Move over Gen Z – Generation Alpha will soon be knocking on the workplace door!
Set to be the largest generation to date (it is predicted that there will be over 2 billion of them globally!), Gen Alpha are the children who will be born to predominantly Millennial parents between the years of 2010-2024.
This is also a time when we have seen continuous technological strides, the increasing adoption of AI, and the dawn of the metaverse, so it wouldn’t be surprising to assume that their expectations of the working world will be vastly different to the ones previous generations have grown up with.
Now, at the turn of the century, the author Douglas Adams offered a set of rules about these kinds of change which I would like to apply to this new generation of talent:
- Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
- Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
- Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
So, what might this tell us about the expectations of Alphas as they enter the workplace – and what we should be building into our evolving People strategies?
- They will learn digitally – this next generation of kids include the ‘Covid-kids’, and because the majority of them had to go through school during the pandemic, they have had early access to learning online. With some schools still continuing this hybrid learning, and nearly a third of university courses adopting it, this will see a digitally native generation like never before. While we’ve seen some growing pains as hybrid and remote working styles continue to gain popularity, these new workers will likely thrive working remotely, as they are already well accustomed to it. Therefore, they will most likely be attracted to jobs that offer this flexibility, as it will be entirely familiar to them.
- They will specialise earlier – due to their access to technology, Gen Alpha will find themselves being able to specialise earlier and heading into more niche jobs – some of which don’t even exist yet. It’s likely companies will be seeing a rise in jobs like drone pilots, user experience managers, life simplifiers, and virtual reality engineers as this new generation herald in a new technological age. From this perspective, innovation will be at the heart of these young people, and so employers who can create opportunities to job craft are going to be very attractive to this new wave of workers. It is also thought that they will have a significant lack of engagement with deskless jobs, and these hands-on careers will likely be less attractive to a generation who have grown up with automation and assistance at their fingertips.
- Digital networking – Growing up with social media means that Gen Alpha are the most interconnected generation to ever have existed. 65% of them aged 8-11 either own or have access to a mobile phone, as well have having designated messaging apps to communicate with each other, such as Roblox chat and Messenger Kids. Another survey found that 43% of them preferred to speak to their friends online over the weekend instead of see them in person, so it isn’t shocking to hear that this digital communication reliance will translate into the working world. They will want to network digitally and globally; the idea of working across time zones will be a desirable and normal one, as they are already very adapted to communication across the world. If companies can create the space for this globalised platform to take shape, the results could see different sectors of work combining to create new, innovative products not yet even thought of.
- Virtual assistants – research has found that Generation Alpha started speaking with their smart devices at the age of six. It will come as no surprise then to discover that they will most likely expect to have a virtual assistant of some sort when they start working. Growing up with Alexa, Siri, and Cortana to answer their questions and conduct their ‘admin’ tasks will create an expectation to have access to this assistance in the workplace. The Work 2035 Report reflects this notion, as it found that by 2035, 83% of professionals believed that technology will automate repetitive low-value tasks, freeing up time for Alphas to focus on more meaningful and skilled work.
- Recognition will retain – it is more than likely that validation and affirmation will be a driving force for Gen Alphas. After growing up with social media and having digital validation drilled into them, a company’s recognition and rewards strategies are going to play a huge part in retaining key Alpha talent.
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) and Sustainability – these are going to be the driving forces for attracting future talent. As we’ve already seen with Gen Z, those growing up now are going to be well versed in being socially conscious, moral, and understanding the long-term effects of climate change. This will mean that an organization’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda will be more important than ever, as Alphas will be looking at what organizations are doing to better the planet. And from a DEI standpoint, as companies continue to see increasingly diversified C-suites and people in positions of power, the idea of having a diverse workforce will almost be a given to these young people. If employers are ensuring that these factors are being optimized, they will gain access to the top talent that the Alpha generation has to offer.
The evolution of the workplace has accelerated exponentially over the past few years. The structure of work has become much more elastic in nature, and it continues to evolve in all sorts of unexpected directions as time goes on.
The next generation of workers are set to make a huge impact in the working world, so if we start to prepare for them now, their assimilation and onboarding will be a smooth and productive process.
If you would like to discuss how to start planning and preparing your workplace for the generation to come, please get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org