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Graduate development: The Gen Z echo chamber

Your grads are living in digital echo chambers: so how do you get them out?

Generation Z are entering the workforce, and unlike generations that came before, it is proving a hard task to assign them boxes or stereotypes. The reason for this? Gen Z inhabit a different world, one of hyper-individualism. They live in their own echo chambers – and this presents a brand new problem for organisations when it comes to graduate development.

Personalised and targeted content means that for each Gen Zer, your organisation is essentially in competition with the digital world that they have co-created with the internet. We might call this generation ‘eco-warriors’, ‘the woke brigade’, or ‘influencer obsessed’, but the truth is they aren’t so easy to pin down. While popular culture used to be something shared by large communities and generations, it now largely means something different to each individual, based on algorithms and preferences.

So, what happens when every member of a generation is living in a world of their own making, one that outsiders do not have access to? What does this mean for organisations who deal with grads and young talent?

Firstly, it means that you have probably noticed a shift. According to generational historian Dr Eliza Filby, the common narrative is that Gen Zers lack respect, appear unmotivated and self-absorbed, do not understand commercial reality, or want to engage with client growth. If this is your experience, you are not alone. Many organisations are at a loss with how to deal with this intake. However, Bright Network have stressed the importance that companies ‘do not to fall back on Gen Z stereotypes’ as this may lead to missing out on the ‘skills, ideas and new perspectives today’s young people have to offer the workplace’.

As experts on behavioural change, we know that transformation cannot happen in isolation. Organisations might start to adjust their approach to graduate training, but will not experience the full effect of this until the labels surrounding Gen Z as lazy, unrealistic and self-absorbed, change. If a culture absorbs this story internally, it will only serve to push Gen Zers further into their echo chambers, making them harder and harder to reach.

We know that this narrative needs to shift in order for organisations to unlock the true potential of this fascinating generation – and they are genuinely fascinating. Gen Zers recognise the importance of lifelong learning and constant upskilling. With an ever-changing world and rapid technological advancements, Generation Z has developed exceptional flexibility, which makes them adaptable to changing job requirements and positions them as eager candidates for professional development initiatives and upskilling programs. They also tend to have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and possess the desire to create their own opportunities, exemplified in the recent rise of ‘side hustle’ culture. This brings with it a willingness to gain skills and disrupt traditional models – and in order to gain the most from them, organisations need to be prepared to do the same.

At Ivy House, we see that creating a wider ecosystem that provides the right kind of support for this intake is crucial. Feeding into their hunger for meaningful skill development will also make a fundamental difference to whether this generation stay or go. And, if you would like to discover more about how to get the most out of your Gen Zers, take a look at our white paper which dives deeper into the needs of today’s graduate development.





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