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The importance of Gen Z to the workplace cannot be overstated. By 2030 they expect to account for 30% of the US workforce and with the current tight hiring market, and headlines like “the big resignation”, C-suite executives should have a clear strategy to secure the next generation of talent. Gen Zers, those who were born between 1998 and 2016, grew up during the 2008 recession, watching their parents losing a job or a home or just being anxious that this might happen to them. That expereince combined with the more recent economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have shaped their view about money into one that is cautious, calculated, and long-term oriented.
Therefore, one would expect that when it comes to career choices, compensation will be a top consideration for this generation. The reality, however, is much different. For Gen Zers, work is not all about money. Instead, this generation is looking for an employee value proposition that is more rounded and complex, one that requires executives to rethink how they engage with entry level employees and revise their recruiting, training, and retention processes accordingly. Based on in-depth research of the career goals and work environment preferences, here are seven things to keep in mind if you want to attract, recruit, and retain the next generation of talent:
1. Employer brand is more important than ever
Having a great employee value proposition is just the beginning of building a strong employer brand. The rest is depending on your current employee’s experience, company culture, your ability to communicate both to the external world (what is your Glassdoor rating?), and your ability to provide a positive candidate experience to future talent. Gen Zers will not show up if they had negative candidate experience and they are very likely to share that experience with their friends (and beyond) on their social channel of choice.
2. Gen Z wants tech at every step
Being the true digital natives, Gen Z enters the workforce with a mindset shaped by years of using mobile devices, applications, and social media networks. That means that applying for a job should be as simple and quick as ordering a T-shirt online. Gen Zers want an easy, technology-driven, and fast application process. Features like interview-scheduling tools, video resumes, video interviews, and social recruitment (yes! meet them where they are), are just a few examples of how Gen Zers prefer to interact with their future employers. Once on board, Gen Z expect advanced tech to be part of their day-to-day life. Eighty percent of Gen Z aspire to work with cutting-edge technology
3. Personal connection is still important
Despite their dependency on technology in every aspect of life and work, Gen Zers still desire a personal connection. In fact, so much of it, you would say they are “high touch.” 45 percent of Gen Zers say they require detailed guidance from their managers. They
expect frequent feedback (as opposed to the traditional annual review), and 68% say that access to mentors is an important factor when choosing an employer. After a long period of isolation due to COVID-19, personal connection will be even more important as Gen Zers will be seeking to work for managers who show empathy and understanding.
4. Unleash Gen Z’s creativity and Entrepreneurship
Years of access to online information and tools have shaped Gen Z’s learning abilities, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit in an unprecedented way. They became accustomed to independently finding answers to their questions and teaching themselves new skills. They learned how to pack complex messages into 30 seconds TikTok videos and created successful side hustles. As they join the workforce, they like to put these skills into action, and employers will do well if they let Gen Zers unleash their creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Gen Zers can spot trends early, discover competitive activity that has gone undetected, or connect the dots that others have missed but most importantly contribute in unexpected ways to innovation and new ways of working.
5. “No ping pong tables please”
Gen Zers have clear expectations for their financial future. Being raised by the pragmatic Gen Xers, their starting point in life was already placing them on the path of being realistic and practical. Gen Z is very financially motivated. They rank tangible incentives—like competitive salaries, excellent insurance plans, and 401K contribution—above a fun work environment or unlimited PTO. In addition, 60% of Gen Z view tuition reimbursement as very desirable benefit. Companies like Bank of America, Starbucks, and Home Depot were among a list of companies that led the way in this area, a move that is expected to get stronger in the tight labor market post-COVID-19. And don’t forget; this is a generation that expect hyper-flexibility. Location and schedule flexibility are key to Gen Zers and after months of WFH, most companies should be able to respond to this need.
6. Ambition, ambition, ambition
Gen Zers are ambitious and competitive. They arrive with willingness to work hard but they expect to rise quickly in the workplace. Eighty three percent of Gen Z say that having opportunities for promotion and clear career path is an important consideration when choosing an employer and they know that to realize their ambition they need help. They have high expectations not only for on-the-job training and mentoring, but also expect companies to invest in their own personal development and personal growth in the form of company contributions to language classes, public speaking training, or other types of skill development programs.
7. Values is part of the value
Being committed to bringing about social change, Gen Zers expect their employers to demonstrate (through actions) that they care, too. They are looking for more than a few statements in an annual report or the occasional tweet. They want to see their employers walk the talk and make real impact in the world, and they seem to be united around environmental issues like climate change as well as social justice, equality, and diversity. One way companies can attract Gen Z is by offering them the opportunity to make a personal impact, 51 percent of Gen Z say volunteer programs are an important factor when choosing an employer.
As you can see there is no silver bullet when it comes to hiring Gen Zers. This complex generation requires various strategies and tactics but the promise that they bring to the workplace will make the investment worthwhile. After all, the future success of many organizations will depend on their ability to attract, recruit, train and retain this generation.