By Dr Daniel Kiely CCI Senior Economist and Policy Adviser, Workforce Development

The next generation of workers, Generation Z, is technologically savvy and will benefit your business with their innovative, forward thinking. To attract them, you will need to be more engaging and more accommodating than ever before.

In an era of rapidly changing technology, digital platforms and innovation, the future of how we will work, be employed and interact within the workforce is uncertain, yet exciting. Our workplaces are likely to evolve, and how we, as employees, managers, businesses and customers interact, will change. We will also have a new generation of workers joining the workforce – Generation Z – who were born in the late 90s and 2000s. ‘Gen Zers’ are more independent, and despite their proficiency in technology which, thanks to social media has prepared them for the global business environment, prefer traditional ‘in-person’ methods of communication.

We as employers and businesses need to start adapting our work practices (flexibility is the key), work places (think new layouts with an emphasis on space saving and efficiency) and making the most out of the technology that is available to enable us to work and manage people effectively.

But is your organisation Gen Z ready? Businesses and employers will have to rethink their recruiting practices to attract this group. Those who want to take advantage of Gen Z talent in the future need to develop relationships (and brand recognition) today with high school students. Businesses need to get involved in the education system, shaping Gen Zers career decisions, mentoring and educating these students, who are eager to listen. The Department of Employment’s Employment Projections to 2019 show the growing need in Australia for workers with higher skill and education levels. Generation Z will be the cohort to provide the solution to the ‘skill gap’ facing most growth industries. Businesses, no matter how small, need to engage with the future workforce as a matter of urgency. Gen Z is considered to be mature by comparison to earlier generations. They learn fast and many will put themselves on the path of entrepreneurship and leadership early on in their careers. In addition, we need to ensure that our organisations are ready to help shape and take advantage of the next generation of workers.

The future workplace will create both challenges and opportunities. Grasping these opportunities will sort out the successful businesses from stagnant ones. We will need to become even more flexible by removing set work hour structures and increasing working from remote locations. We will also need to face the challenges of managing virtual teams, working more frequently across time zones and global borders and keeping our workforces informed and up to date in a world full of rapidly changing platforms and technologies.

It’s an exciting time to be thinking about the future of our workforce. Work closely with the next generations, build up your businesses reputation in these cohorts early and adapt your workplace practices to make the most of the creative and innovative minds that you will have access too.