I was delighted to learn this week that multi-award-winning speaker and trend forecaster Michael McQueen will travel to Tasmania to speak at an industry forum to assist farmers employing Generation Z workers.
The Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group has just won the $5000 Agri Development Scholarship, funded by Primary Employers Tasmania and the Tasmanian pork industry. TAPG will use the funds to enable farmers to gain an in-depth insight into the key social and behavioural characteristics of the emerging workforce.
Generation Z, born between the mid to late 1990s and the 2010s, are the first to have grown up with access to the internet and portable digital technology from a young age.
Compared with previous generations, commentators define Generation Z as better behaved, more risk adverse, more aware of mental health and likely to spend more time on electronic devices.
Gen Z'ers account for 35 per cent of the global population, are now leaving university or training, and are the future of Australia's agricultural workforce. That's why TAPG is looking for insights from Mr McQueen - so farmers are best able to understand and manage their workforce to minimise problems and maximise productivity.
He is expected to share strategies to recruit, train and retain this generation of employees, as well as a practical game plan for businesses to thrive in an age of disruption.
Mr McQueen has written nine books, including a digital book called The New Now, looking at the top 10 trends expected to dominate a post-COVID world and how leaders and organisations can gear up for them.
While reading about this opportunity for Tasmanian farmers, I took a moment to ponder how agricultural businesses and the companies providing services to the rural sector are preparing themselves to engage the next generation of employees. Do we understand their priorities and propensities? For example, Generation Z is less likely to drink alcohol than previous generations.
So, suggesting catching up with a woolgrower over a parmie and a beer may not appeal to a new employee. However, an in-office meeting to walk through a new digital platform may tick boxes. This impacts how we word job advertisements, how we describe our businesses on websites, the work tasks set, and the platforms used for reporting.
Increasingly we are seeing farm businesses embrace apps that enable hours to be recorded, safety risks identified and acknowledged, priority tasks assigned to workers and photographs of completed jobs to be uploaded. For those farmers not embracing this technology, are they less likely to attract young, savvy and innovative workers?
Many take the time to analyse consumer trends to ensure their produce is hitting target markets. But how many allocate hours to studying demographics to optimally engage with the next generation of agricultural workers and leaders?
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