New research from Belgium-based HR and payroll service provider SD Worx, reveals that over half of the Gen Z workforce (54%) crave better digitalisation across HR processes and solutions in the workplace. The findings set out new and emerging workplace expectations from the digital native Gen Z workforce. The results also broadly mirror a trend for strong digital services and customer experiences which gained widespread adoption as a result of the pandemic.    

The research spells out existing Gen Z dissatisfaction with current technology and processes, highlighting a sharp focus on digital solutions that bring improvements like speed and convenience to the employee experience – such as streamlined digital holiday bookings or absent requests, for example. However, it seems businesses haven’t been blindsided by the calls to action, with data showing that over half of European companies have already stepped up their digitalisation efforts, especially when it comes to vital HR processes.

Based on a survey of over 4,000 companies in the UK and across Europe, more than half of European businesses (53%) have begun to increase their efforts to boost the digitalisation of HR processes within their company, with the UK and Belgium (each 59%) leading the charge more proactively than other European countries.

Transformation but not at the expense of personalisation

However, while the findings may encourage employers to pick up the transformation baton, Gen Z respondents warn that improvements to digital processes mustn’t come at the expense of a personalised approach to HR. The findings show the importance of striking the right balance between offering digital improvements while retaining core personalised approaches that make employees feel valued.

Across all respondent demographics, a personalised approach is particularly favoured across onboarding (76.2% compared to 10.6% who prefer a digital approach), collaboration with colleagues (74.5% V 10.8%) and departure interviews (72.4% V 11.3%).

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It’s clear that Gen Z workers are increasingly looking for the same streamlined technologic benefits they enjoy in their personal lives to be a key part of their professional ones. Overall, 23.1% of Gen Z employees said that they are more likely to be won over by a company’s digital approach during the recruitment process, a figure which points to rising value of digital approaches in the workplace war for talent. Other core areas where Gen Z expressed strong demand for digital solutions include monitoring health and well-being (21%), communication on salary (23%), interaction with the HR department, (27%) and HR administration (32%).

SD Worx UK HR country lead, Colette Philp, comments: “With Gen Z emerging into the talent pool amid a war for talent, businesses find themselves in the tricky position of hitting all the right notes when it comes to salary, flexibility and appetite for technology, to name just a few core expectations. Job hunters are increasingly holding the cards in this market, meaning employers have to demonstrate unprecedented levels of agility to not only attract employees but to retain them. Employees are being very clear about what they want and with over 50% of European businesses making active efforts to transform the way they do HR; our research shows employers are listening.

“However, HR processes and personal approaches do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they can really complement each other when deployed effectively, helping reduce admin tasks and freeing up time for essential ‘human’ engagement. The key to success lies in understanding where employees most want the personal touch and delivering on it. It’s mission critical to get this right from day one to make the most out of transformation efforts. If your team don’t share your vision and you haven’t gone their buy-in, your investment efforts will be in vain. To be effective and truly worthwhile the dual approach is what ‘good’ looks like in this recruitment market.”