Written by Kate Scott | 20th March 2023
The Gen Z demographic, which includes those born between 1997 and 2012, are set to make up one billion of the global workforce by 2030, and as a result, businesses need to adapt to the expectations and preferences of this generation in order to attract and retain top talent.
Deloitte’s survey results say pay is the number one reason why Gen Z left their employers over the last two years. But when it comes to what makes them choose a new organisation to work for, Gen Z will prioritise organisations that place importance on wellbeing, flexibility, sustainability, a positive and inclusive company culture, and learning and development opportunities. It’s important to note, they are not afraid to jump to another company if their offering is better! Gen Z don’t stigmatise “job hopping” according to a survey by Oliver Wyman. They are happy to leave unfulfilling jobs without securing another role first, staying in a job for just over two years, on average.
To recruit and retain these employees, it’s important that your company understands their needs, and demonstrates a genuine care for these matters.
Consider Gen Z’s greater expectations
Gen Z are expecting more from their employer – bigger salaries, more time off, the flexibility to work remotely, a greater focus on wellbeing and feeling appreciated, and they’re willing to walk away from a company if their needs aren’t met.
As an employer, you should think about your current retention and recruitment strategies and how they stack up against the wants and needs of this generation. For example, could you be more flexible, such as setting core working hours and allowing people to flex their start and finish times around this? Whatever you offer, this needs to be clearly communicated to your existing employees and in your job descriptions.
This leads onto the next point – good communication. Gen Z value being kept in the loop about important company news such as business performance and how external factors will affect them and how you plan to support them. You want your team to believe in your business and rally behind it, so let them know exactly what is going on.
Feedback ties in with communication. Social media and the internet mean Gen Z can receive feedback and communication in real-time. The idea of waiting for a monthly review or annual appraisal is scary for some and you may find this makes them more anxious and disengaged. Gen Z managers should provide regular, constructive feedback in informal two-way conversations.
Provide opportunities for growth and development
Being able to progress and develop as a professional is important to Gen Z, and it can be a driver of whether they choose to accept a job with your company – or apply for one. It’s essential for them to know there are opportunities for progression, particularly the chance to be in higher paid roles.
Also, with companies having hybrid arrangements, Gen Z know they are not limited to working for companies in their local area and will look for opportunities to progress elsewhere.
Offer flexibility and work-life balance
When looking at how to accommodate Gen Z in the workplace, work-life balance should be near the top of your list. Again, this is related to hybrid, remote and flexible working and that many employees know this balance is possible. If you can offer a degree of flexibility such as flexible start and finish times, you’ll be much more attractive to job seekers.
It’s important to remember that anyone has the right to request flexible working from day one of employment and we recommend you try to accommodate them where possible. For more advice on this, see our blog.
49% of Gen Z’s have made work-related choices based on their personal beliefs and values over the past two years, they want to work for companies that have a positive and inclusive company culture.
Considering this, you may want to review and refresh your Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy and find out from employees any concerns they have which could be tackled in the workplace. EDI isn’t just about age, disability, race etc, it is also about being inclusive with employees who may have mental health/medical issues.
As with many aspects of HR, communication is key – as well as listening, it is important to be honest and clear in your approach and if you feel your business falls short in some areas, let your people know how you intend to address the problems.
People who feel their input is listened to, are more likely to participate, contributing to a culture where everybody’s views, values and individual strengths are valued, regardless of their background.
Address stress proactively and prioritise mental health
Research covered by BBC indicates that Gen Z are emerging as the most stressed demographic in the workplace – 91% of 18 to 24 year olds reported being stressed compared to 84% on average. Gallup also reported that Gen Z are the most disengaged group at work. So how can you Support the wellbeing of your Gen Z employees?
Gen Z are more open about discussing mental health and wellbeing, and as a company, you should be too. It’s important to create a culture where employees feel comfortable speaking up about their wellbeing concerns and managers should be trained to have difficult conversations with employees who are struggling with stress.
Offering access to counselling services through an employee assistance programme and training managers in mental health awareness will all help younger employees feel looked after. Wellness Action Plans can help managers to identify problems before they escalate, or to tackle them when they appear. It helps to them to identify what is required from them to support the employee. Lunch and learn sessions on mindfulness and meditation or dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues could help to build a supportive, open culture at work.
Generation Z crave stability and security, largely due to growing up during the recession and witnessing the struggles many of their parents experienced (such as the growing income gap). Financial worries such as being in debt and the lack of affordable housing in the UK are common, so financial education workshops and webinars could provide some peace of mind in this area, and reduce employee stress.