Four ways leaders can harness the Gen-Z talent entering logistics

Learn how to become an employer of choice with Gen-Z talent entering the workforce. Set up your company to attract the best of future talent.

4 steps to transforming your company to attract the best future talent

Demographic shifts in the logistics workforce

A Great Reshuffle is coming to logistics after The Great Resignation. A new generation of employees, different from all your workers so far, is going to be the majority of your workforce in under 8 years.

Generation X (born between 1965 – 1980) and Boomers (born before 1964) are heading into retirement. Adding to Gen-Z will be the largest segment in logistics by 2030. The retirements are adding to the global labour shortage – predicted to have a slow and uncertain recovery to pre-pandemic levels.

As part of The Great Reshuffle, The way people work in logistics is changing as well. The industry saw an unprecedented 18.5X increase in remote roles in 2021. And  90% of the millennial and Gen-Z workforce saying no to full-time office jobs.

The only way to attract and retain talent in the coming era would be to use HR technology and facilitate remote and hybrid work.

Gen-Z employees have different expectations compared to previous generations. They are also the generation who job hop the most. In 2022, they are changing jobs at a rate of 134% more than they used to in 2019. 

Searching and retaining talent is predicted to become a key leadership priority in the years to come. Leaders in logistics need to learn how to take control of the great reshuffle going on in the workforce.

What is Gen-Z and what do they want at work?

Pew Research Centre designates anyone born after 1997 as a Gen-Z. The oldest of them is turning 25 this year and about half of them are already working. Even the youngest of them have lived already lived through many crises: 9/11 and the war on terror, the 2008 Great Recession, and Covid-19. 

Every person has a unique outlook on life, no matter their generation. But research shows some trends and patterns in Gen Z, also called Zoomers.

They’ve grown up in the age of social media and the internet. This makes them digital natives. They are comfortable with gathering information from multiple sources and connecting virtually. Zoomers would be the perfect fit for companies looking to use technology like the metaverse. They could easily become early adopters and advocates of the technology to other employees.

They are a generation that is extremely worried about the effects of climate change. Gen-Z is also one of the most ethnically and racially diverse generations, who have experienced social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter and MeToo.

Top 5 concerns of Zoomers (based on 2022 survey by Deloitte)

This new generation shares some of the same values as millennials (people born from    1981 to 1996). According to Gallup, Zoomers share these workplace requirements with the previous generation.

  • An employer who cares about their wellbeing
  • Ethical leaders
  • Open, transparent leadership
  • A diverse, inclusive workplace

Zoomers like jobs that require analytical skills and engineering. Software engineering is an overwhelmingly popular career choice. Lack of experience and connections is a worry for 34% of them. Therefore, proper onboarding that includes training and education about the company will help new Zoomer employees as well as their managers

Contrary to popular belief, salary is still the first thing Zoomers consider in job opportunities. However, Gen-Z values money and salary less than any other generation. Zoomers want fair compensation. But they are much more likely to pick an interesting job that pays less over a better paid uninteresting one.

Top reasons for Gen-Z employees to work at their current job (based on 2022 survey by Deloitte)

What do Gen-Z employees bring to the table?

Zoomers are predicted to drive supply chain automation & digital transformation in the logistics companies they work for. According to Gartner, by the time Gen-Z enter leadership positions, technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) would be mainstream. These Zoomer leaders will then oversee the near-total automation of the supply chain.

56% of Gen-Z think of themselves as creative. They consider social media and social activism to add to their creativity. 63% of them say they do something creative every day. Harnessing this creativity at work can result in innovative ideas and diverse perspectives.

At the same time, they are just starting their careers. While one might think Zoomers prefer working fully remote, 48% of them prefer a hybrid environment.

Working completely remote can lead to a lack of connection and isolation. It also allows less mentorship and support, critical for early career professionals. A hybrid work environment fulfils Gen-Z’s need for work-life balance while providing them with mentorship.

If Zoomers are managed well, companies will benefit from their native technological ability and creativity. Older managers from earlier generations can play a critical role in mentoring them while learning from them in return. The right company could use the Zoomers’ ability to rally their peers to accelerate change management efforts that might be stuck due to habit.

Ruwan Senanayake, business development manager for BTi Logistics, explained how both Gen-Z and their managers can learn from each other.

My experience with Gen Z has been very positive. They are in general very focused, prompt in responding, and excellent in written and verbal communication.

Older managers could learn from the younger generation by employing the latest technology that will improve productivity as the younger generation is more tech-savvy. The younger generation seems to be able to spot and seize growth opportunities better than their managers.

The younger employees too must learn from their older managers on aspects such as stress management and multi-tasking as industry dynamics have changed due to COVID -19 induced supply chain disruptions.”

Ruwan Senanayake, Business Development Manager for BTi Logistics

Day to day actions for managers to bridge the gap between generations

Gen-Z values work-life balance, instant communication, and being heard. Some managers may take this as being impatient, looking for instant gratification, and being argumentative.

Managers from previous generations are also used to more structured hierarchies and outcome-based management.

Hybrid work requires a new style of leadership as outcome and hierarchy based management is not sustainable and effective. This requires a shift in mindset among leaders, like the changes older managers need to make when managing millennials.

Some key daily actions for managers to bridge the generational gap would include

  • Learning soft skills like empathy, coaching, and motivating employees
  • Laying out clear expectations and upfront so Gen-Z hires understand the demands of the job
  • Offering regular, constructive feedback as a mentor to Zoomer employees
  • Respecting the inherent advantages of Gen-Z and providing them appropriate opportunities to use them at work

However, the action with the most impact to attract and retain Gen-Z employees would be to transform your culture and working environment to match the future of work.

4 ways leaders can transform companies to attract Gen-Z talent

Most companies already understand the need to invest in digital transformation technology. But only a few are investing in transformational thinking.

Gen-Z employees value mental health, diversity, and flexibility. 46% say they are burnt out at work and 40% would like to leave their current job within two years.

This presents an opportunity for companies willing to transform – both culturally and technically – a great opportunity to attract and retain the tech-savvy Gen-Z.

At the same time, 57% of workers also say they would stay in their job if mental health services were provided. Developing a reputation for caring about employee wellbeing and using technology to support mental health needs can set up your company as an employer of choice.

Leaders may need to develop emotional intelligence from the top-down to create a culture that takes mental health concerns seriously.

  • Create a workplace that values diversity and inclusion: Leslie Poston, Chief Marketing Officer for Austin Data Labs, commented on how diversity and inclusion for Gen-Z go beyond traditional framing.

“The ability for management to see value in diversity (not just diversity in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion sense, but the diversity of support needs, problem-solving techniques, and abilities) will be essential to working with Gen Z.

I’d say creating a culture of supportive communication that crosses departments and hierarchies (is the best thing leaders could do). The desire of Gen Z for both more emotional support and more workplace flexibility requires open-minded communication.

Creating onboarding packages that cater to Gen Z’s desire for both comprehensive training and open dialogue will also help.”

  • Take the initiative to go hybrid: Gen-Z values flexibility and work-life balance. and 62% of them have a side hustle. Many have multiple hobbies. While logistics companies traditionally expect employees to focus on their job, it may have to change to accommodate Gen-Z.

If your company is not already automating and cutting down on busy work, it will get harder as time goes by in a tough labour market. The best way to attract the new generation of talent while maintaining productivity is through digital transformation.

A hybrid, digitalised workplace will fulfil Gen-Z’s needs while allowing you to use their tech-savviness and drive for collaboration. You could use cross-generational teams with the right mix of experiential knowledge, practical knowledge, and innovation to move the company forward.

Start today to attract the talent of tomorrow

Bring in the changes in thinking and technology now in your company to succeed in the future labour market. Complete overhauls in culture take time. But you can immediately start your digital transformation efforts with CargoWise solutions implemented by SFL.

Beat your competition and attract the best talent of the next generation. Take your first step today by booking a free discovery call.