Author: Jonathan Worrell, Business Development Director.
“Trainees these days have such a different mindset to back in my day!” is something I often hear when talking to partners in law firms.
And it’s true: Gen Z (born 1997-2012) has a new set of skills, values and motivations that will shape the future of the legal profession.
So how do we get the best out of them? Here are some tips.
- Be authentic – disillusioned by traditional corporate branding and the need to “fit a mould” Gen Z seek individuality and freedom to express themselves. Point to examples of leaders being their authentic selves, break down barriers and encourage different perspectives and points of view. Show how you enable diversity, equity and inclusion rather than just talk about it. A better understanding of neurodiversity amongst this group also means that managers should be informed to respond to different learning styles, approaches, needs and treat people as individuals (and not one size fits all).
- Support mental health – Gen Z is much more informed and willing to talk about mental health which is a good thing! Equip your managers to have that conversation. To encourage ownership ask your Gen Z what they are doing to look after their own mental health (running on a Monday? Yoga in a Friday? Making time for friends/family at weekends) and how you might support. We all need to work together on this important subject.
- Talk about values and impact – research shows that this generation are motivated by ‘making a difference’, environmental/ social causes and the meaning behind their work. Highlight how their work has a positive and meaningful impact where possible.
- Use tech to bring them together – sure you need them to be highly effective and engaging in-person communicators and be able to pick up the phone and lead meetings. That’s important. But remember that Gen Z has been raised on the internet, apps, social media so make sure you also offer online communication tools and platforms (as well as in person activities) to build a sense of community internally and allow them to express themselves in a way that feels intuitive.
- Watch your language – previous generations of lawyers may have been raised on the occasional dressing down. However Gen Z, better informed on mental health and well-being, simply won’t respond well to this so keep feedback regular, constructive and output focused (even if you had to ‘deal with it’ back in your day!)
Attracting, retaining and developing Gen Z is one of the biggest challenges that employers face today. Get it right and you will shore up your future talent pipeline to support success. Get it wrong and the best talent will go elsewhere.
Finally remember the huge positives this new generation brings including their intuitive approach to technology, online connectivity, individuality of thought and a strong sense of contribution to social and environmental causes – all of which can be harnessed to drive future success.