As Millennials, or Generation Y, grow into the founders, directors and managers of today’s workplace, focus is now shifting towards the new cohort coming through Gen Z. Born between 1995 and the early 2000s, Gen Z are either just entering employment, or starting to think about what they want from their careers. They are the future leaders for growing businesses and the race is on to attract and retain them.
How is Generation Z different?
Like generations before them, Gen Z bring their own unique perspective on the world, and this feeds into the demands and expectations they have for their career and the workplace. Despite huge changes over the past year, Gen Z expectations have not changed dramatically because they were already much further along the digital revolution than other generations. However, Gen Z are suffering from the lack of human interaction at work – perhaps much more so than their elders – and the work environment that we are going to build must be more flexible and blended to respond to their expectations.
Key characteristics of Gen Z include:
Virtual yet social
Gen Z have been surrounded by digital technology from a young age, and now even more so as a result of the pandemic, so they expect to be constantly connected and demand seamless digital experiences. Although this doesn’t mean they don’t value human contact.
A Mazars study found that Gen Z rate ‘human atmosphere’ as equal to salary in what attracts them to a potential employer. They also look to work with so-called ‘facilitator managers’, who help create a social working environment, by encouraging informal, friendly and trusting relationships with teams.
Freedom and flexibility
Gen Z have grown up during a period of increasing freedom and flexibility in the workplace, including the rise of freelancing, home working, work-life balance and flexible hours.
These benefits are no longer seen as a ‘nice to have’ and for Gen Z they are non-negotiable. This generation wants both flexibility in how they work as well as pursuing a ‘portfolio career’, where they can take part in several professional activities simultaneously.
Gen Z frequently see traditional organisations as old-fashioned and rigid, filled with hierarchical structures and top-down management – leading many to seek out an alternative path.
The same research undertaken by Mazars found that 25% of this age-group aspire to be their own boss and 11% want to work in a start-up, where there is a less formal and more agile way of working. In contrast, just 4% are hoping to work for more traditional medium-sized companies or large corporate organisations, highlighting the challenge facing larger employers in attracting and retaining the young talent they need.
How to attract and retain Generation Z
There are several steps employers can take to attract and retain Gen Z employees:
- Understand them: HR teams must adopt a marketing mindset in how they approach recruitment. A successful attraction strategy starts with developing a personal understanding of your target audience, how they behave, and how best to reach and communicate with them.
- A digital recruitment process: A digital-first recruitment process is fundamental for attracting Gen Z, as well as including an attractive and intuitive user experience which can include chatbots, voicebots, online videos, and regularly updated social media profiles.
- Build authenticity and trust: With sites like Glassdoor giving Gen Z a platform to share their experiences – good and bad – it’s vital that the reality matches the marketing. Ensure communication stays true to your real values and culture by finding out what your current employees love about working for you and incorporate this into your recruitment campaigns.
- Bring your culture to life: To add a personal touch, involve your current employees in the recruitment process, whether in-person, or via your digital channels. Also, give candidates the opportunity to personally meet the manager they may be working with early on, rather than leaving this to the final interview stage, so they can get a genuine feel for the team dynamics.
- Candidate care: In the age of social media sharing, a positive candidate experience is vital for all applicants – even those who aren’t successful – so treat them like you would clients, by providing prompt communication and feedback.
- Responsibility: Gen Z candidates who do join your organisation want to be given responsibility as soon as possible, both for making their own decisions and developing ideas. Managers therefore need to do as much as possible to involve them in discussions and decisions through tools, workshops and informal meetings.
Attracting and retaining Gen Z not only requires a change in how businesses approach recruitment, but also a deeper cultural shift in how employees are managed and engaged on a daily basis. It demands effort and investment from everyone in the company, but for those who get it right, Gen Z will bring new ideas, creativity and an entrepreneurial flair that will propel your business to new heights.
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