New year, new hiring push — and your efforts probably include Generation Z. This generation of digital natives is the newest to enter the workforce, bringing 61 million potential new hires who are expected to comprise 36% of the workforce by 2020. But how do you bring them into your company?
First and foremost, don’t get mired in the same myths over this generation as you might have with millennials. Now the largest demographic in the workplace, millennials are not the self-involved, short-lived cohort some asserted, and neither are Gen Z.
While this generation does bring a whole new sensibility and digital savvy, you don’t have to change your work culture or employer brand just for them. Instead, focus on these five factors to attract and engage this growing demographic:
1. Brand and culture
Make sure your employer brand aligns with your workplace culture. While the workforce itself may be new to Gen Z applicants, they may already be aware of your employer brand, and that may shape a preconceived notion of your culture and company values. That perception could determine the kind of applicants you get: Gallup finds companies with a powerful and positive work culture attract the top 20% of candidates.
However, don’t try to craft a specific perception of your company; make sure your brand authentically aligns with your internal culture. Gen Z candidates want the story they hear during the recruiting process to match the day-to-day reality when they come on board. If it doesn’t, they will be a lot less likely to stick around.
2. Learning and growth
Many members of Gen Z consider a four-year college degree to be crucial to future career success, and they’re quickly becoming the most educated — and debt-laden — generation in history. Offering growth and learning opportunities is vital, since organizations that invest in learning and skills/capabilities development will be especially attractive to this cohort.
What’s more, they have high expectations for learning in the workplace: According to a recent Deloitte survey, 44% believe on-the-job training will be more valuable than what they learned in school. Leaders should ensure professional development and mentorship initiatives are at the heart of attraction and retention efforts.
3. Meaning and community
Gen Z is the most socially active generation ever, and they want their work to be meaningful. Social-good initiatives are a valuable source of pride for these employees. This will certainly contribute to your overall brand culture, and possibly to your bottom line, since purpose-oriented employees consistently outperform those who are less engaged.
Social-good opportunities also go a long way in creating a sense of community; this is equally important to this group of digital natives, who are happiest when they feel genuinely connected to their coworkers. Get them involved in projects and teams, and foster a workplace with a culture of inclusion: one in which everyone feels equally welcomed, valued and part of the community.
4. Communication and feedback
Gen Z is accustomed to the responsiveness of online chatbots and automated customer service — and that consumer experience is the foundation for their expectations as candidates and employees. Interestingly, however, they fully understand the negative effect technology may be having on their interpersonal skills, and 83% say they prefer in-person dialogue to online communication.
This cohort also wants on-the-job coaching, regardless of job position, intern/employee status or company size. Having grown up in the perpetual feedback loop of social media, they expect the same at work. Constructive, real-time feedback is going to deliver far better results than occasional performance reviews.
5. Autonomy and flexibility
Gen Z craves — nay, demands — flexibility, autonomy, exposure to different work situations and work-life balance. They’re shaping their jobs to fit their daily lives, not the other way around, and they readily understand how technology facilitates flexibility.
Today, you are vying to keep employees not only from your market competitors, but also from leaving full-time work altogether. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the gig economy will comprise 43% of the current workforce by 2020. To offset a potential drain of new talent, build flexible opportunities into your company.
Think outside the nine-to-five box where you can, using tech to enable part-time, contract work and job-sharing, as well as flexible schedules and telecommuting. Set your teams up with tools that support fast hiring, effortless collaboration and flexible working styles. And consider whether it’s time to shift the workplace emphasis away from time-based value to output value.
Building these five factors into your workplace culture will help you recruit, hire and retain Gen Z employees. And if they don’t respond to your recruiting and hiring efforts, don’t lose track of them; this generation expects you to keep in touch, and you never know when their situation may change. Start now to create a dynamic talent pool of great new candidates who will become tomorrow’s workplace leaders.
Meghan M. Biro is a globally recognized analyst, author, speaker and brand strategist. The founder of TalentCulture, she hosts #WorkTrends, a popular weekly Twitter Chat and podcast. Her career spans across recruiting, talent management, digital media and brand strategy for hundreds of companies, from startups to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google. She also serves on advisory boards for leading HR technology brands. Meghan can be regularly found on Forbes, SHRM, and a variety of other outlets. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.