Why do companies refuse to bring in young professionals?

Generation Z. The generation that grew up with more technology and social media than Generations X and Y. Although they are usually depicted as more independent, flexible, and “we”-centric, Generation Z is also living in a time of great political, social, economic, and environmental upheaval. With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, many young professionals are now looking to expand their work experience and skills, but companies aren’t willing to give them the chance. Why? What is it about Gen-Z professionals that causes companies to refuse them?

In an article by Matt Wilson, the co-founder of Under30Experiences, titled “Disadvantages of Hiring Younger Employees,” he argues that “Many people mistakenly believe that it is preferable to hire younger workers over their more seasoned colleagues [but] they usually lack both the professional and life experience needed to make a positive change. Older workers have this experience and are often unappreciated assets for many businesses.” Because there are people like Mark Zuckerberg managing their businesses in their 20s, businesses may believe that young professionals nowadays have the same talent. According to Wilson, this is a mistake and those like Zuckerberg are simply exceptions to the rule.

There are several reasons I see that could cause many companies to refuse to bring in young professionals.

1). Experience

Most young professionals today, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t have as much business and management experience as those from Generations X and Y. Because of their small amount of business and management experience, this may cause young professionals to believe that how they view a certain project or how they are currently managing their business is the correct way, and they may butt heads with more experienced business professionals. 

Experience in the workforce is crucial. With COVID-19 forcing many businesses to shift towards a virtual platform (whether Zoom or Google Meet), experience in the workforce is becoming necessary in order to keep pace with the rapidly changing technological and economic landscape. Companies just aren’t willing to bring in young professionals who may shake up their business in a way the CEOs didn’t intend. But is that the right solution?

In a 2019 article titled “Make Way for Generation Z in the Workplace,” the author asks a similar question. “But if Generation Z is different, how much are employers actually willing to do to accommodate this new generation of workers as its numbers begin to grow as a percentage of the workforce? It may depend on the ebb and flow of the labor market.”

This makes sense. 

Many young professionals don’t have enough real-world business experience that may give companies the confidence to bring them into their workplace. Although accommodating Gen-Z’s young professionals could be a step in the right direction for some companies, that might not be the right move for others. They could see Gen-Z’s young professionals as a liability to their company, either due to their lack of experience or because they already have a workflow generated by the previous generations and don’t want to disrupt it. 

But what happens when the older generation workers either decide to leave or retire? Who will push the company into the future if there aren’t any young professionals to carry the work?

Young professionals ought to be hired by companies for what they can bring to it. While some young professionals may seem “unfocused,” the other 80-90% of young professionals may feel that ways for companies to continue to be productive in an ever-changing landscape is to hire young professionals. Those who have some experience but are willing to learn more in order to make sure the company thrives.

2). Focus and Drive

Although some of Generation Z’s young professionals have a drive and commitment to their career that would make many CEOs and HR professionals excited about seeing where they go in the future, other young professionals don’t. Whether that be because of young potential employees not having a clear understanding of what it is they want their business to be or they lack the drive or confidence necessary to see their business through. Additionally, due to the overconsumption of social media and technology, some businesses may believe that Generation Z is “lazy” and “unfocused.”

Even when some young professionals are introduced into the workplace, the idea of Generation Z being “unfocused” due to the connection they have with social media and technology can still be present. This may be another reason why some companies refuse to bring in young professionals. So you may be asking yourself: “So what?” What does this have to do with the future generation?

I argue everything.

Generation Z’s access to social media and technology gives them an ability to be “tuned-in” to the workings of companies and how they are managing their businesses. This “ability,” although seeming to make them unfocused, I argue, allows them to focus on companies that they may feel align with their particular skill sets.

Culture has given Generation Z a sense of freedom in finding themselves and their purpose. This “freedom” that Generation Z has may prove to be both a detriment and asset to the company. The “freedom” Gen Z possesses may make them feel that their passions and perhaps perspectives on how a certain product or action within a company isn’t heard and thus, they may choose to leave. 

For example, let’s say that a young potential employee sees how a company is trying to market to a more diverse audience and they aren’t sure the best way to do it. The young professional, being someone of a diverse background, could provide input as to some practices that they feel could be implemented to help market that specific product or idea but are ignored or their idea is sidelined in favor of a united idea that turns out to be the bad decision. This young professional could leave (if they have been there a few years) if an experience like the scenario I presented continues to happen.

“Gen Z is also most interested in working for a cause or company that they are passionate about, and may be willing to be paid less to do so. If they are genuinely interested in promoting what your company has to offer, you can bet that they will be hardworking, loyal, and a good investment,” wrote John Boitnott, a journalist and digital consultant for Inc5000, in his article “Generation Z and the Workplace: What You Need To Know.”


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