Attracting Gen Z to the workforce

Just as employers and recruiters wrap their heads around the best way to attract millennials into the workforce, another generation - Gen Z - is starting to enter the picture. Here is some advice on what to remember when it’s time to attract these ‘digital natives’ into your company.

Generation Z - that’s those born in the mid-1990s until about 2010 - arrived well into an age of easy access to the internet, computers and, by the time they were at primary school, a cellphone in most people’s hand.

They were raised in a time when online social networking was less learned and more instinctive. For them, information of all kinds is instant and plentiful, answers and solutions a few taps of a screen away, and moving between the online and offline world comes naturally.

All of this is what recruiters and employers need to keep in mind when looking to attract employees from this generation, and then to retain them. So, what are some of Gen Z’s key features?

Gen Z is entrepreneurial

Having grown up surrounded by a range of online platforms where every day new individuals are offering products, services and information from the comfort of their Instagram accounts, Gen Zs have unsurprisingly emerged as very entrepreneurial beings. How does this entrepreneurial spirit translate in the workplace?

Being constantly surrounded by lots of information all the time, and having easy access to learn what they want when they want, means Gen Z is also more likely to want to be in control. Employers can make this work for them by:

  • providing Gen Z with the responsibility and leadership development opportunities they crave.

Be careful not to limit or define Gen Z employees in their roles, and instead:

  • allow them to put their social media savvy skills, as an example, to use for the good of their own future, and the company they work for - and to own that work.

Gen Z is competitive

Gen Z is a generation that aims to be independent and autonomous, and to get there they are self-driven, aided by all that the internet offers them.

So, what does retaining a highly competitive Gen Z employee look like?

  • Remember that job hopping is something that Gen Z takes as a given if they want to climb the career ladder. If your company doesn’t offer them a way up that ladder, then they will quite naturally go and look for opportunities next door.

  • Show them a plan of where they could be in five years.

  • Place focus on career advancement opportunities.

  • Ensure your company aligns with Gen Z’s values. That includes workplace culture and other benefits that are not directly money related.

Gen Z is financially focused

While Gen Z entered the world at the same time as online technology really took off, they also experienced first-hand the global crisis, and the impact this may have had on their families. The result of this early life experience is that many Gen Z employees are concerned about their financial security, both in terms of salary and benefits like health insurance.

For companies, this means:

  • putting in adequate resources and pathways to show Gen Z you value them enough to pay them - and keep paying them - now and in the future.

Entrepreneurship is a very realistic pathway for this generation, as they strive to control and maintain their own financial independence. To keep this generation within your company:

  • provide your Gen Zs with the security of seeing a solid future for themselves with you.

Gen Z wants leadership development

Gen Z’s desire for leadership development, including regular feedback from employers, is the number one value they want from their workplace.

This is a generation that knows what they can get, and how they can get it. Simply expecting them to be one of the crowd on the office floor won’t cut it anymore. For recruiters, this means:

  • putting time and resources into their entry-level employees to ensure they are retained and developed.

Gen Z can more easily digest online knowledge and training than previous generations. Foster this capability by:

  • providing online courses, professional opportunities and training to ensure Gen Z have the capability to develop their career paths within the company.

Gen Z expects technology

They also expect the flexibility that technology offers them, and the company they work for.

  • Given that they were born after the rise of the internet, and during the rise of Wi-fi internet, Gen Zs expect nothing less than cloud-based technology anywhere, anytime, in their workplace.

  • There are many technological applications that some companies (from past generations) may not have switched onto yet, but which a Gen Z would struggle to operate without. Is your company still using a paper diary? You may be met with a blank stare from your new Gen Z employee who has already scheduled their lives on the cloud.

  • Rather than kicking back against progress, companies should use the opportunity in front of them by letting Gen Z inform them on the way forward.

  • Think quality, not quantity. Don’t expect a Gen Z to arrive in the office at 9am, alternate work, a tea break and a bit of idle gossip at the printer for 8 hours, then leave it all behind at 5pm. Instead, if your company allows for flexibility that allows Gen Z to do bursts of hard, meaningful work at the hours that suits, then try to make this happen.

Gen Z consumes information differently

Given that this generation grew up with technology not even heard of by most baby boomers, and a large swathe of millennials, it stands to reason that they consume information, of any type, in a vastly different way.

With that in mind, and the fact that this is a generation of multi-talkers supreme, recruiters should accommodate Gen Z’s way of working right from the job application ad. How?

  • Keep the ad short and sweet. Too much text is not something this fast-moving generation will entertain.

  • Create a simple online application process, including a fast upload function.

  • Consider including a video function in the application video. Gen Z grew up with, and loves, video.

  • Convey the information the Gen Z applicants need to know, such as what the workplace is like and boring things like policies, in short snippets across a selection of mediums to keep them engaged. Include, of course, a short video as well.