Business leaders are warning the next generation of employees can drive change, but won't hesitate to leave a business that doesn't help them achieve their goals.

The latest PWC Herald Talk, "Millennials move up, Gen Z move in", was held in Wellington this morning.

While Millennials are often seen as the new, entitled kids on the block, Generation Z, born mid-1990s to the early 2000s, is now hitting the workforce.

Motion Sickness founder and creative director Sam Stuchbury said their business had to adapt to the entrepreneurial nature of Gen Z, both as employees and customers.

Advertisement

"There was a big study done by IBM which showed 72 per cent of school students wanted to run their own business in the future.

"It's a huge factor when we're employing people. They're extremely entrepreneurial, they want to know about the business and how we run the business, rather than just their own role."

When it came to Gen Z as consumers, Stuchbury said they were skeptical, and prized authenticity.

He warned that business could walk into traps if they didn't keep that in mind, as Pepsi did with its cancelled campaign with Kendall Jenner.

It aired shortly after a fatal police shooting, and was criticised for being tone deaf.

"It's funny how bad it is," Stuchbury said.

"You can imagine them in the boardroom making decisions, saying 'yep we've got a great influencer, we're attaching some world issues to the piece, we've got racially diverse casting, got a peppy soundtrack'.

"But the one thing that they missed is that it lacks any authenticity. The ad had to be pulled after being ripped out online.

"I think it was just an ad of cliches, and they tried to assume what Millennials and Gen Z would like."

Fonterra Ventures general manager Komal Mistry was named New Zealand's Young Executive of the Year in the 2017 Deloitte Top 200 Awards.

She said there was a need to adapt to the next generation of workers, in order to get the most out of them.

But it didn't necessarily have to cost money.

"You've got to have the ability to unlearn, and rethink traditional paradigms in terms of the way we work," Mistry said.

"So a classic example is the 40-hour work week, five days of eight hour days.

"It's rethinking that to go, well actually what outputs do I want? How do I make sure people can work in a way that works for them?

"Someone who's motivated might get more work done in an hour, than an unmotivated person does in two days."

Vodafone head of xone and innovation Lauren Merritt said, even as a millennial, she'd had to adapt her own strategies for managing the next generation.

Generation Z had a global outlook, and were digital experts in a way that made millennials look out of date.

Merritt said that meant understanding new modes of productivity, and the smartphones would always be on the meeting table.

She had found a focus on work projects instead of roles, and being clear about how that connected to the employee's purpose in coming to work, helped keep Gen Z staff motivated.

"As a manager you have to take a hard look at yourself, and how you contribute to your staff.

"Because they really do show up as their whole selves. There's not just projects to manage, I end up managing their personal lives, their relationships and their work relationships.

"The whole person comes to work, and with that comes a big responsibility to enable and support them.

"Which is interesting because they're not necessarily loyal to you, they're loyal to their purpose.

"You're putting a huge amount of investment into making them grow, and then I'm constantly waiting for them to leave."

The next PWC Herald Talk will look at the experience economy, and how modern customers expect fast, convenient, and personalised brand experiences.

More details can be found at www.pwcheraldtalks.co.nz