HomeThe GenZ LabWhy you should break workplace nepotism

Why you should break workplace nepotism

  • Monday, September 25, 2023
  • JobTeaser

Recent research sheds light on the impact of nepotism, particularly on Gen Z workers. Should we break the cycle?

Nepotism in the workplace has long been a contentious issue, and its effects on the younger generation, particularly Gen Z workers, cannot be ignored. In recent research, startling statistics have emerged, revealing that a significant percentage of Gen Z workers in London and the UK have secured job opportunities through nepotism. This trend also called the “nepo workers” raises concerns about the fairness and meritocracy within organizations, as young professionals are seemingly benefiting from familial connections rather than their skills and qualifications. The prevalence of nepotism among Gen Z workers underscores the need for organizations to reassess their hiring practices and prioritize talent and merit over personal networks. 

According to a recent survey conducted by ethical hiring experts Applied, the role of "nepotism" in the hiring process and its impact on the workforce has been examined. The findings reveal that younger workers and men are most likely to benefit from personal connections in their job search:

  • Over 2 in 5 British workers (42%) have secured a job or job offer through a personal connection, highlighting the prevalence of nepotism in hiring practices.
  • Men have a 33% higher likelihood of benefiting from "nepotism" compared to women, with nearly half of the men surveyed (48%) reporting job opportunities obtained through personal connections, compared to just over a third (36%) of women.
  • Younger workers, particularly Gen Z workers (aged 18-24) and Millennials (aged 25-34), are significantly more likely to have leveraged personal connections in their careers, with 68% and 60% respectively reporting job opportunities obtained through personal connections, compared to only a quarter of those aged over 55.

Personal connections are playing a significant role in helping young, inexperienced workers establish themselves in the job market and progress in their careers. However, this trend creates a disadvantage for those who lack strong personal networks and reinforces gender inequality in the workplace as more than one third of management roles are filled through personal connections and especially men benefit from this. 

“Most GenZ workers feel highly conflicted about it.”

Despite being most likely to leverage personal connections, GenZ professionals also expressed the highest level of moral conflict. 60% of individuals aged 18-24 disagreed with using personal connections to land jobs, considering it unfair and against their principles.

Nevertheless, the study revealed that 75% of Gen Z respondents who disagreed with nepotism on principle would still take advantage of it to advance their careers, while 25% maintained their moral stance and refrained from doing so. 

Harnessing the Gen Z Trend

As employers, can we harness this emerging trend to foster a fair and inclusive environment? One that values skills and qualifications over personal connections alone?

According to the study, 75% of Gen Z respondents who disagreed with nepotism on principle still admitted to taking advantage of it to advance their careers, while 25% remained committed to their moral stance and refrained from doing so. In contrast, among those aged over 55 who deemed nepotism unfair, only 33% were willing to leverage personal connections for professional gain, with 66% steadfastly upholding their principles.

This raises the question of why Gen Z workers are willing to compromise their values and find themselves in a moral conflict. It could be that traditional recruitment practices may inadvertently overlook the potential of Gen Z talent by placing excessive emphasis on educational qualifications and experience blocking their access to work opportunities and thus pushing them to nepotism. 

Among Gen Z workers who acknowledged securing a job or job offer through personal connections, an intriguing finding emerged. 

“Approximately 24% of these individuals were previously unemployed”

Delving deeper into the data, it becomes evident that leveraging personal connections often led Gen Z workers to entry-level or junior positions, with nearly half (49%) falling into this category. This suggests that personal networks can be instrumental in providing opportunities for early-career professionals to kick-start their professional journey.

Moreover, 27% of Gen Z respondents who benefited from personal connections found themselves in "middle-management" roles, reflecting the potential for accelerated growth and advancement. Additionally, an impressive 14% secured positions in "senior management," demonstrating the significant impact that personal connections can have on shaping career trajectories.

These findings shed light on the valuable role that personal connections can play in unlocking opportunities for Gen Z workers. By leveraging their networks, young professionals have been able to : 

  • navigate the job market
  • transition from unemployment
  • access various levels of responsibility within organizations

“We should reflect on recruitment practices and consider new approaches that prioritize skills and qualifications.” 

We should seize this opportunity to reassess our recruitment and promotion strategies, placing greater emphasis on competencies, potential, and performance rather than solely relying on personal connections. By doing so, we can create a workplace that values and rewards individuals based on their abilities, ensuring a level playing field for all employees. There are many possible strategies that can help you create a more inclusive workplace that favors meritocracy and skills instead of personal connections. Here are some ideas: 

Blind hiring involves removing identifying information such as names, gender, age, and personal connections from resumes and application materials. By adopting this approach, you can focus solely on evaluating candidates based on their merits, abilities, and relevant experiences. You can create a level playing field that allows Gen Z workers, as well as individuals from diverse backgrounds, to showcase their skills and qualifications without the influence of personal connections. 

Inclusive internship and mentorship programs provide valuable professional development opportunities and support for young talent. 

  • Inclusive internship programs should focus on offering internships to a diverse range of candidates, regardless of personal connections or background.
  • Mentorship programs play a vital role in supporting Gen Z individuals by providing guidance, networking opportunities, and career advice. These programs should be designed to ensure equal access and opportunities for mentorship, allowing young talent to develop their skills and expand their professional networks.

Leveraging Technology and Assessments

Embracing technology and integrating it into the hiring process can play a significant role in overcoming biases and promoting a fair hiring process for Gen Z individuals and thus reducing workplace nepotism. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) can be utilized to enhance the screening and selection process. AI-powered algorithms can analyze applicant data and identify relevant skills, qualifications, and experiences without the influence of human biases. This helps to ensure that candidates are evaluated based on meritocracy rather than subjective judgments.

Moreover, online job platforms such as the JobTeaser platform and digital assessments provide equal access to job opportunities for all candidates, regardless of their personal connections or background. These platforms allow for a wider reach and ensure that talented Gen Z individuals have a fair chance to showcase their skills and capabilities.

“Use Gamified recruitment methods to identify talent beyond traditional measures.”

Gamified recruitment methods have emerged as effective tools to identify talent beyond traditional measures. By incorporating game-like elements into the hiring process, you can assess candidates' skills, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking in a more engaging and holistic way.

Gamified recruitment platforms utilize interactive challenges, simulations, and virtual scenarios to evaluate candidates' competencies and potential. These immersive experiences allow Gen Z individuals to showcase their abilities in a dynamic and interactive environment, going beyond the limitations of traditional resumes and interviews.

Through gamification, you can assess a candidate's adaptability, creativity, teamwork, and decision-making skills. This approach provides a more comprehensive understanding of an individual's potential, regardless of their educational background or prior work experience.

Furthermore, gamified recruitment methods create a level playing field by focusing on skills and performance rather than personal connections or pedigree. This opens doors for talented Gen Z individuals who may have unique skill sets or non-traditional paths.

Should you invest in breaking workplace nepotism? 

Based on the research, addressing nepotism in the workplace is crucial for both organizations and Gen Z talent. By tackling this issue, you can create a fair and level playing field that rewards skills, qualifications, and meritocracy, fostering an inclusive and diverse work environment. This, in turn, can lead to improved employee morale, increased productivity, and enhanced innovation.

For Gen Z talent, addressing nepotism ensures equal opportunities and a merit-based system where they can showcase their skills and potential. It allows them to compete on a level playing field and be recognized for their abilities, rather than being overshadowed by personal connections or privileged backgrounds.

Moreover, addressing nepotism aligns with the values and expectations of Gen Z individuals, who prioritize fairness, social justice, and transparency. By taking a stand against nepotism, you can attract and retain top Gen Z talent who are seeking workplaces that align with their values and provide equal opportunities for growth and advancement.

Ultimately, it is a win-win situation that benefits both organizations and the Gen Z workforce.