Hearing from recent graduates about what the next generation is looking for in their career is always eye-opening. Whereas older generations were encouraged by their parents to find an organization that they would want to spend 15-20 years at, those in their twenties are more interested in getting more varied experience. Switching jobs after only a few years is normal for this younger generation, making it even harder for companies to attract and retain them.
Developing young talent is going to be key for the success of every business in the future. Many people say that companies don’t understand Gen Z, and it’s true that Gen Z has different goals for their careers and lives than former generations. As enterprises look to attract this talent, we need to adapt in order to inspire the next generation to join our company. Gen Z is interested in gaining new skills and making a difference, and while there are numerous areas of the business that can meet these needs, there’s one area in particular that is going to enable the intersection of these interests: technology.
Digitization can Inspire and Retain Talent
In the healthcare industry, there has been much conversation around how to adopt innovation like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to push the boundaries of drug discoveries and provide breakthrough solutions to patients. There is a great deal of buzz about the disruptive impact these technologies can have. As numerous studies attest, members of Gen-Z are the most digital savvy employees, and this cohort expects for the companies they work for to embrace technology. In one study, 91% of Gen-Zers said that the technology an employer provides is a factor in choosing between job offers, with 80% saying they would like to work with cutting-edge technology. While Gen-Zers are looking for technology and innovation, they are also increasingly prioritizing jobs with stability. Interest from the Class of 2023 in Big Tech jobs is down 15% compared to the Class of 2022 due to the recent layoffs in that sector. If companies outside of tech can prioritize their digital strategy now, they have a much higher probability of employing the top tech-savvy, younger talent.
Upskilling, Small Group Training and Mentorship
Adopting new technology will attract younger talent, but given the fast pace of change, training and upskilling around tech and AI also needs to be a priority. While Gen Z may be more accustomed to new technology and social media platforms, this doesn’t always equate to confidence using these tools in the corporate setting. One-fifth of 18-29-year-olds actually feel judged when they experience technical issues, unlike their 40-and-up-year-old counterparts, of which only one in twenty-five report feeling similar judgement. Training to help employees upskill is critical to implement as soon as possible as studies are finding that millennials and even Gen-Zers are planning to quit their jobs in 2023 due to a lack of skill-building opportunities. In fact, 78% of millennials and Gen-Zers fear they lack the skills to advance their career and 70% feel unprepared for the future of work. Companies need to meet employees where they are at and develop in-person and remote, more intimate training options which help increase accessibility for employees, as well as mentorship programs so employees always feel they have a trusted person to reach out to with questions.
Collaborating to Create Impact
Data is incredibly powerful when used correctly, and it has the ability to enable the impact that Gen-Z is looking to make in their careers – especially in healthcare, whether it’s AI’s ability to speed up drug discovery, implementing AI-enabled technologies that augment drug development and diagnosis, or using data to ensure that supply chains deliver patients’ medicines on time. AI and ML models require massive amounts of unbiased, diverse, and easily accessible data to be effective, and generative AI technologies such as Large Language Models will help interrogate larger and larger databases. As Sal Kahn from Kahn academy says in his TED Talk, reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF) is essential for developing those AI technologies. Very soon, it is RLMF that will become the primary learning support for students. This is the first time a non-human agent will trigger engagement and self-directed learning for students, whatever they are studying. The way of learning is changing at pace and getting insights from data changing every minute.
But with the high volume and private nature of healthcare data and the competitive and research silos that exist everywhere, in order to efficiently utilize this data, we need improved data management that empowers collaboration. Federated learning programs breaks those silos and allow for data to be shared across enterprises so that AI and ML technology can be trained on decentralized data sets. By doing this, data privacy is maintained while increased amounts of data inform technology to provide better outcomes for patients. With federated learning programs, we open the door to utilizing the approximately 97% of hospital and research data that is currently going under-utilized – including clinical notes, lab tests, medical images, sensor readings and genomics. When we give Gen Z tools like this that allow them to fully interact with the innovation ecosystem, we offer them endless opportunities to make an impact.
Digitalization is happening whether companies choose to embrace it or not. While there are challenges to fully adopt a data-centric mindset, companies will be experiencing even more difficulties if they don’t get ahead of the digital transformation. Take for example how far behind the healthcare industry fell in the race to digitize – only recently have we started moving away from using paper records. In the next decade, members of Generation Alpha, born 2010-2025, will begin to enter the workforce, and again, companies will have to learn this generation’s workplace priorities and adapt. Given Gen Alpha was born in the same year or after the iPad was developed, it’s almost guaranteed that they will care that the company they work for is optimizing its business with innovation and technology. Prioritizing the integration of technology today is only going to benefit companies and enable their employees to drive breakthrough moments.