Gen Z is the next major wave of people to join the workforce. Born in the mid-tolate 1990s, today they are just getting started in their careers – but by 2020, they will represent 25% of the working population.1 What do Gen Z workers want from their future employers, and how can recruiters attract the best Gen Z talent?
What are the characteristics of Gen Z?
1. They have a strong affinity with technology
Gen Z are often referred to as “digital natives.” They are the first generation to have grown up taking the internet for granted. They are heavy users of social media, with 42% admitting that it influences their self-image.2 They are comfortable using the internet to research new topics and to expand their knowledge.
2. They prefer face-to-face communication in some settings
They may have come of age in a digital world, but Gen Z don’t want to depend entirely on technology. For example, over two-thirds (69%) prefer traditional face-to-face training rather than online courses.3 More than half (51%) favour in-person conversations with their managers instead of exchanging emails or instant messages.4
3. They want to do work that aligns with their beliefs
People of this generation are often interested in social justice, inclusivity, and ecological concerns. They value the opportunity to uphold and promote their beliefs in their working lives.5
4. They like to work in quiet, private settings
Contrary to stereotypes, most members of Gen Z don’t want to work in noisy, open-plan offices. Over one third (38%) want to work from home, and 37% would like to work in a private office. Fewer than one in six (13.5%) said they would want to work in an open-plan environment.6
5. They value flexible working hours
Gen Z employees would rather have flexible working hours and a healthy work-life balance than a stressful but high-paying job.7
6. They want to work for engaged, honest managers
Gen Z want meaningful relationships with their managers and colleagues. They appreciate regular, honest, and constructive feedback on their efforts.8
How To Attract The Best Gen Z Employees
1. Streamline your recruitment process
Make it quick and easy to find and apply for vacancies. Ideally, candidates should be able to do it from their smartphone. Gen Z are used to doing everything online and they value time efficiency. They don’t want to wait more than a few days for a decision on their application.
2. Emphasise your mission and corporate responsibility
Does your company take pride in serving the community or safeguarding the environment? If so, make it clear on your careers website and in your job advertisements. Explain how – and why – you want to change the world. Always be honest, because Gen Z candidates will likely research your company on sites like Glassdoor to verify your claims, before deciding whether to apply.
3. Use visual content online when advertising positions
Use social media to enliven your brand and build a reputation as an exciting, socially-responsible employer. Because Gen Z value both social media and authentic personal connections, informal, face-to-face online communication can work well.9 For example, you could produce a video showing life behind the scenes at your company, or livestream a question-and-answer session with a current employee.
4. Emphasise benefits and perks in your job advertisements
Can you offer flexible working hours, a structured training program, a chance to move up through the ranks, or a quiet office with plenty of natural light? Even if some of these benefits seem relatively inconsequential to you, all of these make your company more attractive to Gen Z candidates.10
5. Use interview questions to make sure they understand the realities of the workplace
Some HR professionals advise asking Gen Z questions that will uncover their readiness to work on more mundane tasks, such as “How do you motivate yourself to complete work that doesn’t excite you?”
Gen Z candidates can be very independent and may crave novelty, which could be a problem if they aren’t keen to help with mundane day-to-day work.11 Some thrive on instant gratification, which isn’t always possible in many roles. Make sure you include interview questions that assess their emotional maturity.
Because they will have relatively little professional experience compared with older candidates, you should ask them about personal achievements and side projects. They might not have held a full-time job before, but they may well have picked up relevant skills elsewhere.
6. Retain employees with a Gen Z-friendly leadership style
Sixty percent of Gen Z workers want to catch up with their manager several times per week.12 If you don’t already give employees regular feedback, it’s time to start. Feedback should be brief, intentional, and given in person if possible. Give Gen Z employees a chance to put their ideas forward; they want to make a difference, both to society as a whole and to their place of work.
Are You Ready For Gen Z?
Gen Z employees are an increasingly important part of the workforce, and employers need to make sure they are well-prepared if they are to benefit from the next wave of talent. By learning what this group expects from their employers and using it to inform your recruitment practices, you can attract the next generation of leaders and visionaries.
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1. Personnel Today. (2019). Guide to recruiting Generation Z
2. Nadin, G. (2017). Generations in the workplace – Generation Z comes of age.
3. Bresman, H., & Rao, V.D. (2017). A Survey of 19 Countries Shows How Generations X, Y, and Z Are – and Aren’t – Different.
4. Schawbel, D. (2014). Gen Z Employees: The 5 Attributes You Need to Know.
5. Half, R. (2016). What Gen Z Wants from Employers (In Their Own Words).
6. Kerr. (2018). Gen Z: What do they want from their workplace?
7. Maurer, R. (2016). 4 Tips for Recruiting Generation Z.
8. Jenkins, R. (2019). This Is How Generation Z Employees Want Feedback.
9. Jenkins, R. (2019). This Is How Generation Z Employees Want Feedback.
10. Kerr. (2018). Gen Z: What do they want from their workplace?
11. Tolan, J. (n.d.). 16 Questions to Ask Gen Z During a Structured Interview.
12. Jenkins, R. (2019). This Is How Generation Z Employees Want Feedback.