Gen Z will future-proof a business if they are taken seriously
If you are recruiting a junior member of your team - an intern for your finance team or your next candidate attorney - you are more than likely recruiting from the change and tech enabled Generation Z.
Born between 1995 and 2010 Gen Z want very different things from their employers. Have you considered the impact of a younger workforce in your longer term business strategy?
This is not a phenomenon confined to the West. Gen Z Africans are the first African generation to be truly global. They are connected through their devices, not just to their local peer group from school and university, but to people in other African countries and other parts of the world. Social media has created an insatiable desire to be connected - virtually.
No longer do young, aspiring African lawyers have to rely on a ‘big-named’ partner over the door to gain access. There are many routes to building their networks online and they use them. Without the barriers that geography used to hold, Gen Z has the potential to revolutionise Africa and it won’t wait for you to catch up. If a Gen Z employee doesn’t get what they need from you as an employer, they will go.
The legal industry risks losing the best talent to other industry sectors if it doesn’t accept and address this quickly. Young Africans are far ahead of most legal industry leaders when it comes to technical hard skills. A law firm leader that understands the importance of skills like coding, legal project management and the benefits of embracing technology in business, and is not afraid to allow a junior to have a voice in strategy, could be on to a winner. With Forbes magazines predicting that 80% of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud applications in 2019, how can you not be looking at Gen Z?
But where do you start?
This generation has a huge appetite to learn and better themselves. Ongoing professional learning should be a priority. Review your training programme and consider who it is aimed at and whether it is truly fit for your future business needs. By using a combination of video, text, activities and allowing learners to interact, you will keep Gen Zs more engaged than if they were being talked at. And, be specific. Offer practical, on the job skills delivered in short bite-sized courses.
Give everyone an opportunity to shine, to be recognised both within the firm and on social media and in professional networks. Efforts should be noted and that doesn’t just mean the fee-earners. The impact and importance of business services staff in aiding change should be recognised equally.
Care about culture. Gen Z want authenticity and they want to see what you say matches up with reality. Share your company culture on your website and beyond. Demonstrate it in videos, blog posts and show your office space via virtual reality. If you don’t like what you see, think about how you can change it for the better.
Recruit and communicate in a way that brings out the best in your interviewee. If that means using video conference, Snapchat and Whatsapp to do your pre-screening round then, so be it!
Consider reverse mentoring. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. As a partner you could pass on the key soft skills that were essential in your career and that Gen Z might be missing in return for them showing you how to use e-signature technology or improve your digital processes. Collaboration is key; create an environment were the whole team gains rather than encouraging internal competition where one wins over another.
Manage output rather than hours on the clock. Consider whether flexible or remote working could be possible. Studies shows this significantly improves staff engagement and employment satisfaction.
Gen Zs are typically more socially conscious and motivated than their predecessors. Yes, they want to succeed but, in doing so, they want to make an impact. Each firm should consider how sustainable their business is and what community causes they are backing and enabling their workforce to get involved in.
Gen Z does care about remuneration - alot. Gen Y could be motivated by benefits and, while work/life balance matters to the Zs, they expect it - and a good salary. So, if your associates are paid poorly while the partners earn significantly more and don’t reinvest in tech and training, it might be time to reconsider.
Gen Z wants real time feedback. Once a year is no longer enough. Consider online feedback forms that work alongside more formal reviews that allow employees to give and receive feedback in a way that is not overly time burdensome for the employer.
Finally, if you are looking to implement changes, create a change management programme that includes a clear communication and training plan. Consider the impact on your whole team and ensure it is aligned with business strategy.
Law firms don’t have to change of course; there are nuances in the industry that simply don’t apply in other sectors. However, for the forward-thinking tech-enabled law firm who embraces this generation, and is prepared to make the leap to change,…...many see reduced costs, more satisfied clients, greater ability to win work across more diverse global sectors and, ultimately, the future-proofing of their business. I know which route I would choose.
To access a pool of legal Gen Zs access an Africa Legal’s CV database here.
To talk to our experienced team about how to recruit, manage, teach or lead change-management projects contact us on email@example.com
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