How to appeal to Gen Z

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Optimising recruitment processes and focusing on engagement could help attract – and retain – these digitally advanced, entrepreneurial employees.

Gen Z is the age demographic of people born between 1997 and 2012 which means they are currently in their late teens to mid-20s. It is estimated that Gen Z will make up around 27% of the workforce by 2025 – meaning that HR must ensure that it is doing everything it can to support and engage the employees who will be our future leaders. So what makes a workplace Gen Z-friendly?

Breaking down Gen Z

Despite being referred to as the ‘snowflake’ generation, Gen Z are, in fact, keen collaborators, fiercely focused on sustainability. They are the first to campaign for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in their workplaces and believe in transparency at every touchpoint of an organisation.
Generation Z is known for their entrepreneurial spirit. Not only do they value opportunities for creativity, innovation, and the ability to take ownership of their work, but they are attracted to employers that encourage intrapreneurship. This means allowing them to innovate, develop ideas and really make an impact in the workplace – to the benefit of everyone in the organisation – and, where possible, in the wider community. So which aspects of employment are given the highest value by these employees and what can people professionals do to ensure they create the right culture to attract Gen Z?

Money talks for Generation Rent

Gen Z and Millennials have been dubbed Generation Rent thanks to the challenges of getting onto the property ladder. House price rises and skyrocketing interest rates – coupled with the cost-of-living crisis in the UK have meant earning a good wage is critical if they ever stand a chance of becoming homeowners. Its little wonder why Gen Z are more likely than other generations to report that the pay they receive for their work does not afford them a good quality of life. According to a report from McKinsey & Company 77% of them are seeking a new job – almost double the number of respondents from different age demographics. In addition, these young people are also less likely than other generations to report feeling fairly recognised and rewarded for their work.

What can HR do?

Curating a benefits and reward package that speaks to the needs of this generation will go a long way in creating the right conditions for them to apply for – and stay – in a job. Offering a recognition scheme where employees can give and receive positive feedback and express gratitude for work well done or celebrate milestones, however small, is a great tool for engagement.

Mental health and wellbeing

Health benefits continue to be a draw for Gen Z in fact research shows that women’s health support like menstrual, fertility and family-focused benefits would attract them to an employer. This is also evident around increasing awareness of mental health as Gen Z are more likely to seek support and resources than any previous generation.

What can HR do?

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) can support mental health and wellbeing and having mental health first aiders in the organisation is a good way to demonstrate a commitment to wellbeing. Encouraging a culture of conversation where all topics can be raised and discussed confidentially provides a psychologically safe environment for Gen Z to broach sensitive subjects and feel they will be supported with any difficulties they might have.

Providing purpose and meaning

The idea of working for an organisation that doesn’t represent their values and purpose jars with Generation Z. Rather than simply working ‘for the man’ they want to contribute to a company that has a positive impact on society and demonstrates ethical practices. This will allow them to feel that they are making a difference and provide that sense of fulfilment that they crave in their professional lives.

What can HR do?

Putting the company’s purpose, social responsibility initiatives and sustainability efforts front and centre will show a commitment and highlights to the employee that these are important to the company. During any recruitment drive, it is worth making this information easily available and asking the candidate what they would like to see happen in the organisation. Giving them the opportunity to shape these values is also a good way to encourage engagement and a sense of belonging.

Flexibility and work/life balance

Certainly, since the pandemic shook up our core working practices and highlighted how practical remote and hybrid working can be, this generation sees this option for flexibility as a right, not a privilege. They will seek job opportunities that offer these elements and value the freedom to pursue personal interests, hobbies, and relationships while still excelling in their careers. When it comes to providing relevant perks, flexible working and time off tops the list in a recent study by YPulse’s What’s Next for Work Trends Report. Nearly half (45%) of 13-39-year-olds interviewed said that they want their employers to offer more holiday days to help combat burnout.

What can HR do?

Make flexible working a central part of the culture. Providing work-from-home options, or even going fully remote where possible is all attractive to digitally savvy Gen Z. They are used to collaborating with colleagues remotely and view this working practice as a good way to enhance their wellbeing and strike that work/life balance. Setting out defined parameters is critical such as establishing KPIs and expectations of the role they are undertaking. This clarity is important to Gen Z and having formal processes in place will help them flourish in their work.

Professional development and internal mobility

Continuous learning and growth are essential for Generation Z. HR can support this by providing opportunities for professional skills development and training and establishing a robust internal mobility scheme to map out what their future career might look like in the organisation.

What can HR do?

It might be that Gen Z employees would benefit from things like mentorship schemes and coaching as well as allowing them to shape and develop their ideas for projects that will facilitate new skills development.

Tech-savvy environment

Generation Z has grown up in a digital age and expects a workplace to leverage technology for productivity and communication. They have never known a working environment that doesn’t have Wi-Fi or connectivity. According to a report from Dell, 80% of Gen Z respondents said that they aspire to work with cutting-edge tech while 91% say technology would influence the roles they apply for.

What can HR do?

Providing consumer-grade technology to help them work efficiently is incredibly important to these employees. Not only will this facilitate collaboration but it will streamline existing processes and help the organisation run more smoothly.

DEI should be front and centre

DEI is a no brainer these days, and this younger generation puts social awareness high up their priority list. A recent study by Monster found that a company’s commitment to DEI is critical for 83% of respondents when job-seeking. What’s more, the data showed that more ethnically diverse teams are 33% more likely to outperform their peers.

What can HR do?

Creating robust DEI policies and routinely updating them is important to ensure that they are not exclusionary. Sensitivity training and running regular anonymous surveys are good methods of checking-in with employees and reaffirming that your culture is progressive and supportive of employees whatever their age, race, gender, religion, ethnicity or sexuality.

Generation Z appreciates transparency and authenticity from their employers. They expect open communication, honest feedback, and a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities. They want to work for companies that are transparent about their values, goals, and decision-making processes. If organisations are to attract this generation, making the culture a rich, fair, innovative, and progressive place to work is imperative.