Comment: Getting ready for Generation Z

By: David Boyce, CEO, NZ Trucking Association


Each generation is different from the previous one, with different ambitions and goals in life. NZTA comments on how the industry should understand, engage, and prepare for Generation Z.

The social demographics of the workplace is ever evolving with new people entering the workforce. Each generation is different from the previous one, with different ambitions and goals in life. 

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Born in 1995, Dannevirke-based trucker Sam Exeter fits within the 1995–2010 ‘Z’ generation dates

Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010, the oldest of which is now about 22 years of age, will soon enter the workforce. These young people are the ones you will be trying to attract into your business over the next 10 to 20 years.

So what is different about this generation over others in your workforce?

For one, they don’t remember life without a smartphone in their hand, and they are skilled and confident with technology and social media.

They have a social conscience and care about others and the community they live in. They will inherit from their parents, the Baby Boomers, and this, in turn, will influence many of the decisions they make in their life. In a lot of ways, they are like their parent’s generation, but they will expect the workplace to conform to their needs.

So as a business owner how do you understand, engage, and prepare for Generation Z?

This generation wants security. They have seen their parents struggle financially. They are pragmatic and lean towards security and money.

They have a desire for financial success and will work for one company long-term, but you need to invest in their career growth with a planned career path, including personal development and financial reward.

You need to show that you care about their future. They also like to communicate face to face and appreciate regular one-on-one meetings. This generation expects regular feedback. They will challenge the status quo and won’t accept "this is the way we have always done it".

They don’t want to be micromanaged and need the freedom to learn from their their own mistakes. You still need to remain involved to keep them on track and to integrate the lessons learnt.

This generation is highly motivated and willing to work hard to achieve their dreams. They know that it won’t be handed to them on a plate, but they do expect to be rewarded for their hard work. They are entrepreneurial and have a willingness to innovate. Many will want to start their own business one day.

They can make great employees, soaking up as much knowledge as they can and taking on many different challenges. Businesses will need to find ways to stimulate and challenge them; otherwise, they will quickly become bored of doing the same thing all the time.

They have an amazing ability to multitask. They have always lived in a world connected by technology. They easily switch between different tasks and can quickly and efficiently shift between work and play.

This generation is also more likely to skip going to the university and the years of student loan debt that comes with it and would prefer to look for good career options in the workforce.

However, this doesn’t mean they won’t have the skills you are looking for; they will have just learnt them by different means. They will be attracted to the trades and to good employers who can offer a good career path with security, lifestyle, social status, and financial reward.

As an industry, we need to offer a more appealing career path to attract Generation Z. We need to change their predetermined perception of an industry that is dominated by overweight, unfit older males who spend their whole life behind the wheel of a truck.

We need to better showcase the many and varied career options available to them. Our industry is not just about long hours. These young people want working hours that allow them to spend a reasonable amount of time with family and friends.

We need to make a radical step change in our culture to attract this generation or we are going to continue the cycle of struggling to attract new employees to our industry.

The New Zealand Trucking Association is actively engaging with Generation Z, visiting them at their schools and in the community with the Safety MAN Road Safety Truck.

We are not only showing them that as an industry we are engaging with their community on road safety issues but also informing them about the vast range of career options available within the trucking industry. 

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