respectable work-life balance that enables wellness.
As businesses continue to evolve to better accommodate their Generation Z employees, organizations will need to find ways of balancing risks and opportunities stemming from an increasingly digital and independent workforce.
For instance, remote workers pose inherent organizational risks. So, the IT Security team needs to prioritize developing training programs and controls that can be adapted to better protect data.
The faster companies adapt their risk management and compliance strategies to the next generation of the front line and to their needs in terms of work-life balance, the more effectively they will be able to optimize future opportunities.
Champions of Diversity
Generation Z will undoubtedly be the most diverse generation – in terms of ethnicity, sexuality and more – to ever enter the workforce.
This is good news for organizations, as diversity in the workforce has been repeatedly shown to improve diversity of thought, which translates directly to improved ROI. However, as workforces grow increasingly diverse, new risks are likely to crop up.
From both a GRC and an HR perspective, it is essential to recognize potential risks in advance to effectively develop appropriate policies and codes of conduct – the aim should be to promote an inclusive workplace that treats all stakeholders with dignity and respect; programs focusing on integrity and corporate social responsibility (CSR) will be critical in developing the optimal cultures of tomorrow.
As the emerging front line, Generation Z employees can add significant value to GRC programs in a variety of ways. At the same time, though, their rise to prominence provides an unprecedented array of GRC-related challenges. Understanding and preparing for these challenges will be pivotal to the success of the organizations of tomorrow and beyond.