Technology has many benefits but it is having a negative impact on Gen Z’s development of interpersonal relations skills needed in the work place.
McDonald’s released the findings of its Workforce Preparedness Study that delves into Americans’ opinion of skills development and workforce preparedness. Soft skills such as teamwork, customer service and responsibility, were found to be overwhelmingly important. McDonald’s commissioned Morning Consult to conduct a survey in May across the nation targeting 6,247 people in the general U.S. population. This included 966 from the youngest workforce generation Gen Z (individuals 16-24) and 762 McDonald’s alumni.
“As the workforce gets older, our nation is facing a seismic shift in the workplace – one that will require all business owners to take a fresh look at employee training and development,” said Melissa Kersey, McDonald’s USA chief people officer. “As employers, we should re-examine which skills matter most, especially for the next generation entering the workforce. We should lay that foundation for employees to build the soft skills they need that will serve them throughout their career.”
Key findings include:
- Soft skills, such as teamwork, customer service and responsibility are seen as more important than hard skills, such as computer programming or accounting, for positioning young employees for success at the beginning of a career
- In terms of cultivating soft skills, workplace experience and in particular first jobs are seen as being especially important more so than developing them at school or home
- 88 percent of respondents considered the opportunity to develop soft skills “important,” including 60 percent who consider the opportunity to be “very important”
- Former McDonald’s restaurant employees (48%) have higher confidence in their soft skills compared to the average respondent (40%)
- As generations age, they believe it is more difficult for businesses to find qualified young people to meet the needs of the job
- Gen Z (18-24 years) – 46%
- Millennials (25-37 years) – 54%
- Other ages (38+ years) – 65%
Gen Z, America’s largest generation and the first born as digital natives, recognize their shortcomings of their skills. 37% percent of Gen Zs have gone as far as admitting that technology has weakened their ability to maintain strong interpersonal relationships and develop people skills, according to insights in Gen Z @ Work, a book on how the next generation is transforming the workplace. But most importantly, Gen Zs acknowledge they need help getting these skills as they find themselves struggling to get into the workforce.
Help Wanted: Digital Natives with Soft Skills
“If we don’t address the current gap in soft skills, particularly for Gen Zs, it will have a detrimental impact on the future of work in our nation,” said Kersey. “As employers, we play the leading role in helping teach those skills … This will have a long-term effect they can carry into their future careers.”
“This research validates the critical role employers and the right first job can play in training and preparing young people for their future,” said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president, Center for Education and Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “McDonald’s and its franchisees understand that upskilling entry-level employees will not only support their own business needs but it also helps provide the youngest generation opportunity for long-term career success.”
As part of their effort to build a better McDonald’s, the company and its independent franchisees are committed to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees, develop transferable skills for life and provide access to education and advancement opportunities. Recently, McDonald’s announced a $150 million dollar investment in the Archways to Opportunity education program, which nearly triples the amount of money restaurant employees can receive to further their development and education, and reduced the minimum time worked in order to be eligible for the benefit.
As a next step, McDonald’s USA will look at new and expanded strategic partnerships with organizations to develop new tools for restaurant employees that focus on developing skills and link to education and career advancement opportunities