Many in Canada’s oil and gas industry may be surprised by recent findings about the next generation to enter the workforce.
The children and teens who are currently on their way to becoming adults, those born between 1996 and 2012, known as “Generation Z,” are not, as may be feared, less driven, more complacent and more entitled.
Generational expert Giselle Kovary, president of n-gen People Performance, says that ironically, they’re more like the retiring Baby Boomer generation than than the Millennials who are closer to them in age.
“Generation Z members have seen the gig economy not work well for their parents,” Kovary said. n-gen conducted a national survey of Generation Z members in late 2017, and she said “the results were surprising because they’re bringing back more traditional values.”
For example, 85 per cent of those surveyed said they wanted to work for one employer for a long time, and 53 per cent said they wanted to be fiscally responsible and not take on too much debt.
The Millennials and Generation X have piled up their personal debt levels, with the amount Canadian households owe relative to their disposable income reaching 169.7 per cent last year.
Generation Z has seen the stress that can cause and its members want to avoid that in their lives, Kovary said.
However, 86 percent of those surveyed also said they wanted to “work in an industry they believe in.”
Kovary will discuss some of her research results as part of the upcoming Oil & Gas Beyond Boomers forum hosted by the Canadian Energy Executive Association at the Calgary Petroleum Club on Feb. 6.
Kovary, who consults often for oil and gas related companies, said every industry must be aware of the cross-generational challenges in the workplace.
“There’s not one-size-fits-all,” she said. “Everyone works with a multi-generational workforce. How do you [companies] manage that?”
For the most part, Kovary has found that Generation Zers aren’t interested in running startup small businesses. They want security and stability.
“If they get a good job, they’ll tend to feel lucky they have one,” she said. “They’ll be willing to ‘suck it up,’ but they do want meaningful work.”
For the oil and gas industry, that means creating a welcoming, multi-generational workplace while contributing positively to the economy, society and the environment. If companies can do that, she says they’ll have a loyal Gen Z workforce.