Webinar Keynotes: How Millennials and Generation Z are Changing the Workplace

Dr Boris Altemeyer, our Chief Scientific Officer explores this topic in our recent webinar.

Generation Z and Millennials have entered the workplace. It is believed by some that these generations have bad manners, contempt for authority and talk too much. However, generational clashes and misconceptions have been around since 400 B.C… 

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Socrates / Plato (disputed) 400 B.C (approx)  

This shows that generations have always clashed. This is especially true now with the rapid development of technology. Which means each new generation coming into work will see things differently based on the technology they used growing up. 

Perception vs. Reality – Why do we stereotype? 

We all look at the world in a different way. In psychology, we tend to say that the number of realities in a room is the number of people in the room plus one (which is what is actually happening).  

Our brain likes making shortcuts in order to make quick decisions. However, these shortcuts aren’t always accurate and can lead to some generalisations. Ageism is a problem that stems from biases. Being unconsciously biased is an inherent part of being human – even if we try to avoid it or correct ourselves. Below are the main bias ‘shortcuts’ that create stark differences in the perception of different groups and generations of people.

  • In-Group/Out-Group Bias – we prefer people from our own group.  
  • Confirmation Bias – we seek information that confirms our existing way of thinking and discard information that doesn’t.  
  • Recency Bias – we tend to use the latest encounter we’ve had with that group of people as an anchor point. 
  • Bandwagon Effect – the more people say it the more we agree with it.  
  • Blind-Spot Bias – this is believing that you are ultimately right because you see things the ‘right way’. 

If you would like to find out more about biases, read our blog on unconscious bias. 

The data 

At Cognisess we have been able to collect data that represents the values of each generation. 

The generations 

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964

Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1980

Millennials: Born between 1981 and 1996

Generation Z: Born between 1997 and 2012

Older Generations

  • Value working conditions more – they will join a company if it seems like a nice place to work and will feel proud to work there. As mobile working becomes more common, the office environment becomes less important to younger generations. 
  • Value relationships more
  • Are not so bothered about recognition – Generation Z has a 26% higher drive for recognition than Baby Boomers. If this generation isn’t recognised for their work they will find less fulfilment in a role and are more likely to leave. 

Younger Generations

  • (Slightly) less achievement-driven – there has been a slight decrease in this from Baby Boomers to Generation Z. 
  • Far less trusting – as trust is hard to come by for these generations this builds a completely different work environment. 
  • More tolerant
  • Just as resilient – they don’t want to be handled with kid gloves. Younger generations just have a different way of working and ultimately want to find meaning in what they do. 

What does this mean for businesses?

  • Personalities have not changed – individual differences exist exactly as before
  • Younger generations will be attracted more to jobs that offer personal development, support and clear and frequent recognition of work
  • Work is now flexible – mobile working is not a perk anymore, it is standard
  • Generations will differ on the value of relationships – breakdown or misconception of trust will be a major issue in the workplace

For more in depth results, watch the webinar here. As a company, we are interested in providing insights into the workforce. If you would like to undertake this in your company please contact us with the form below.

Will AI empower women & how?

We are all striving to become more inclusive because regardless of a person’s gender, ethnicity or background everyone has talent and potential. With more women working than ever before, gender equality is at the forefront of most HR professional’s minds. However, there is a lack of females in leadership positions, for instance, only 25 females are CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.

This imbalance can be observed across the workforce, with men and women respectfully dominating certain industries. For example, currently 80% of US software developers are men and 85% of social workers are women. But why is this the case? The effect of life domains on girls’ possible selves study suggests that culture, socialisation and gender role stereotyping discourages females from traditionally masculine subjects such as physics and mathematics. This may influence career choices later on, which further reinforces job role stereotypes. Therefore, these stereotypes based on gender can impact society heavily but the ever-growing change for equality will help open industries to all.

Will this ever change? 

We are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, and as a result, new technology such as AI and automation will transform industries and workforces. Employees will dedicate less time to routine tasks like data handling, focusing more on adding value to the company. More jobs will require a personal touch using interpersonal skills, creativity and problem-solving abilities which will favour humans over AI and other technologies. According to a study by PWC, women could initially be impacted by the development and implementation of AI and automation. However, in the long term, it is suggested that more males could be affected. This should inspire women to retrain or change career in order to stay ahead of the curve which may mean applying for roles they haven’t considered before.

Currently, there is a lack of females in STEM related fields.  Our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, comments that: “You can only hire in a balanced way for diversity if the talent is there and they have been educated in that field.” As this industry grows, there will be even more roles available in STEM industries. Initiatives have been created to encourage women to take STEM subjects. If this is successful, more females will be hired in typical male dominated roles. This will also mean a more diverse applicant pool. But how can HR managers ensure they are hiring the best candidates for a role, regardless of whether a position is traditionally held by a male or female?  

How can HR support this change? 

More and more businesses are introducing AI into their recruitment process. There are many benefits to adopting this technology, it saves you time, money and people power whilst allowing you to find candidates who fit into your company’s culture and team as well as the role you’re recruiting for. AI technologies can enable you to create a fairer and more diverse recruitment process. As humans are naturally prone to bias, it can sometimes influence decisions the workplace. It is common within the recruitment process as you are judging candidates on a range of skills and attributes to match the job role. However, factors such as gender and culture should not affect applying for a job (read our blog to find out more). AI removes the bias created by humans as it has the capacity to be completely objective.

“If AI doesn’t empower women, then we are doing it wrong”

Dr Boris Altemeyer

It is possible to create a recruitment process that is fair for all. But how do you define ‘fair’? Even if you programme AI software to identify the best candidates with a 50:50 gender split, it may still not be entirely fair. For instance, an applicant pool could have a larger amount of stronger female candidates. Therefore, not only would these qualified applicants miss out on this job opportunity, but the organisation wouldn’t necessarily be hiring the best candidates for the role. Dr Boris Altemeyer also reveals that “The AI needs to learn what is fair and balanced. We need to agree what we tell the AI to do in order to get the best possible outcome.” 

At Cognisess, we remove biases by making it optional for candidates to disclose age, gender, race or even the schools they attended. More significantly, this personal information is never considered in Cognisess’ set of assessments. Our system is mostly interested in assessing how your brain works. From this, recruiters can focus purely on what matters when hiring an applicant. This is called blind recruitment and it provides decision makers with an in-depth understanding of a candidate’s suitability for the role regardless of background, age, gender or ethnicity. This creates an environment for recruiters to make objective and well-informed decisions about a candidate’s potential.

Creating equal opportunities for all with AI

At Cognisess, we are constantly pursuing a fair recruitment process for all. We recently investigated if gender bias was present in one of our client’s hiring processes. Although more male applicants applied for their graduate scheme, more female candidates were successful. When candidates were asked to complete a variety of cognitive, emotional, personality Cognisess assessments, there was no bias present. The number of passed and rejected candidates reflected the difference in applicant volume of each gender. The final stage of the graduate process was a video interview. The gender was revealed in this section of the process due to the video aspect. However, in this part of the process female applicants were more likely to pass this stage than males. This could be an indication of higher presentation skills in female candidates, but it could also reflect a subtle bias in the human assessors marking the video interviews. 

This shows the effect humans could have on a recruitment process. It is important to note that bias can happen towards any group of people, including males. This is why it is important HR teams constantly refines this in order to truly hire the best applicants.  

Initially, women will be the most affected by the fourth industrial revolution. But this could be an opportunity for them to step outside stereotypical female roles and realise their potential. With a more diverse applicant pool organisations will need to ensure they have a recruitment process in place that is fair for all. If you would like to discuss how AI and People Analytics can enhance your recruitment process, book a free demo with our expert team.