Strategies for Business Sustainability in a Collaborative Economy: Building the Career Resilience of Generation Z

Strategies for Business Sustainability in a Collaborative Economy: Building the Career Resilience of Generation Z

Naomi Borg (RMIT University, Australia), Christina M. Scott-Young (RMIT University, Australia) and Nader Naderpajouh (RMIT University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4543-0.ch016
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Abstract

The increasingly complex and turbulent 21st century work environment poses challenges for businesses that can threaten their long-term sustainability. Given the rapid developments in technology, increasing rates of employee turnover, skills shortages, and changing expectations from Generation Z, the youngest generation now entering the workforce, organizations are recognizing the importance of developing a career resilient workforce. Individual employees' career resilience frames their capacity to respond when faced with career challenges, allowing them to continue functioning effectively, adapt in a flexible manner, and to successfully deliver work outcomes. To sustain a resilient workforce, managers must actively plan, develop, and deploy human resource management initiatives aimed at instilling career resilience in the youngest workplace entrants. By strategically designing generationally-appropriate management practices to maximize Generation Z talent, organizations can bolster their business sustainability to remain competitive in the changing economy.
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Introduction

Organizations in the 21st Century operate in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environment (Mack, Khare, Kramer & Burgatz, 2016) which presents challenges that threaten business survival. This fluid VUCA environment is characterized by shocks and stressors in the form of managing multiple generations in the workforce, increasing globalization and burgeoning digitalization (Lee, Huang & Ashford, 2018). In recent years organizational sustainability has been challenged by the loss of valuable company-specific knowledge and experience as the large Baby Boomer (born 1943-1960) component of the workforce retires. Ageing populations in developed nations like Japan, the U.S. and Australia (Sandhu, Sastrowardoyo, Benson & Scott-Young, 2016) also pose significant labor force stressors (McDonald & Kippen, 2001; Dixon, 2003; Burke & Ng, 2006). Organizations now face risks associated with the “major global skills shortages [which] exist in a wide range of industries and sectors” (Holbeche, 2015, p.43). Adding to this risk is the increased mobility and job-hopping of Generation Y employees (born 1980-1994) (Benson, Sandhu, Sastrowardoyo & Scott-Young, 2015). A world-wide survey conducted by KPMG (2014) ranked finding skilled employees one of the most pressing business challenges facing contemporary chief executives, second only to achieving profitable growth.

The recent entry into the workplace of the youngest generation, Generation Z, also known as the Internet Generation (Tapscott & Williams, 2010) or IGen (Twenge, 2017), constitutes another of the many shocks contemporary organizations are experiencing. The sociological concept of generations was developed by Karl Mannheim (1928) to categorize same-aged cohorts who share their birth and formative years in a particular time in history in a particular geographical, cultural and socio-economic location. The generation concept is used to classify different age cohorts into relatively homogeneous categories that display a common world view, value system and set of social behaviors that differentiate them from other age groups and that remain relatively stable throughout their lives (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Although age cut-offs vary between authors, Generation Z is generally considered to include those born in or after 1995 (Scholz & Rennig, 2019) and is the youngest generation following on from the highly-researched Generation Y (also known as Millennials), born between 1980 and 1994 (Howe & Strauss, 2000). As the newest entrant in the workplace, Generation Z has been less-well studied, but early research suggests that they are markedly different to Generation Y (Nielson, 2015). The differences are so stark that generational experts recommend that organizations give priority to adapting their human resource management practices to cater for this new generation’s special needs and preferences (Scholz et al., 2018), arguing that they have the potential to ruin businesses that fail to adopt new ways of working (Van Wyk, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Career Mentoring: The relationship between a mentor and protégée, where the mentor provides guidance and advice to assist the protégée in their career.

Employability: The capacity of an individual to consistently develop and enhance their skills to remain relevant and attractive to the job market.

Turnover: The rate at which employees leave an organization and must be replaced.

Career Stressors: The pressures and demands from the work environment, which are imposed on the individual and can lead to unfavorable psychological and/or physical outcomes in their career and/or personal life.

Resilience: The capacity to respond to, adapt and learn from stressors and changing conditions.

Career Shocks: Unexpected or expected events which challenge an individual’s capacity to conduct their work as planned.

Career Resilience: The capacity of an individual to adapt to career related challenges and move towards a positive career trajectory.

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