Businesses are currently in the unique and historical position of pulling from a very diverse employee prospect pool. With four very different generations seeking employment options, organizations have an opportunity to create a positive workplace culture. One where employees are consistently learning, growing, and supporting each other.
Weighing in at 60 million, the youngest generation in our workforce, Gen Z, is also one of the largest. In fact, recent studies indicate that, by 2020, Gen Z will make up 40% of all U.S. consumers and 20% of our workforce.
Gen Zers are unique in that they are the first generation of “digital natives,” never having lived without advanced technology. They’ve also endured the trials of living in an unhealthy economy and in the shadow of events such as 9/11. As a result, many are more adept at adapting and are inherently more understanding of human differences than their predecessors. They have watched family and friends pick up the pieces after a catastrophe, band together, and rise from the ashes. These are the employees we want on our team and, eventually, leading the workplace.
With millions to choose from, why are so many organizations falling short when hiring Gen Z workers? How does the “right” employee turn “wrong” so fast? And what can we do to attract the right candidates from the get-go?
Stop “Selling” the Business as Something It’s Not
Regardless of what type of employee you’re looking to recruit, attracting (and retaining) today’s top talent means developing a strategy that is honest in its message. One that is a true representation of what your enterprise stands for, the message it is trying to convey to consumers, and what employees can expect once they join your team. The result is a winning team who is excited to walk through that door day after day.
If you’re having an issue attracting and retaining Gen Zers, read on to find out what you might be doing wrong and what the perfect employers looks like in the eyes of a Gen Zer.
1) You Don’t Have a Mentoring Program
Today’s young professionals have grown up with guidance from their parents, teachers, coaches, and colleagues. They aren’t afraid to ask questions or seek out help. In fact, they thrive on it and have come to expect it.
Gen Zers want to make their mark in society, both professionally and personally. They are attracted to employers who value the art of learning and are continuously seeking out ways to grow. Mentorship programs offer businesses a unique opportunity to both teach and be taught. And who better to learn from than the youth who will someday be running the show?
If your business does not already have a mentorship program, you are missing out on the best and the brightest. The time is now.
2) There’s Little Room for Growth
While there are many differences between Gen Zers and their predecessors, there is one that stands out the most - they are driven by money and ambition and will do whatever it takes to grow professionally. In fact, a recent study by Monster.com revealed that the “majority (67%) is willing to relocate for a good job, and 58% say ‘bring it’ to working nights and weekends for a better salary, compared to 41% across all working generations.”
For your business to be marketable to this younger generation, your organization must offer professional development and recognition. While financial compensation is important, it is not the end all be all. What matters most is that Gen Zers are only limited by their own performance. They want to work for someone who recognizes hard work through both financial compensation AND professional growth.
3) You’re Afraid to Take Chances
The introduction to new and improved technology has sparked a more innovative and collaborative workplace culture over the last decade. New business tools are introduced regularly, offering us the opportunity to reach a wider audience and collaborate with our colleagues on a broader scale.
Gen Zers crave a collaborative environment - a no judgment zone where co-workers support each other and work together for the greater good. They’re attracted to a workspace that supports the freedom to share ideas and that supports cultural diversity.
Entering new, uncharted territory and investing in new business tools can be intimidating, to say the least. But if your organization isn’t open to innovation, risk-taking and growth, you will not attract the most talented and driven of these rising young leaders. In the end, you will lose traction in your industry and establish a reputation amongst customers as someone stuck in the past. While this might feel safe on the surface, it’s a recipe for disaster for even the biggest of companies.
4) You Run a Rigid Enterprise
There’s no way to reach success in anything without structure and rules - history proves that. But there is something to be said for a business that recognizes the importance of flexibility.
Our younger generations have learned from the mistakes of the Baby Boomers, valuing the balance between a strong work ethic and a personal life. What this means for the employer is flexibility and trust. A trust in their workforce to get the job done on time and up to standards. It means allowing your employees the freedom to have a flexible schedule and to work away from the office when the need arises.
With more and more Veterans and Baby Boomers readying themselves for retirement, now is the time for businesses to really get to know what it is that makes the younger generations tick. The future is upon us and this is the time to evolve and grow, both individually and collectively.
With their tech savvy minds, socially conscious outlook, and an entrepreneurial attitude, Gen Z is a solid representation of the what our future business looks like. Surrounding yourself with a strong team means being honest about what your company stands for, what it has to offer, and where Gen Zers fit into the equation. Don’t oversell the job with things you cannot deliver. Clarify what is expected of them and what can be expected from you in return. Don’t fill them with empty promises - deliver what is expected. The return will be fruitful.