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Gen Z know what they want at work. Do you?

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​When you hear the phrase ‘Gen Z’ or ‘Zoomers’, you probably think of high school aged kids, maybe university students at a push. In reality, however, many Gen Z have already graduated university and well and truly entered the workforce – and they are unlike any other generation before them.

Much like their Millennial predecessors, Gen Z are being touted as lazy, unmotivated, and unwilling to work, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Gen Z just know what they want, and in many cases, they are unwilling to settle for less.

Gen Z are the future of your business, whether you’d like to admit it or not, so what have you got to do to attract them? And, more importantly, keep them?


Values, Ethics, and a Hard Pass on Toxic Workplaces


We noticed pretty early on that Gen Z are much more led by their values and ethics than previous generations when it comes to jobhunting. If a business has a reputation as a ‘toxic employer’ or is known to conduct business in a way that they deem unethical, a Gen Z jobhunter is much less likely to even consider the role - let alone apply.

We hear people refer to this generation as ‘lazy’ or ‘entitled’, but we don’t think this is the case at all. Many ‘Zoomers’ came of working age in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic – entering the world of work is stressful and confusing at the best of times, more so when there are lockdowns, restrictions, and major job insecurity. They saw the way many businesses ruthlessly made sweeping layoffs at the start of the pandemic, and all the way through it, and the actions of these high-profile businesses during those layoffs highlighted to Gen Z – and many from older generations, too – just how disposable businesses see their employees.

If businesses can see employees as disposable, why can’t employees see the businesses as disposable? All of this has caused priorities to shift.

And even if you do manage to secure that Gen Z worker you’ve had your eye on, you now have the challenge of keeping them.

“Gen Z are a skeptical bunch, and they’re not afraid to look elsewhere, or even flat-out quit, if they are not happy in a role or at a company, instead of plodding along like previous generations,” our Senior Marketing Recruitment Consultant, Susannah, explains.


Work/life balance and Wellbeing

Gone are the days of sacrificing time with your family or your social life for your career – younger generations greatly value a work/life balance and won’t hesitate to leave a role that threatens this.

As a society, we all experienced a collective trauma in a way with the pandemic, causing many to re-evaluate their priorities and decided that maybe, just maybe, they don’t want to spend 10 hours a week on a train commuting to a noisy office. After two years of lockdowns, illness, and uncertainty, is it any wonder that the younger generation are unwilling to sacrifice their personal lives for a job?

Health and wellbeing initiatives are also a huge draw for younger jobseekers – as long as they are actually good. We all know how hard it is to get a GP appointment these days, so offering access to a telephone GP can be a huge attraction. Mental health support, help with dental costs, and other health and wellbeing benefits can really make you stand out.

“Candidates are asking about health and wellbeing benefits in the early conversations now, as those initiatives play a role in their decision to accept a job offer – or even continue with the application process.” Susannah says.

They are also much less likely to stand for certain behaviours in the workplace: racism, sexism, ableism, toxic bosses, or ‘crunch’ will result in disillusionment, disengagement and, likely, the worker deciding that the job just isn’t worth it.


Lack of Loyalty?

“Gen Z and Millennials are job-hoppers without any loyalty…” is something that we have seen across our LinkedIn feeds these past few years. But did you know that’s actually not true at all?

If treated well, Gen Z and Millennials are much, much more loyal than you think, often adopting an ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to their employment. If a business treats them well and makes them feel valued, as well as offering actual, sustainable career development opportunities, then it is likely that they will stay for many years to come, devoting their careers, experience, and knowledge to your business.

“Employees are basically incentivised to ‘jump ship’ every year and a half to optimise their wage increase – or get one at all,” says Marketing Recruitment Consultant, Henry. “To counter this, it’s fairly obvious that companies should instead incentivise staying with the business with regular, fair salary increases and development opportunities. Not only will it increase loyalty, but it will save businesses a fortune in future recruitment fees and issues stemming from short staffing.”

However, many businesses make workers think “Why should I be loyal?” .It has been painfully obvious to many for some time now that businesses have no loyalty to their employees; once ‘lifelong’ careers are now good for a few years, tops, until you hit a ceiling and are forced to move to develop yourself, or to score a wage increase that might just keep up with inflation… if you’re lucky. Businesses lay off scores of employees at the slightest whiff of an economic downturn - which does the opposite of inspiring loyalty.


So where DO Gen Z want to work, then?

On the flip side, there are businesses and industries that Gen Z are clamouring to work for - whether this is due to values and beliefs, such as renewable energies and other work that has a social impact, or just because the company has a great reputation for how they treat their employees.

We recently ran a campaign to recruit several marketing professionals for a forward-thinking, green energy business, and we received a much higher number of applications from Gen Z and Millennials than we would usually see for a comparable role.

"Making a difference, having an impact, and sustainability rank high on the list of what this generation are looking for in their future employers.” Henry has noticed.

It’s also a well-known but oft-disregarded fact that when you advertise a role with a salary range on it, it receives a greater quantity of applications, and those applications are often of better quality. Having the salary range listed openly on a job advertisement is often interpreted by jobseekers as a sign of a more open and honest company – something that Gen Z will be looking for in their future employer.

Businesses with great reputations for being socially responsible, having strong ethical values, and those that treat their employees well also see much more interest from Gen Z jobseekers.


How to attract Gen Z

“A lot of attracting younger generations is in storytelling,” Associate Director and HR Recruitment Consultant, Lindsey, advises. “What are your values? Why should they trust you with their career? What development can they expect, and how will they be rewarded?”

A list of requirements is not going to cut it for a job advert anymore. Jobseekers, especially younger ones, want to know the ‘what’s and ‘why’s. Why should they come work for you? What can they expect?

It’s also important to showcase your values and what sets you apart from your competitors. Many workers want to work at a business whose values align with their own, so these are a valuable talent attraction tool if harnessed well.

Offer flexibility. Hybrid, remote… the debate still rages on, but one thing is for sure: this is the generation that would rather quit and find a new job than return to an office 5 days a week. Offering some flexibility up-front – hybrid working, flexible start and finish times, etc. – makes your company an attractive prospect.


…And how to keep them!

Keep your promises. Don’t micro-manage. Be open and transparent about development.

Okay, there’s a little bit more to it than that, but when it comes down to it, if you nail the basics and keep listening to your people, the rest should come naturally.

“Stick by what you said to attract them in the first place,” advises Lindsey. “Stand by your promises, and if things have had to change, be honest and clear as to why.”

A solid and tangible development plan will work wonders for retention. One of the most common complaints we hear from all our candidates, not just younger ones, is that they feel the need to move on because they feel as though their career has stagnated where they currently are. Either promised development opportunities never came to fruition (👏Keep👏Your👏Promises!👏) or they have been strung along by flimsy, unsubstantial development plans.

“Be transparent about where you see them in 1, 2 or 5 years. What does their trajectory look like and what do they have to do to make it happen? What impact can they have on the business?” Lindsey says.

Oh, and remember to give them a pay rise!


Got more questions about Gen Z talent attraction... or any recruitment for that matter? Get in touch with one of our knowledgeable recruitment experts.

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Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash.