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Recruiting Gen Z

How will the next wave of workers change the way corporate leaders recruit, retain, and engage their workforce?
In the early 2000s, the workplace began to change again. The newest generation in the workforce, millennials, valued different things from their predecessors, such as collaboration with each other and a stronger work-life balance. They traditionally only stayed at their first job for three years before moving on to another opportunity, changing expectations of the workplace dramatically over the next two decades.

While “millennial” is a term that some use with a broad meaning to include anyone young, it is important to recognize that there is a new generation emerging and entering adulthood, and ultimately, the workforce. They are Generation Z and they will begin seeking full-time jobs within the next year.

Generation Z, or Gen Z as they are commonly called, is the group of individuals born after 1996. This up-and-coming generation was born into a booming U.S. economy during the late ’90s and early 2000s. They saw that economy come crashing down in the economic turndown of 2007 to 2012. During their formative years, they saw parents getting laid off and people losing their homes. Their parents raised them to work hard and strive for success to ensure this would not happen to them.

Although they have many similarities to their millennial peers, this group has been described as most like their great-grandparents of the Greatest Generation—otherwise known as “the matures.” They share characteristics such as loyalty and a sense of responsibility. This may be due to similarities in the state of the economy, political climate, and life experiences, as these factors tend to shape the way generations act and react.

One characteristic of Gen Z that sets it apart from previous generations is their dislike of being put into a group at all. To help us understand them, however, we will have to overlook this dislike so that we may understand common trends and characteristics.

Whether employers want to recruit for Gen Z or not, they are the future of the workforce, and employers need to prepare for how to recruit and retain them. To begin, Gen Z is more likely to stay at a position longer than their millennial counterparts. When asked what they value in a job, millennials declared “mattering” as their top influence, while Generation Z put “job security and safety” at the top of their list. Common characteristics that have been identified for this generation are:

  • valuing uniqueness and individuality overall
  • wanting a company to show interest in, and outlets for, their differences
  • valuing independence, security, and competition in their jobs
  • wanting employers to recognize that what works for one person will not always be appealing to others.

Employers should focus on providing Gen Z with challenging work that appeals to their interest as individuals. If they do, Gen Z is positioned to provide the most efficient and targeted work of the past several generations.

The differences in needs and wants from each generation adds diversity and new opportunities to the workplace. Employers can use this information to understand not only how to recruit the upcoming workforce, but also the reasoning behind their habits and ways of thinking.

As this generation becomes the primary consumer base, the market share for customizable products will most likely rise and more efficiency will be required. By having an employment base that relates to this trend, your company will increase its ability to predict and meet consumers’ needs.

You can lean heavily on Gen Z’s talents in marketing your brand. Members have multiple social media accounts on the same platforms just to target different groups of friends. They can read people and produce material they know will appeal to specific groups, enabling a company to better attract or expand their target market.

So, how can you entice this generation? They will become the biggest segment of employees within the next 15 years. You need to know how to recruit them, so the best thing a company can do is make sure its leadership understands, values, and works with these characteristics and desires.

Generation Z wants efficiency. They grew up with technology that can answer their questions in under five seconds; they are the first generation to go to the internet—before any other source—for an answer to their questions. Because of this, they want an efficient recruiting process, in which they have direct one-to-one contact with their source of information. Multiple points of contact will frustrate them, so assigning one recruiter to each applicant is important. Growing up in a world where technology has made information available immediately and at a moment’s notice has made this generation not one to wait. They have short attention spans, so quick communication is important. Gen Z would rather spend all day interviewing with multiple people than making several visits or communicating with a company over the span of a few weeks.

Generation Z would typically rather work on a project basis, putting a lot of effort into something for a short time and taking a break before the next rush. This affects the workplace vision of work-life balance, moving more toward flexible hours rather than long periods of vacation.

Although they like to work independently and strive toward success, this generation is one of the most community-focused that has been studied. They want to be involved in philanthropy, but in a direct way, rather than by donating money. Enabling employees to work directly with the philanthropy of their choice for a certain number of hours a year is very appealing.

The nature of employment will be altered by the influx of younger employees, but this is not a bad thing. By getting Gen Z into your company’s workforce now, you will enable sustainable employment growth for the next decade.

By ensuring new employees that you not only understand their needs as individuals, but can also be flexible with their future needs, you’ll show that your company is a perfect place for them to learn, develop, and stay. In turn, your organization will grow and retain employees in a way it has not for a hundred years.

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