Are we Gen Z ready?
Is the Built Environment doing everything it can to attract young people? 18 months of research, culminating in a large UK study provides the answers...
Are we Gen Z ready?
A roadmap to securing the construction
and property industry’s future workforce
Sparking ideas, debate and action
The question of how to
attract, develop and retain
a talented workforce is not a dilemma unique to businesses operating in the built environment.
But as the world of work evolves, and with it the
perceptions and wants of future generations, the
importance of answering it could not be clearer.
Generation Z, or ‘Gen Z’ is loosely defined as people born after
1995. They are true digital natives.
Received wisdom suggests the vast majority also place a real
emphasis on sustainable, inclusive, and socially responsible
ways of working – perhaps more than any generation
There is little interest in profit without purpose and concerns about climate change are strongly vocalised.
There is an obvious sense of serendipity which forward-thinking companies at the forefront of many of these agendas can harness, as they aim to recruit and retain future talent.
Demonstrating the work taking place in these key areas has, in theory, the potential to be a major recruitment driver for Gen Z. However, although we accept that in broad terms these shared objectives should align, have we, as an industry, engaged sufficiently with Gen Z to know what specifically they want?
Not just from a top-line industry branding perspective, but in detailed terms across a full cycle of career development, spanning recruitment to reward, and progression.
Have we engaged Gen Z sufficiently?
- We've only just started to...
- No, we have lots more to do!
Around 18 months ago, Morgan Sindall Construction, Gleeds and HBD decided that we had not engaged Generation Z sufficiently, and set about correcting that.
In partnership, we launched a combined initiative involving six of our recent graduates to help answer those questions.
Over a year-long programme, they were asked to help us identify ways to attract Gen Z talent and to establish what this group of future leaders prioritised throughout a career lifecycle.
They were given a blank canvas to propose innovative ideas aimed at attracting, engaging, motivating, and rewarding their peers.
The external research discussed in this white paper forms the second half of the programme. We wanted to understand how some of these innovative ideas and policies from our Gen Z cohort would be received by a broad, diverse sample of their peers and, more generally, to take stock of current perceptions of the construction and property industries.
Crucially, we wanted to gauge sentiment from all sections of the prospective built environment workforce; not simply those considering the graduate-level roles our three businesses employ directly, but people more likely to thrive in skilled hands-on trades.
The ongoing shortage of bricklayers, masons and welders impacts every company working to shape the built environment.
All three of the businesses involved in this initiative recognise the imperative to address this.
Is awareness of the positive steps being taken to address the climate emergency, deliver social value for communities, and diversify the workforce cutting through? Or does the built environment still suffer from an enduring image problem?
In sharing these findings, we hope to spark collaborative cross-industry action to address the areas of concern they highlight; while also shining a light on innovative ideas and key drivers which progressive businesses working across the built environment should prioritise to secure
a future-fit Gen Z workforce.
There has never been a better opportunity
to change things in our industry, and now
we have the ideas, data, and evidence to
fuel the journey. We hope you can join us.
Generation Z Project Lead
The current position
There's more to be done
Businesses operating in the built environment have been wrestling with how to appeal to the next generation of workers since before most of Gen Z were born.
Notable collaborative initiatives between industry, education providers, trade bodies and government
have made inroads. But the current skills picture
suggests there is much work still to be done.
There were 28,000 job vacancies in the last quarter of 2020, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data – a figure which increased by more than 25% compared to earlier in the year. This is far from a short-term spike in demand.
Mark Farmer’s seminal 2016 ‘Modernise or die’ review into the construction industry predicted that, based on the current age of the workforce and lack of new entrants, almost one in four construction workers could exit the sector within a decade.
A more recent, 2019, estimate from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) suggests that there is still serious work to do to address the skills shortage. Its report estimated the industry will require an additional 168,500 workers by 2023.
A CITB 2018 report into the sector’s ageing workforce highlighted that 48,000 workers over the age of 50 leave the sector each year – around 6.5% of the total workforce.
The productivity gains and capacity offered by
increased automation, on-site exoskeletons, or offsite
construction techniques will not be sufficient to redress
this shortfall; not least because harnessing this
innovation requires new skills.
This must be met by both upskilling the existing
workforce and conveying the variety of new
digitally-focussed roles available.
Brexit and availability of foreign workers
A 2018 Construction Leadership Council (CLC) report predicted that the UK’s departure from the European Union would further worsen the skills shortage, with a restriction on the free movement of workers; reporting that 8% of the UK construction workforce were mainly from the EU / European Economic Area.
More Recent ONS data confirms the troubling picture: more than one in four EU-born workers left the industry between the end of 2019 and the third quarter of 2020.
Which of these is the most pressing challenge?
- A growing skills gap
- An aging workforce
- Brexit and availability of foreign workers
What the data says
Infographic highlights and survey method
The current industry picture highlighted the need to bring fresh, new talent into the built environment in order to address the growing skills gap and aging workforce.
As three leading businesses operating in the built environment, we decided to hold a cross-business attraction forum in order to examine the best way to attract, retain, reward, and develop the industry’s future-fit workforce.
Over an 18-month programme, we invited recent starters from each organisation to re-think the recruitment, on boarding, development and retention processes for Generation Z. Our attendees then set out their ideas for improving them, making recommendations on how businesses could appeal to new entrants who might not have considered a career in construction, or even be aware of the jobs available.
The feedback made for a fascinating insight into young peoples’ perceptions of the industry and the jobs market. Our Gen Z-ers showed similar aspirations to the ambitions of the sector; while simultaneously revealing perceptions about the industry as an age group that we, as industry leaders, hadn’t considered before.
It was clear we needed to examine the subject further. In March 2021, we did just that.
We carried out an extensive survey to ask 1025 people aged 16-24 for their career opinions. The range of respondents were diverse with 51% being female and 49% male. Meanwhile, 55% were White British and 36% were from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Our questions ranged from their top job motivators, to their favourite form of social media. From the survey results, we hoped to understand what motivates Gen-Z when applying for jobs, as well as once in them; what their attitudes were to the built environment; and finally, what their attitudes are to life and self.
From them, we discovered the following...
How do we even get people to click on our industry?
But for the construction and property industries, the question of how to even attract the attention of a future workforce is perhaps the most pressing.
In an early discussion session between our Gen Z cohort from across the three businesses, one participant put it aptly: ‘how do we even get young people to click on the built environment, let alone our individual brands?’
How do we even get young people to click on the built environment, let alone our individual brands?
Changing that default behaviour has been a strategic goal of policymakers, industry trade bodies and businesses in the sector since before many of Generation Z were born.
Some negative perceptions of the industry remain problematic; actively discouraging young people.
But, as this research highlights, there is an equally pressing problem: a lack of awareness about the industry causing many simply not to even consider it.
Does the built environment have a brand problem?
- Yes it needs work!
- No way
What do Generation Z want from a career?
Our research first set out to establish what factors are important to Gen Z when choosing a career.
At this stage, respondents had no indication that the survey would move onto focus onto the built environment specifically.
When asked to list words positively associated with a career they aspired to, ‘pay’ ‘salary’ and ‘enjoyment’ were the most used.
Being well paid was the top response, cited as essential or very important by more than half (54%), with job security (51%) and the ability to develop skills (50%) also seen as priorities.
The ability to work in a career which has a positive impact on the environment was considered key by 34%, while the scope to work in an industry which benefits society more generally was a key motivator for four in 10.
It is unsurprising that remuneration and job security rank so highly. Most, if not all, workers see both as important.
However, Generation Z has grown up in the fallout from the financial crisis, which may further explain some of their attitudes towards uncertainty and job security. Their generation has also now experienced the COVID-19 pandemic too.
It is also a point worth remembering and prioritising when trying to promote a career working in the built environment.
Otherwise, there is a risk that the softer, and arguably deeper and more interesting elements, are prioritised in recruitment campaigns; when highlighting breadth and volume of well-paying roles, with salaries outstripping the national average may be more effective.
When analysing the different motivations between female and male respondents, there were some subtle yet interesting differences.
Women placed slightly more emphasis on working in a career which impacts the environment positively.
They also rated the ability to impact society positively, and benefit from flexible working conditions, as significantly more important
than men did.
The Gen Z research sample were then asked to rank their consideration of a range of sectors. Half chose media as their preferred industry, which was the top response.
This was closely followed by healthcare (48%), retail (48%) and hospitality (47%). Service industries overall were perceived positively.
Worryingly, less than a third of respondents (31%) would consider a career in construction and the built environment.
The sector ranked second bottom, with only agriculture (26%) faring worst. Industrials as a whole seem to hold little attraction to Gen Z, with manufacturing (31%) and energy (32%) also among the least popular choices.
Construction was also rejected by more than half (57%) of women, highlighting that there is still real work to do to address female perceptions of the industry.
In terms of ethnic diversity however, our findings seem more promising. Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) respondents were 36% likely to consider a career in the industry which is 12% more than their white counterparts.
Does the built environment still have an image problem?
Drilling down into the reasons behind the poor response to construction, it’s apparent that many of the negative perceptions which the sector has worked to address for decades remain pervasive.
Just over a quarter of respondents indicated they would not consider a career in the industry due to perceiving it dangerous (28%) or dirty (26%).
The most cited reason for disinterest in the sector, however, was simply that it did not interest them (46%).
Almost a third (32%) rejected the industry because they indicated that they felt it was both male dominated and involved manual labour
These responses raise several interesting discussion points.
Clearly, the sector still has work to do to change some of the views which business and policy leaders would term outdated stereotypes.
Communicating the breadth of highly-skilled roles available – both on and off site – and the unerring focus that policymakers and the sector’s leading businesses place on health, safety and wellbeing, remains a priority.
Arguably of equal concern, is the fact that such a large proportion are simply not interested in the built environment.
Setting aside the negative stereotypes which still need to be addressed, the research also indicates that a driver for this apathy may be a lack of understanding from a younger generation about the positive, rewarding nature of work in the built environment.
An unwavering constant in previous research about Generation Z’s attitudes and priorities, is that this age group sees the climate emergency as the most pressing threat facing the world.
Our data confirms that the majority (62%) of Gen Z are still aware of and engaged with the climate emergency.
Perhaps more surprising, is the finding that awareness of the work being undertaken in the built environment to address the issue is so low.
Just one in three see the built environment as a sector where they can work to effect positive change on environmental concerns.
Addressing this disconnect must surely become a priority: conveying both the construction and property industries’ responsibility to lead change as a major contributor to carbon emissions; alongside the innovative work being done to reduce both the operational and embodied carbon footprint of the sector.
There was also a lack of awareness around the capacity to use and develop digital skills, with less than one in three (32%) respondents aware that the industry is undergoing digital transformation, and facing a similar demand for coders and data scientists as many other sectors.
This knowledge gap is another obvious area for the built environment to address. The sector has been comparatively late to adopt digital technology.
But from established tools like BIM (Building Information Modelling), to augmented and virtual reality tools, the industry is now embracing digitisation.
"To ensure that this progress does not become bottlenecked by the same skills shortage facing other areas of the sector, real action is needed. In doing so, construction can further dispel the myth that the work is solely hands-on and analogue; appealing to a digitally-native future talent pool."
Guiding Gen Z towards our industry
Improving the perception
of the industry, or even
making Gen Z aware of it
as an option, are only
the initial challenges.
From there, a young talented future generation of prospective professionals still need the right advice and information to guide them towards the industry.
If fair and healthy remuneration, and job security, are hygiene factors for Gen Z to even consider the built environment, then the strong desire to contribute positively to society can be a positive differentiation; a pull factor which businesses need to harness to drive engagement.
Over the past decade, the sector’s most progressive companies have embraced their responsibility to elicit meaningful social value in the communities they operate.
Our research shows that when it comes to choosing a specific employer, 70% of Gen Z would be more likely to apply to a company with a purpose-led approach and clearly defined values.
It was the second strongest motivating factor when applying for a role, alongside a clearly defined salary and benefits package.
The responses also reveal that family and friends play a key role in shaping perceptions of the industry and the likelihood to consider construction for a career.
47% of respondents who had previously received positive information about the construction or property industry from family or friends were much more likely to consider a career in the industry.
Thorough careers advice and early engagement with schoolchildren have long been recognised as key to addressing the skills gap.
This was re-enforced by our research, with 64% of respondents who had received no careers advice about the built environment, rejecting the industry outright.
In comparison, out of those who had received detailed careers advice on the sector, more than half said they would definitely (26%) or might (32%) consider working in the industry.
Out of those who had received careers advice on the sector, more than half said they would definitely, or might consider working in the industry.
Concerningly, men were more likely (20%) to receive in-depth advice than women (12%).
Consideration of all industrial sectors, including construction, increased markedly by age. Those aged 16-17 showed very little interest in the sector.
This suggests schools, businesses and policymakers must work together to do more to promote the built environment as a career option to this age group.
Does our industry provide enough careers advice?
Another interesting finding from the research, which tallies from our own Gen Z cohort’s experience, is that many graduates are unaware that their education and training could be invaluable when working in the built environment.
Our group studied a range of undergraduate degrees, not traditionally associated with construction, from law to history, with many unaware that these study programmes would leave them well-equipped for a career in construction.
They are now working in roles spanning project management, property development, quantity surveying, business development and marketing.
Almost half of the Gen Z panel (45%) surveyed through the external research did not see their degree as relevant for the built environment.
This was particularly pronounced in those with arts degrees (53%), but 34% of those with business degrees and 42% with degrees in STEM (science, technology engineering and maths) subjects also felt their field of study was not relevant to a career working in the built environment.
These degrees are clearly relevant to the built environment, highlighting the need to make a stronger connection between STEM students and the wide range of careers in the industry.
"45% of Gen Z-ers did not see their degree as being relevant, highlighting the need to make a stronger connection between studies and the built environment."
Re-thinking Gen Z recruitment
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Gen Z use social media to research
careers generally, and to explore specific job opportunities: they
are digital natives.
And for at least half of their lives, this age group has become accustomed to consuming content through a range of social channels.
But our research reveals that LinkedIn – the social platform most widely associated with job searching and careers – was only the fifth most used channel by Gen Z for career research.
Just 30% of respondents cited it as their main source of information. It lost out to Instagram in first place (49%), Facebook (41%), TikTok (34%) and Snapchat (31%).
This finding was predicted by our cohort of Gen Z during the internal working groups,
who pointed out that few employers in any industry were maximising social media platforms to engage young future talent.
It was also highlighted that
use of LinkedIn was very
low amongst their peer
group, before they had
entered the professional
world, with one forum
attendee explaining that
LinkedIn was a module
of their degree “only
lightly touched upon”
at the very end of
One of the core ideas proposed by our own Gen Z-ers was for visually-led adverts on Instagram; a platform well-suited to maximising striking images of the built environment to drive engagement.
This concept was tested as part of the external research and performed very well, with 72% of respondents rating it as good, very good or excellent.
The external Gen Z panel was also then specifically asked which their preferred platform for a job advert was, and 58% chose Instagram.
Although the image-led social platform would appear to be the obvious choice for Gen Z recruitment currently, TikTok’s position in third place suggests there is a place for businesses and brands in the built environment which can produce punchy video content suitable for the platform.
Click on the concept image opposite to see what the survey respondents were reacting to.
Which social media platforms should businesses be using to attract Gen Z talent?
Traditional application processes also received some criticism during our internal Gen Z workshops. There were recommendations to move away from a reliance on a standard two-page CV.
One of the key alternatives proposed was for a two-way app which prospective candidates could download and use to find out more information from a role, over and above a written job description.
This could involve a short ‘day in the life’ vlog of someone in the role currently; the ability to submit digital CVs or portfolios to encourage creativity; interview and testing conducted through the app to streamline stages, before moving onto in-person final interviews.
This concept was tested with the external Gen Z panel and received a positive response, with 76% rating it good, very good or excellent. Half said it either made the built environment more appealing or much more appealing.
Don't beat around the bush
Employees who have been attracted, and properly engaged, by the industry will feel motivated as an early entrant.
The next step is to continue this and ensure their talent and efforts once established in work are recognised with a well-designed reward system and benefits package.
But as our survey found,
salary and bonuses appear to be particularly important to
Perhaps due to the financially unstable environment they have grown up in, having lived through at least two ‘once in a lifetime’ recessions, and events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, our survey shows that 53% of all respondents thought that they would have to work harder than previous generations.
Rising salary and benefits was comfortably the most popular option cited by respondents when it came to motivating factors while in a role.
Three of the top four ranked employee benefits in our survey were clear and inclusive bonus structures, staff discounts, and a credit-based reward system.
All of these can be measured with a monetary value, again suggesting Gen Z are shrewd and focussed on their total compensation.
This is re-enforced by the least popular motivators: awards ceremonies; thank you letters; and newsletters highlighting achievements all ranked poorly with our external research respondents.
That 29% of respondents wanted a clear and inclusive bonus structure suggests that Gen Z want benefits to be implemented fairly across the board.
This is in keeping with other survey findings, which highlight working for an equal opportunities’ employer as a key pull factor for Gen Z, with 45% of all respondents ranking it as either very important or essential.
Being an equal opportunities’ employer also means giving all employees the platform to voice any concerns they might have that their work is not being appreciated.
One of the ideas discussed during our internal Gen Z working groups was self-setting salaries, which would give Gen Z a degree of autonomy over their compensation as well as provide opportunity for consistent salary reviews.
Another idea was the ‘One Wish’ app (survey concept image pictured opposite).
This mobile platform would allow users to build up credit scores as a direct result of their work, which could then be redeemed for various items such as return flights to a chosen destination or an online voucher for a specified store.
When posed to the external Gen Z respondents, more than half (53%) said it would make working in the built environment more appealing.
As this research highlights, there is belief among Gen Z that
construction performs poorly in relation to other sectors
when it comes to pay.
Their perception of the construction and property industries has already been discussed in relation to attracting talent. It is a similarly important consideration when it comes to rewarding employees.
Total benefits package scored fourth lowest when respondents were asked for their opinion on what a job in construction would give them with only 37% agreeing that the industry offers it.
It should be noted that respondents aged 16-17 were less likely to rate the built environment favourably in terms of benefits available when compared to 21-24-year olds.
This perhaps indicates a lack of education about the opportunities available for younger respondents and re-enforces the need for early engagement to promote construction and property in primary and secondary schools.
In addition to implementing the more popular choices for benefits programmes, such as away days and staff discounts, making these results visible to the younger generation by communicating them through the right online channels, not just internally, should be a focus.
Only 37% agree that a job in the built environment offers a total benefits package. This is a clear disconnect and we mustn't beat around the bush - instead make sure we clearly convey that the industry is a well paid and rewarding career!
Should we be more open about our industry pay as part of the story we tell?
Recruitment is only half the battle
Retaining a cohort of workers who are entrepreneurial and happy to switch employers, or even careers, more frequently than previous generations is another challenge altogether.
Today’s aging workforce means more people are retiring than entering the workforce, meaning the industry can ill afford to lose workers to other industries.
Our research shows that the majority of Gen Z respondents think they will stay in a role for just 18 months to three years (26%) or three to five years (24%); confirming that this age group is more likely to engage in job-hopping than previous workforces.
Ambition for career development appears a key driver: 66% of our respondents said they wanted to get to the top of their career, suggesting that rapid development opportunities are a strong pull factor for young professionals.
Gen Z-ers do appear to recognise construction as a good area for career development.
When asked for their opinion of the industry, agreement was highest on those attributes relating to skills and development, with the top three responses viewing the sector as somewhere they could learn work skills (54%) be mentored (50%) and develop transferrable skills (48%).
A higher focus on transferrable skills, such as tech and digital literacy, creates challenges for employee retention as it can be easier for workers to move between industries.
This is reflected in our research with the number of respondents who would consider working in the built environment highest among those who were also considering careers in other industrial sectors such as energy, transport, and manufacturing.
How can we create continuous development opportunities?
Previous analysis of Gen Z indicates that this is a generation hungry for diverse experiences and to understand as much as possible about the world they live and work in.
It is therefore not surprising that of the four retention concepts put forward to the external Gen Z panel, the most positive feedback pertained to the work rotation programme.
The initiative would give employees three months working for three separate companies within the built environment.
Our Gen Z working groups felt strong that the chance to experience work for main contractor, developer and consultant would give them a well-rounded understanding of different aspects of the built environment and learn more about the many varied career paths available
More than half (53%) of the survey respondents said the work rotation would make construction and property more appealing.
These results suggest that, if implemented, a work rotation scheme could encourage Gen Z to consider multiples different career paths within the built environment.
This could drive up retention by increasing awareness of different progression routes.
Another benefit to the work rotation concept is that it allows Gen Z to shape their career path around their own interests.
It allows for a degree of job sculpting; where 80 per cent of an employee’s time is spent on their core role, with the balance spent pursuing other areas of interest within the business.
This can foster innovation and creativity within both employees.
It’s clear that employers who take a more personalised approach to development seem more attractive to Gen Z.
This was also reflected in the feedback to another work concept; the My Path App.
The idea centres on an app, or digital platform, which employees can download to track the status of their development targets by introducing elements such as colleague feedback; training modules; and a salary gauge.
Amongst the respondents who would consider the built environment, the idea increased appeal by 52%, indicating that Gen Z would like the ability to track their development and receive timely feedback.
One concerning finding in the data was the belief that built environment was not a good industry for developing digital skills.
Fewer than a third saw this is a benefit of working in the built environment. Given their label as digital natives, and construction’s increasing reliance on technological innovation, this is a worrying misconception which needs to be addressed.
As previous sections of this report have discussed, the industry still also fails to appeal to women and girls.
One way to address this is to communicate the flexible working patterns and initiatives which exist within the industry. These were introduced to welcome older workers back after caring for children or relatives; an undertaking which still predominantly falls to women.
Flexible or agile working was highlighted as a key factor when considering a career by more than one in three (38%) of respondents, which may better allow workers to balance family commitments with a career.
When drilling into the breakdown between sexes, it is clear that women place a much greater priority on flexible and agile working.
Five key takeaways
In short, what can we learn from this
Gen Z still want to be paid well and have a good career. We shouldn’t forget the salary is a motivator here, and although Gen Z generally are socially responsible, they feel like they’ll have to work harder than previous generations and want to be remunerated fairly for it.
It still remains vitally important to Gen Z to work for a company with a clear purpose, a set of positive values that can help them make a difference – they want to make positive change towards the climate crisis and they’re willing to make lifestyle choices to achieve this!
We all knew it, but the data has shone a very bright light on our industry’s ‘brand’ problem. “Male dominated, manual labour, cold, dirty and dangerous. And also, not well paid!” A huge percentage of Gen Z won’t even click on construction. We need to stop regurgitating this, and start doing something to shift perception, because we know it’s actually a really positive place to be.
Positive and authentic influence at the earliest age, makes a huge difference on perception and consideration of the industry.
Gen Z are the digital natives, so it should come as no surprise that they do career research online, through Instagram and even one third through TikTok – we need to catch up. And fast.
Taking this forward
Re-imagining the choice architecture
Empowering our Gen Z-ers to critique and re-design the way
we approach recruitment and development has been an incredibly insightful experience.
Many of their suggestions are truly innovative; others simply common sense, yet no less valuable. The learnings from the initiative are already shaping our thinking as a business.
The job rotation concept is both brilliant and obvious. Talented young workers early in their careers will derive real value from experiencing the perspective of working for main contractor, developer, and consultant.
It will turbocharge their understanding of working in the built environment, while increasing the likelihood that they’ll be empathetic and collaborative when working in an industry which can be highly pressured.
The findings from the research are similarly insightful – if largely for the wrong reasons.
They must shape our collective thinking as a sector. It would be easy to be despondent, but there are some quick and simple wins here.
The research suggests a clear disconnect between Gen Z’s primary desire to be well and fairly paid, and their misconception that construction cannot offer them that, despite evidence to the contrary. We can be bold and frank to correct that.
The more overtly negative perceptions have taken many of us by surprise.
Day-to-day, we witness our teams leading or participating in noteworthy initiatives to effect change; from Returnship programmes to encourage women to re-join the industry following time out to care for family; through virtual work experience during the last 12 months to teach schoolchildren about new green jobs within the industry; to following through on commitments to transparent, ambitious net zero pledges.
Great work is undoubtedly being done. But this research suggests we need much more of it.
Increased cross-industry collaboration and a smarter approach to the channels and content we use will convey to Gen Z both the progressive evolution construction is embracing, and the breadth of diverse rewarding career paths the industry can offer.
Central & West MD
Morgan Sindall Construction
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the Gen Z Business Attraction Forum and have been blown away by the insight and creativity that the team have put into the proposals.
We now have clearly defined initiatives that we can move forward with within our respective businesses.
What the initiative has reinforced with me personally is that boards cannot make assumptions about the mindset and priorities of our future generations.
If we do that, we do it at our absolute peril and run the risk that we won’t be able to attract and retain the best future talent within the industry.
In February, Gleeds Gen Z representatives presented their ideas to our Global Executive Management board and are now working with our People Team, Head of ESG and Digital Director to implement a number of these.
The initial focus will be on the Gleeds Collaboration App aimed to gather views and opinions from around the globe on innovative ideas, ways of working and much more.
In order to attract Gen Z talent we will be working on the development of a digital application process whereby we would see the application process potentially moving toward having a video from the line manager detailing the job requirements to replace the old, sometimes long-winded job description and the applicant sending in a video rather than submitting a written application form.
For retention, we will be working on enhancing the functionality of our current appraisals platform to use it as a tool to help drive career development and progression within Gleeds.
And finally, sustainable welcome packs. Part of joining a new company is sometimes hard and a welcome pack helps build a sense of belonging early on in the onboarding process. We are looking at some innovative ideas to replace the old traditional style of mug and mouse mat with some ESG friendly ideas.
This initiative will have a real, long-term impact on our business and I look forward to seeing the proposals become commonplace within our business, together with future proposals that the team recommend.
As an industry we need to be ready in order to attract and retain the brightest of the generation and that requires a completely updated mindset.
Chief Client Officer, Gleeds
Our involvement with the Gen Z project to date has been really interesting and rewarding.
We didn’t want to be too prescriptive and it was a case of seeing what the participants came up with.
I had some misconceptions about the typical representative of Gen Z. I thought their comfort zone was to hide behind technology but that’s not the way Gen Z operate.
While they may be smarter than my generation in terms of instantly seeing how different technologies can help them at work, they do recognise the importance of sitting down and having a cup of coffee with someone.
The work on turning proposals from the project into reality is already happening.
Some ideas from the workshops really jumped out at me – particularly the suggestion of creating an app, which would co-ordinate an individual’s journey through their career.
It could result in managers being able to monitor training and progress against objectives with their staff. Evolution of employee-employer relationships can only be a good thing.
Another interesting suggestion was connected to incentives. Members of staff could earn credits and then, subject to line manager approval, take a Friday afternoon off. Or earn a month’s worth of vouchers for Costa.
From an employer’s point of view, this could be straightforward to initiate and I see it as a win-win for all.
Expanding this project to canvass opinion from much a wider sample of Gen Z has been enlightening and troubling in equal measure. The findings indicate that some of these innovative ideas have real merit. But they also highlight the work which lies ahead to broaden the appeal of the built environment. Those of us who aren’t in Gen Z must move outside our comfort zones and take steps to ensure the recruitment and development of future generations.
Managing Director, HBD