People & Leadership

5 ways to attract and retain Generation Z talent

In five years, Generation Z will make up 20% of the workforce. Is your company prepared to attract and retain top Gen Z talent?

Generation Z: tech-savvy, socially conscious and highly ambitious.

This is the latest generation to enter the workforce – and for some, the most valuable.

While Generation Z, the cohort born after 1995, are only in their late teens and early twenties right now. And they are quickly establishing themselves in the workforce.

Many businesses value Gen Z workers for their technical abilities, excellent communication skills and ability to adapt quickly to new situations.

As they’re expected to make up more than 20% of the global workforce in the next five years, the time for HR and People teams to start working on an acquisition and retention programme for these rising stars is now.

Yet with Gen Z already placing high demands on the business world – requesting everything from flexible working to the latest technology at work – how can HR and People teams work out the best strategies?

Here’s five areas to get started.

1. Adapt (quickly) to flexible working

Gen Z continues the trend established by the millennials before them – they want their jobs to be totally flexible.

This generation has grown up and been educated not knowing a world without internet access and instant communication, thanks to mobile.

Being ‘always-on’ means Gen Z are already clued up on the importance of switching off.

So if your organisation is still focused on securing employees on permanent contracts, if you offer a typical vacation package, and if you still equate performance with being in the office between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, you can forget hiring top Gen Z talent.

Instead, ask questions and listen to what Generation Z applicants want in terms of flexibility.

For instance, many Gen Z employees prefer to be measured on performance, rather than time. They believe so long as they are delivering high-quality work, it doesn’t matter how long they spend in the workplace.

So if you can offer them a delivery-based contract rather than demanding 40 hours per week of their time, or allow them to work anywhere and anytime, you are more likely to attract them – and get the best from them in the long run.

2. Offer financial incentives

Growing up in the wake of the 2008 crisis and following recession has made Gen Z financially prudent.

By the time they enter the workforce, many Generation Z-ers will be looking to pay back high student debt, mounting healthcare costs and increasingly unaffordable housing.

This is why many prefer to take a cautionary approach to spending and saving.

According to research from UK-based finance company Zopa, 40% of Gen Z-ers consider saving to be ‘fundamental’.

Therefore, Gen Z is more likely to pay attention to not only the salary, but the full range of financial incentives on offer at your company.

When it comes to workplace benefits, things such as healthcare and dental insurance are more likely to appeal than meaningless perks.

3. Help them develop their careers

Jobs for life may be a thing of the past, but Gen Z don’t seem to mind.

Instead of seeking security in one job, they prefer to treat themselves as an investment, which means they relish the opportunity to learn as much as possible.

As they see it, the more they learn today, the more valuable they’ll be to employers in the future.

This means companies offering learning and development opportunities will be more likely to hang on to top talent.

In fact, Sparks & Honey found the number one factor attracting Gen Z employees to jobs was the opportunity for career advancement.

4. Invest in technology

Having never known a world without the internet, it’s no surprise Generation Z is sometimes nicknamed the ‘iGeneration’.

This generation is more adept at communicating than any that has ever existed before.

Generation Z have been using instant messenger applications, social media and email since a young age – meaning they’ve been practising written communication skills for pretty much their whole lives.

This makes them extremely valuable, especially in roles that require a high level of communication such as customer services, sales and marketing.

However, you will only stand to benefit from these skills if you give your Gen Z staff the tools they need.

Make sure you use technology that helps, not hinders, your workforce in their roles.

Use cloud technology that means they can work anywhere, anytime. Use systems that automate admin tasks across the whole organisation, freeing up time to concentrate on the things that matter.

5. Take care of their wellbeing

Mental health is a big topic right now among HR and People leaders, and Generation Z are taking notice. They’re increasingly looking for employers who show they care about mental health issues.

According to the Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association, as many as 37% of Gen Z respondents have already encountered stress and burnout in their jobs.

Employees experiencing high levels of stress are more likely to miss days of work, feel disengaged, and leave jobs earlier than people who experience less stress.

Having an effective stress management programme at your company is not only essential for helping you to retain top talent – it also helps to attract employees from other companies who feel stressed out.

Showing employees that you care about their mental health through positive action is one of the most positive – and cost-effective – changes you can make.

Ultimately, don’t generalise  

When we talk about managing different generations, we must remember that everyone within those age ranges are different – so while you may be trying to attract and retain Gen Z talent, it still pays to take a personal approach.