Chris Russell

3 min read


Attracting the Next Generation Workforce, Gen Z

Believe it or not, most millennials are now in their late 20s and 30s. While recruiting Millennials is still a priority in human resources, most are now past their entry-level roles. Today, a new generation, Generation Z, is beginning to enter the workforce. And employers should know what appeals to them in order to convince them to come work for you.

Generation Z is anyone born beginning in 1995. On the verge of entering the workforce, research says that Generation Z differs in surprising ways from their Millennial predecessors. It’s very important that company’s understand this group’s attitudes toward work and life when recruiting them. Not only do they make up the largest segment of the U.S. population (26 percent), but they are also the most diverse generation in U.S. history. Having been the first to grow up in a true digital world, they also have the shortest attention span.

According to recent research from Universum, which surveyed approximately 50,000 respondents born between 1996 and 2000 across 46 countries, many of this generation would consider joining the workforce directly out of high school. While only 15 percent said that they were likely to do so, 47 percent stated they would consider it while 60 percent said they would be open to employers offering education in their field in lieu of a college degree.

Top factors to consider for attracting Gen Z

Meaningful work. Because of the tight job market, Gen Z has more options than previous generations. They are looking to have a meaningful impact in the world and are more focused on opportunities for innovation and flexibility, rather than stability. They value transparency and seek out organizations that place a priority on making a positive impact on society. They also look for autonomy, leadership opportunities, dedication to a cause and the chance to be creative.

Your company should provide Gen Z the opportunity to use their personal drive, technology skills, brand awareness and desire for a purpose in a way that aligns with the mission of the company, profitability, and operations. You should also add more transparency to your hiring process.

Entrepreneurship. While college was almost a certainty for Gen X and Millennials, Gen Z grew up with parents still carrying student loan debt, during a national recession, and in an economic climate where entrepreneurship is often a necessity. Employers can benefit from Gen Z’s desire to take their success into their own hands by providing competitive work environments along with showing how each employee’s individual role contributes to the company’s overall success.

Creating a culture of learning and development is just as important for Gen Z as for Millennials. They are interested in hearing how a company plans to invest in furthering their skills and career, rather than what you can do for them today. It’s also not uncommon for many Gen Z’s to have a side gig.

Visuals and social appeal.  Gen Z is the first true generation of digital natives. It’s likely they had Instagram and Snapchat accounts as preteens, but they’re not big fans of Facebook, and are less likely than Millennials to respond to recruiter interaction on social channels.

They are also a highly visual generation that is accustomed to being marketed to. You might consider adding more visual alternatives to traditional job ads – YouTube videos, active Snapchat accounts, and Instagram stories that provide a look into what it’s like to work for your company while selling the specific position by showing its contribution to your industry. Many experts say Instagram is like their visual version of Glassdoor.

Cool technology. This generation also appreciates and expects to be working with good technology as part of the candidate and employee experience. From Textrecruit alternatives to onboarding, this audience wants that easy smartphone experience when it comes to their new role.

Gen Z in Service Industry Roles

Hospitality, restaurants and retail stores, are recruiting Gen Z more than others. These industries will need to adapt in order to engage a generation that checks their smartphones before getting out of bed. Retail and restaurant employers will need to consider using digital channels (think mobile apps) for communication, task and performance management.

Flexibility in scheduling is key in order to fill open positions and reduce turnover. Gen Z employees will quickly move on if there isn’t a digital solution in place.

Restaurant and retail managers can also reward employee efforts and successes with badges, points and direct feedback. These employee engagement programs will appeal to Gen Z’s expectation of individual support and recognition. Acknowledgement of a job well done provides valuable motivation for hourly employees and encourages future performance.

The message here is simple. Go digital with Gen Z. This workforce segment wants to be able to access information 24/7 and won’t wait for a phone call (Hint: start texting). Your brand and culture must be able to support this ‘plugged in’ mentality for recruiting them, or they’ll quickly move on to something else.

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