Next-Gen Talent in a Post-COVID World: Preparing for Future Leaders Now — Michael Eckert

Talking Trends
3 min readJul 19, 2022


Image from Unsplash by Beth Jnr

“People and organizations will come out of the COVID-19 crisis changed, if not
transformed. Next-gen talent — specifically younger Millennials and older Gen Zs who grew up digital and came of age during the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic respectively, have been shaped by this disruption in meaningful ways. C-suite executives investing in their talent pipeline and preparing to recruit and retain young, high-potential candidates would do well to consider the social and professional impact of the pandemic
on these future leaders.”

I recently read an article published by AESC, titled Next-Gen Talent in a Post COVID World: Preparing for Future Leaders Now. This article piqued my interest because working in executive search I have come to see that the youth’s willingness to drive change should never be underestimated. They are driven, possess a fresh and innovative perspective, and are not afraid to speak up.

Gen Z’s recalibration of values, priorities, and expectations as future leaders due to changes caused by the pandemic, economic and political uncertainty around the world, and a general unstable environment — is a force to be reckoned with. The commitment of this new generation to ESG, servant leadership, transparency, balance, and flexibility is inspiring, and often different from the approach the older generations may take.

The article highlights several interesting and fresh expectations held by new generations:

Mental Health
“Particularly for younger talent, well-being and mental health have come to the forefront — with urgency. This cohort experiences higher levels of anxiety and depression and will look to employers to provide robust services and de-stigmatize mental health issues.”

“The lockdowns proved that office workers can be trusted to do their jobs remotely, and younger talent prefer continued flexibility with their hours and location to create better balance in their lives.”

“Effective communication was essential during the pandemic, and remains a deciding factor in employee engagement levels, particularly communication that shows leaders are willing to be vulnerable, authentic and transparent. For people who have been immersed in the immediacy of digital communication and social media, frequent feedback is essential.”

“Next-gen talent’s desire for mentorship, training and a clear path to career advancement is not new, but may be intensified by the economic uncertainty they continue to face. They are increasingly likely to develop multiple streams of revenue.”

“Keeping up with the pace of change will require regular upskilling and reskilling, and digital natives are eager to learn. A recent LinkedIn survey shows that 83% of Gen-Zers want to learn skills to perform better in their current role.”

Aligned Values
The pandemic and social unrest of 2020 exposed inequities and vulnerabilities that the next-gen talent cannot unsee. An organization’s purpose, commitment to ESG principles including environmental sustainability, and track record on diversity, equity, and inclusion are likely to weigh heavily as next-gen talent evaluates current and future employers.

“Rising generations are increasingly committed to driving change. They expect both the private and public sectors to leverage their influence for good, and they will leverage their own influence — as consumers, voters, employees, entrepreneurs, and influencers — to create the world they want to live in.”

Read the original article here.



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