With confidence, a resilience born out of the pandemic, and a strong sense of what they want to do both professionally and personally, Gen Z applicants appear to have the upper hand in the job search process. Projected to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025, Gen Z prioritizes their job applications with companies that create a healthy and thriving work environment. This blog will dive deep into what’s most important to Gen Z and how they are holding their employers accountable to deliver on those needs.
Generation Z Defined
Generation Z comprises people born between 1997 and 2012 and accounts for 30 percent of the world’s population. As of 2022, Gen Z’s oldest members are turning 25 and have likely been in the job market for at least a few years now. Many others are at the tail end of their college careers, while still more are in high school and lower grades – which means the job market is soon to be flooded by this demographic, and the influx won’t slow for quite some time.
6 Things Gen Z Wants
Source: Handshake survey data found the top 6 things Gen Z wants from their next job. Hear more sentiments from the Class of 2023 in the latest Handshake Network Trends Report.
According to Valerie Workman, chief legal officer at Handshake, Gen Z graduating college seniors and those already in the workforce “want some semblance of normalcy: 85% of Gen Z job seekers say they’re prioritizing stability in their job search,” according to a new report from Handshake, a career site for college students and recent grads. Workman applauds Gen Z’s aptitude for transparency about what they want. “This generation cares about the work they do and wants to be at a place that appreciates their talent, and that they can stay with. They understand the business economics, the macroeconomics and how their salary plays into how they’ll be living. This generation of talent is making a difference because they are willing to talk openly about their needs,” Workman says. Gen Z “doesn’t want to be caught in a role where their needs are not met,” both professionally and financially.
How to Attract (and Retain) Gen Z Employees
Max Freedman, a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics, offers some additional key takeaways that apply to all businesses looking to refresh their recruiting and retention strategies:
- Keep work hours reasonable. Frequently asking this demographic to work more than their usual hours can sap their motivation and lead to workplace burnout.
- Avoid micromanagement and toxic work environments.
- Be flexible. Even if you can’t quite keep your team remote all the time, it’s important to give Gen Z the option. That flexibility can keep them engaged at work every day – even from a distance.
- Provide free food. Glassdoor’s data shows free workplace lunches where co-workers eat together can help keep Gen Z workers engaged with your company. If budgets are tight, snacks are an option, but full meals make the strongest impression.
See more from Freedman in this article.
Addressing the Disconnect Between Gen Z Workers and Their Bosses
Amelia Dunlop, chief experience officer for Deloitte Digital, and Michael Pankowski, an analyst also at Deloitte Digital, share research that found a number of areas where Gen Z workers and their bosses share priorities and a number of areas where they differ. Both groups, for example, place value on cultivating working relationships, flexibility in the workplace, and more. Despite these alignments, the survey data also reveals challenges between Gen Z and other generations. This insight provides a great opportunity for improvement and establishes the building blocks to develop fruitful relationships:
- Contrasting views on the importance of empathy – Gen Zers ranked empathy as the second most important trait in a boss, while bosses ranked it, on average, a distant fifth. \
- Disparate views on the impact of work on mental health –Less than half of Gen Zers say their boss helps them maintain a healthy workload, and 28% say they struggle with their mental health because of their boss.
- Disparate views on the importance of work to personal identity – The research found that 61% of Gen Zers already in the workforce feel that work is a significant part of their identity, while 86% of bosses say that work is a significant part of their identity.
Other areas that lack alignment include rewards and recognition, and training.
The Deloitte research also reveals that more than 7 in 10 bosses are excited about the ways the workplace will change as Gen Z makes up an increasingly greater portion of it. So, what can a leader do to bridge these gaps?
- Get curious. Explore a similar line of research with your workforce to understand what would elevate their experiences and build the trust of Gen Z specifically.
- Connect. Be intentional about creating opportunities for connection between members of Gen Z and other generations.
- Co-create. More than other generations, Gen Z wants to have their voices heard. They want agency to create a future that they find meaningful. Enlist their energy and problem-solving skills.
- Build a culture of reverse-mentoring. Many organizations typically have older employees who mentor Gen Zers. In the same way, leaders can promote a culture in which Gen Zers reverse-mentor their mentors, helping these more senior employees better understand Gen Z.
- Ask the influencers. Tap into influential members of Gen Z inside and outside their organization to help test ideas and shape the future culture of the workforce.
Maya Alexander, an intern working with CNBC’s Strategic Content and Councils teams, offers these key takeaways on how HR is thinking about attracting and retaining Gen Z talent and notes that their asks are pretty straightforward:
- The impact of Gen Z on the workforce may be greater than the pandemic and a potential recession.
- Top HR executives are taking notice and adapting their recruiting and employee management practices around how to get and keep these younger workers.
- Gen Z wants to work for employers that care about their mental well-being and offer opportunities to advance their careers.
“Top HR executives are taking notice and adapting their recruiting and employee management practices around not only the needs but desires of this younger class of workers. This is a clear generational divide,” said Don Robertson, executive vice president, and chief human resources officer at Northwestern Mutual. “This generation isn’t like previous generations, they know, they want to make an impact,” he said. “They want to connect with leaders, they want to be interacted with, they want it to be very personal and very intimate.”
Let us help you with your talent acquisition strategies to attract more Gen Z workers. Contact us today!
And, by the way, rumor has it that Gen Z doesn’t like to be called Gen Z. As members of the most racially and ethnically diverse cohort than any previous generation and who favor inclusivity, the notion of a “nickname” is nonsense. Just make sure your business prioritizes Gen Z values if you want them to stick around.