Perhaps the single biggest question prompted by company leaders everywhere regarding the subject of the Future of Work is what the work dynamic will entail under the directorship of Gen Z. This query comes with increasingly warranted pressure, as Generation Z already constitutes over a fourth of the globe’s population, and is projected to comprise approximately 20% of the workforce in the US by 2020. The work dynamic under Gen Z CEOs is best explained when it is boiled down into three distinct categories, each of which are equally relevant and function in conjunction with one other: the hiring process, the work environment, and the Gen Z enterprise approach to artificial intelligence implementations. By elaborating upon the nature of each of these three categories, enterprises will have the ability to not only internalize future work dynamics under Gen Z CEOs, but companies will also be equipped with the proper knowledge to facilitate preparatory internal transformation, which will set the stage for Gen Z leadership in the new global digital economy.
In the Gen Z workplace, two prospective employee attributes will be prioritized as part of company onboarding processes: an innovative mindset, and deep understanding of culture and ethics. Gen Z employers will be reluctant to hire individuals who fail to prominently display the aforementioned characteristics.
An innovative mindset will be emphasized over previous work experience: Gen Z employers will be on constant lookout for transformers––individuals who are capable of taking the enterprise to the next level, regardless of work history or academic accreditations. Moreover, a heavy emphasis will be placed upon personal skills over past experience. This is a reflection of the forward-thinking approach that is ingrained within Gen Z preferences.
A working understanding of culture and ethics will be key: Job candidates will be expected to possess functioning knowledge of ethical frameworks and must understand how they will personally contribute to the elevation of the workplace culture. Gen Z employers will likely provide candidates with a set of ethical and cultural principles and codes, which will serve as required readings prior to the job interview process.
Candidates that satisfy the above attributes will experience success in the Gen Z enterprise world. These new employees will further encounter a fresh work dynamic. The Gen Z Work Environment Work dynamics under Gen Z will be characterized by a focus on the human experience and an approach to leadership that focuses on collaboration and internal innovation:
Continuous learning opportunities, reskilling/upskilling: According to LinkedIn, 62% of Gen Z stated that hard skills have changed faster than ever and are more important than soft skills. Moreover, industry reports show that 90% of Generation Z workers prefer a dynamic and fast working environment. Because of this, Gen Z chief executives will not only provide their employees with countless opportunities to innovate within the organization and act as true intrapreneurs but will mandate internal reskilling/upskilling campaigns.
Bottom-up approach to leadership: The Gen Z workplace will pioneer collaboration over hierarchy, and emphasize a true human-centric structure, as entry level employees will be considered integral components in the purpose-driven, social impact approach of the company. The Gen Z CEO will champion internal innovation and will encourage employees to operate as individual business units, reflective of a startup environment. The Gen Z boss will recognize this as the most efficient and optimal strategy to usher in true enterprise transformation.
The C-Suite: Executive positions under Gen Z leadership will resemble a transformative, digital augmentation of today’s C-Suite positions. Employees can expect to work under the umbrella of the following executive occupations: Chief Empathy Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Ethical Officer, Chief Transparency Officer, Chief Humanistic Officer, Chief AI ROI Officer. These roles make it clear that even at the executive level, there will be a restructuring of the current enterprise model, which will largely reflect the prioritization of ethics, accountability, and transformation as key cultural frameworks.
An ethics and accountability first culture: As mentioned in the above point, Gen Z will mandate an ethics, responsibility, transparency, and accountability first culture. This will come in the form of formal codes of conduct that employees will be required to familiarize themselves with, Gen Z leaders will amend business plans in a way that makes social impact the imperative mission, and the C-Suite level will reflect the ethics and accountability mindset as the face of the enterprise.
These four elements will constitute the future Gen Z work dynamic, which will be powered by an inclusivity-driven, responsible AImindset.
Responsible Artificial Intelligence In The Gen Z Workplace
Phase 1: Recognition The first phase of this specific Gen Z responsible AI scalability model entails recognition of the need to recruit diverse teams and the importance of non-homogeneity. It calls upon the enterprise to identify the current gap in non-homogeneity and assess why this gap exists in the first place. These details will serve of great importance in the next phase of the model.
Phase 2: Innovating Models Once the enterprise has recognized the need for non-homogenous teams, it will then be the premier objective of the C-Suite executives to begin a process of innovating models. This phase entails understanding the implications of data bias reduction (and other such matters), on responsible AIapplications and uses case implementations, as well as diving deep into the effects of non-homogenous teams on overall ROI from AIapplications. It is after the innovation phase that the piloting phase begins.
Phase 3: Piloting Upon the conclusion of Phase 2, the enterprise will combine the knowledge and efforts collected in the previous phases in order to pilot the first responsible AIapproaches at scale. This calls upon the firm to actively seek non-homogenous teams, leverage current workplace diversity, and educate the employee population on why non-homogenous teams are crucial to responsible AI applications. After this step, the enterprise will begin the Pioneering phase.
Phase 4: Pioneering At this juncture in the Gen Z responsible AIscalability model, the enterprise is mature enough to begin to make diversity-first hiring campaigns the status quo, to prioritize said teams as an inseparable element of the socially-impact-driven business framework, and to begin to champion transformative, diversity-driven machine learning and responsible AI models. This is the phase that defines the firm as an industry leader in social impact, promulgated by the inclusivity-first approach that powers the Gen Z economy.
Phase 5 Reinvention The fifth and final phase of this model cements the enterprise status as a truly responsible AI driven entity. Building upon the Pioneering phase, at the point of Reinvention, the enterprise augments the business framework with measurable variables in the context of non-homogenous team applications, such as the invention of novel, standard key performance indicators, all the while establishing diversity as the required precursor for all XAI and Ethical AIcapabilities.
Conclusion and Recommendations Cultural transformation along with a human-centric, social impact approach driven by responsible AI will define the future work dynamic under Gen Z leadership. In order for enterprises to prepare themselves for this reality of tomorrow, it is necessary to begin the process of: assessing current workplace culture, understanding the need for non-homogeneity in workflow, augmenting the C-Suite to reflect a cultural transformation in tandem with a digitalization first mindset, and drafting of official codes of ethical conduct and cultural principles. This is the way forward––welcome to the global economy of Gen Z.
Copyright by Angelica Sirotin, Gen Z Digitalization Expert ☆ Venture Entrepreneur, Founder ☆ Advisor to Mark Minevich ☆ Executive Podcast Producer
“Because of Gen Z’s pioneering spirit, anti-hierarchy mentality, and human-centric, inclusivity-driven approach, this generation will permanently alter the face of the current enterprise model as we know it and will champion the novel, social impact geared global economy of tomorrow.” - Angelica Sirotin