Insights for Organisations

Are learning opportunities the key to Gen Z talent retention?

Graduate Recruitment Team

Gen Z are taking over the workforce, bringing with them new working styles and workplace aspirations. Understanding and meeting the preferences of the next generation has become a crucial priority for businesses who want to adapt to the evolving landscape and retain the top talent.

Known for their strong emphasis on continuous learning and career advancement, Gen Z prioritises employers who offer robust learning opportunities as part of their job offers. With a keen desire for both personal and professional development, Gen Z values clear career progression pathways and opportunities for upskilling. As the next generation of talent, Gen Z’s expectations for learning experiences are shaping the future of workplace education.

But what exactly do effective learning opportunities look like for Gen Z? Let’s delve deeper into the key factors and strategies that businesses should consider to engage and empower Gen Z employees in their learning journey and professional careers.

What’s in this article?

Executive summary

Gen Z prioritises continuous learning, in-person shadowing, personalised experiences, and iterative progression management. To retain this talent, organisations must accommodate these preferences, offering in-person office availability, structured training programmes, personalised management styles, mentorship/coaching opportunities, and clear career pathways. By aligning with these preferences, businesses can attract, engage, and retain Gen Z talent effectively, fostering a culture of continuous growth and advancement.

What does Gen Z value about continuous learning opportunities?

According to our clients, learning and development is something Gen Z truly cares about, with an average score of 4.89 out of 5 when asked how important they believe it is. Although only slightly higher than non-Gen Z workers (4.53), this statistic highlights the importance of developing learning and development initiatives within your organisation to appeal to Gen Z talent. But what do Gen Z value most about continuous learning at work and what learning opportunities do they expect from employers?

Gen Z will quit their jobs in pursuit of skills-building opportunities

Our research shows that Gen Z are more likely to change jobs to develop their skills and progress in their career than non-Gen Z workers. Similarly, another study reveals that 74% of Millennials and Gen Z consider quitting their jobs due to a lack of skills-building opportunities.

Gen Z places a high value on self-improvement and personal growth, seeing training as a means to enhance their knowledge, capabilities, and marketability in a dynamic and competitive job market. They look for employers who show commitment to their long-term growth. As such, it is important to ensure ample training opportunities are available to your employees and that they are aware that these exist. If not, you risk losing capable employees with plenty of potential who seek new skills in other roles.

Gen Z value learning from colleagues in-person

Among the many reasons Gen Z employees enjoy working in an office environment, learning from colleagues is one of the most prominent. Our research reveals that the large majority of Gen Z employees (80%) either agree or strongly agree that having the ability to learn or shadow other colleagues makes them want to work in an office environment, rather than remotely. So, while Gen Z has grown up in a highly connected digital world, they still value face-to-face interactions and the opportunity to directly learn from peers and experienced professionals.

The preference for learning from colleagues in an office setting may also reflect Gen Z’s desire for hands-on experience and practical skill development, something many Gen Z individuals were deprived of during their education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. By observing and collaborating with colleagues, they can gain valuable insights, receive immediate feedback, and acquire new skills more effectively than through remote work arrangements.

While remote work provides flexibility and autonomy, it may lack the spontaneous interactions and informal learning opportunities that occur organically in an office setting. For Gen Z workers, the office serves not only as a place to perform tasks but also as a dynamic learning ecosystem where they can engage with diverse perspectives, exchange ideas, and cultivate meaningful relationships with colleagues.

Gen Z expect personalised learning experiences

Personalised learning tailors education to the individual’s needs, interests, and abilities. It utilises technology, data, and varied instructional strategies to provide customised learning experiences. But why does Gen Z prefer this style of learning in particular?

Gen Z grew up in an era of customisation and personalisation, where technology allows for tailored experiences in various aspects of life, from entertainment and shopping and everything in between – and training is no exception. Gen Z expect similar personalised experiences in their education and professional development, where learning is tailored to their specific interests and learning styles.

Gen Z are accustomed to digital learning

As digital natives, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age, surrounded by technology and digital tools from a young age. They are accustomed to accessing vast amounts of information instantly and customising their online experiences, which makes it imperative that businesses offer this type of training as part of their commitment to professional development for employees.

Likewise, Gen Z tends to be more independent and self-directed in their learning approach. They appreciate opportunities to take control of their learning journey, set their own goals, and pursue topics that interest them. Having digital learning platforms available to them, employees are able to explore areas of passion, deepen their understanding, and develop skills at their own pace and in their own time if they choose.

Gen Z want iterative progression management

Gen Z values feedback and opportunities for growth. Iterative progression management emphasises continuous feedback loops, regular check-ins, and ongoing performance evaluations, which can provide Gen Z workers with the guidance and support they need to develop their skills and achieve their career goals.

They value transparency and open communication in the workplace, which means they want their managers to talk about goals, progress, expectations, and required training. By doing so, managers can build trust and encourage their Gen Z employees to be the best version of themselves. This management style resonates with this generation and will make them more likely to stay with an employer as it shows they are invested in their development.

5 Ways to improve Gen Z retention through learning opportunities

If you’re looking to attract, engage, and retain top Gen Z talent, here is our advice to you…

  1. In-person office availability
  2. Structured training programmes
  3. Personalised management styles
  4. Mentorship and coaching
  5. Career pathways and progression opportunities

1. In-person office availability

While Gen Z may appreciate the flexibility and autonomy that remote working offers, many still value the option to have access to an office environment. For this generation, the office serves as more than just a place to complete tasks—it’s a dynamic hub for learning, collaboration, and social interaction. Gen Z employees enjoy the opportunity to engage face-to-face with colleagues, mentors, and supervisors, as it facilitates spontaneous knowledge sharing, mentorship opportunities, and professional development.

2. Structured training programmes

Gen Z appreciates employers who offer structured training programmes that cover both foundational skills and specialised knowledge relevant to their roles. These programmes may include workshops, seminars, online courses, and certification programmes tailored to individual career paths.

3. Personalised management styles

Businesses that prioritise long-term growth and invest in personalised management practices are better positioned to retain Gen Z employees. Regular performance reviews and constructive feedback demonstrate a commitment to employees’ development and success, aligning with Gen Z’s desire for continuous learning and advancement. However, the effectiveness of these practices relies on skilled managers who can provide personalised guidance and support tailored to each individual’s needs and aspirations.

Therefore, it is imperative for managers to undergo professional training to acquire the necessary skills for personalised management. This training should focus on communication, coaching, and mentorship techniques that foster trust, engagement, and motivation among Gen Z workers. By equipping managers with the tools and knowledge to effectively support their team members’ growth and development, businesses create an environment where Gen Z employees feel valued, empowered, and invested in the organisation’s long-term success.

4. Mentorship and coaching

Mentorships and coaching from experienced professionals within the organisation are invaluable to younger generations who are just starting out in their careers. They appreciate employers who pair them with mentors who can provide guidance, feedback, and support as they navigate their careers and strive to achieve their goals.

5. Career pathways and progression opportunities

Gen Z are motivated by the prospect of continuous growth and progression within their careers, and they prioritise employers who can offer them a roadmap for achieving their professional goals. This generation values transparency and wants assurance that their hard work and dedication will not go unnoticed. They seek employers who recognize their contributions and reward them with promotions, increased responsibilities, and leadership roles over time. Clear career pathways provide Gen Z with a sense of direction and purpose, motivating them to excel in their roles and invest in their long-term development.

Not to mention, organisations that prioritise career advancement for Gen Z employees benefit from increased engagement, productivity, and retention rates, as these individuals are driven to achieve their full potential and make meaningful contributions to their teams and the broader organisation.

Discovering the untapped potential of Gen Z with FDM

Gen Z talent is poised to propel any organisation that is willing to invest in their ongoing professional skills and career development. As such, is it imperative that businesses recalibrate their recruitment strategies to recognise and accommodate Gen Z. And at FDM, we’re ready to help organisations do just that!

Discover the untapped potential of Gen Z and build sustainable talent pipelines with this new generation of professionals.

Do you want to learn more about Gen Z talent? Get in touch to find out more about our consultant services!