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The world of work through the eyes of Generation Z

29 September 2016

Self-employed entrepreneurship, the explosion in the startup ecosystem, and new working methods for employees: accelerated by a process of digital transformational change, the world of work is changing very quickly. Young people must succeed in finding their place in this changing world, and increasing numbers of them are making clear their desire for flexibility and real meaning in the work they do.
The latest TEDxParis event quite rightly provided a platform for these young people, who are now flexing their entrepreneurial muscles and changing the world of work in their own way.
For the fourth consecutive year, BNP Paribas Cardif was the official partner of TEDxParis, where it was able to observe these changes at first hand.

A generation on the move

Many terms - some of them less than clear - have been coined to define this group of young people, from Millennials to Digital Natives and Generation Y or Z. Despite their inevitable diversity, it is possible to identify key trends when describing this generation of 2 billion individuals born worldwide since the beginning of the 1990s.

 

Passionate, creative, hyperconnected, collective and entrepreneurial are just some of the adjectives used to describe these young people overflowing with new ideas at this year's youth-focused TEDxParis forum, officially partnered by BNP Paribas Cardif. The identikit profile of this young population is positive and ambitious about its future. They may have been born into an economic, social and political crisis, but they nurture the desire for a society refocused on people, as Thierry Keller, Editor of Usbek & Rica, the magazine that explores the future, stresses in an interview with Génération Care: "For [young people], the crisis is a reality, and they understand it. They understand that it won't be easy, but they want the future."

So what kind of professional life lies ahead for these young workers?

A fast-changing world of work

Flexibility and change are two perceptions that now influence our concept of work, and will continue to do so for the long term. If we look at France, 29% of French people “are ready to change career or working methods over the next five years”, according to a recent Hello Innov’ survey of French attitudes to innovation. The days of long linear careers seem to be over, making way for more convoluted career paths made up of re-skilling, lifelong learning and job changes

At a time when careers are changing dramatically, young graduates and those already in the workplace are questioning the accepted wisdoms of the traditional world of work.

As this year's TEDxParis progressed, three trends emerged to define the grammar of this new language of work:

➔ The need for work to become more agile and flexible

In responding positively to the flexibility sought by young people in the workplace today, that workplace must reinvent itself, not only by embracing technology-driven innovations, but also in the way it manages relationships. Faced with these needs, traditional companies are changing their business models. Offices and fixed working hours are making way for teleworking and group lounges on every floor of the building.

➔ Work in which people can see a meaning, and which gives them the opportunity to fully realize their potential

The numbers confirm the trend: 76% want to turn their hobby into a full-time job, and 32% want to be in their dream job within the next 10 years*.

Personal fulfillment is becoming a key goal, driven by a desire to achieve the right work/life balance. In this respect, interpersonal relations and line management structures are also changing, with young people wanting to be in a position to learn, but at the same time to interact with their elders on an equal footing.

➔ A work profile that includes an entrepreneurial aspect

47% of young people want to set up their own business**. Being self-employed entrepreneurs able to decide their own working hours and tasks, or being an employee with the ability to define those tasks they feel best suited for... young people aspire to leaving behind rigidly defined jobs and building their own personal jobs on a day by day basis.

These visible initial changes prefigure more far-reaching changes in the world of work, and that is why BNP Paribas Cardif is designing new projects that resonate with this workplace revolution.

Working together today to outline tomorrow's world of work

Conscious of the challenges that lie ahead to evolve and adapt the company to this changing world, BNP Paribas Cardif is working on projects built around this shifting concept of work and the accompanying redefinition of relationships between staff members. Here are just two examples:

- The BNP Paribas Cardif Booster Bootcamp internal project accelerator is designed to allow members of staff to design their own solutions for improving their working resources and environment. This intrapreneurship program is currently being rolled out on the basis that it will gradually be available to all BNP Paribas Cardif teams worldwide, and help them to develop practical projects they can implement themselves in their own markets

- The reverse mentoring sessions in which senior members of staff are paired with their junior colleagues to exchange experience and learn from each other. The principle is simple: senior staff members keen to pass on their experience are paired with juniors who return the favor by introducing their older colleagues to new concepts and new technologies.

These collaborative experiences are really beneficial, because it allows direct intergenerational interaction with no barrier of age or seniority. It gives each side of the pairing the opportunity to be both teacher and student, and to benefit from the experience of the other

So what is the underlying ambition shared by these projects? "Demonstrating by example that there are other ways of doing things when you encourage agility, collaborative working and the contributions made by individuals to projects," summarizes Héloïse Lauret, Head of Innovation and CSR at BNP Paribas Cardif.

The bottom line is that the expectations of young people about the world of work are changing, but those of their elders are also changing as a result: the generations are learning from each other, becoming more open-minded and working alongside each other to deliver the BNP Paribas Cardif plan for the future.

Sources:
* Fortune survey: How will Generation Z disrupt the workplace?, 22/05/2015
**BNP Paribas and The Boson Project: La Grande InvaZion, January 2015