Monday 19th July, or ‘Freedom Day’ as it was jovially named in the UK, saw nightclubs welcoming dancefloor goers for the first time since March 2020. But as the final industries affected by COVID-19 open their doors once more, workplaces appear to be treading much more cautiously, with many continuing to adopt flexible working measures.
This of course means more working from home, more Zoom meetings with line managers, fewer face-to-face conversations – we all know the drill by now.
There has been increased concern about Gen Z employees in particular missing out on the typical office environment and subsequent interactions that have become so standard for generations before them. But is this really what they want and need – or just what we consider normal?
Though research suggests that some members of Gen Z will call for a return to the office, this isn’t the driving factor. Instead, many are looking at the bigger picture and what other incentives employers can offer. So, what can organisations say and do to ensure they attract and retain employees from this young and extensive pool of talent?
Who Is Generation Z?
Gen Z is typically made up of people born between 1995-2010. In the US, it is predicted to make up 30% of the workforce by the year 2030 and is the first generation to be classed as digitally native – often referred to as iGen.
According to a study by Deloitte, Gen Z values salary less than any other generation and is more likely to value engaging work that is interesting and diverse. Unlike trophy-seeking Millennials, who are driven by financial success and job titles, Gen Z is more inclined to stick with an organisation that provides new challenges and skills to master.
But what about attracting them through the door in the first place? While innovation and collaboration are key components for Gen Z, they are also intrinsically drawn to companies that take a moral and ethical social stance, which is reflected in their policies and how they treat their employees.
You only need to look at Gen Z’s consumer habits, favouring brands who are known for their sustainable credentials and moral compass, to know where their priorities lie. If this generation chooses not to buy from brands who ignore the pressing issues of our time, they aren’t likely to work for them either.
Transparency Is Key
With a generation so focused on acquiring new skills, working their way up the ladder, and not settling for anything lower than the moral standards they themselves hold in such high regard, it’s easy to see why Gen Z is adept at seeing straight through any company that tries to pull the wool over its eyes.
A McKinsey survey recently showed that Gen Z is more likely to be pragmatic and analytical about its decision-making. Gen Z respects honesty and transparency and is more likely to stick with a company that is upfront about realistic prospects.
That said, chasing passion may mean more job-hopping than previous generations. They shouldn’t be judged for this; employers should keep the hiring process as honest and transparent as possible, so individuals know what is required of them. When a Gen Z person does leave the organisation, if the employer has done everything possible to make their experience rewarding and fulfilling, they’re more likely to return to the company in future.
L&D For the Win
With so much emphasis on building career paths and finding their own way in an organisation, development opportunities are key. By giving Gen Z scope to innovate and try new ways of doing things, you are more likely to keep them engaged. This is crucial to making them feel empowered, heard, and rewarded.
This is the generation that grew up knowing how to swipe left before they could even say the word, so you’d better have the right tech to attract them. This should form an integral part of your learning and development programme. Employers need to adapt to ever-evolving technology that matches the expectations of Gen Z and the external environment, which means offering robust training and leadership programs that focus on diversity.
Practice What You Preach
While previous generations have been exposed to global cases of human rights abuses, economic downturns – even wars – Gen Z has grown up in an era of unprecedented protest and unrest. The Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements have put race and gender equality at the forefront of social injustices, not to mention a global pandemic and a climate change crisis that’s threatening future generations – something that Gen Z played little to no part in.
They not only want to be part of the movement to improve the world, but they also want companies to show they’re doing their bit too. It’s therefore down to employers to demonstrate authenticity and a solid set of values around improving the state of the world, not just advancing the company. Gen Z is less interested in gross turnover or the 10-year plan – a bigger incentive is having managers that they respect as individuals.
The Gen Z workforce is attracted to organisations that show they are doing some good in their communities and industries. This could be this on a smaller scale, implementing recycling initiatives or charity partnerships, or it could be a broader demonstration of diversity and inclusivity company wide. Gen Z respects and gravitates towards authenticity and openness.
Benefits Aren’t One Size Fits All
Decent pension schemes may be what makes a Baby Boomer tick, but will you get the same enthusiasm from a Gen Z employee? Maybe, but likely not.
If you have a benefits package within your organisation, does it offer flexibility to employees who have different lifestyles, commitments, hobbies or passions? If it doesn’t, have you considered asking your employees what they would find beneficial as an additional workplace benefit?
It’s unlikely that the Baby Boomer and Gen Y responses would mirror those of Gen Z – and even Gen X. In addition to a sizeable pension offering, consider a volunteer day or training scheme to further a particular skill.
Of course, gratitude can be shown in other ways, and Gen Z is more likely to feel rewarded by consistent recognition and appreciation. Gen Z workers want to be acknowledged for their strengths and what they bring to an organisation, so employers that can motivate them through clear reward structures are more likely to attract and retain this group.
Gen Z is confident, hardworking, and motivated by career growth. And what’s more, they’re not afraid to speak up. This generation will live and raise their children in a world drastically altered by the careless actions of those before them. They have every right to take a stand. They have every right to expect better.
Written by Sarah Humphreys
3R Strategy is an independent reward consultancy helping organisations to build a culture of trust through pay transparency. Book a free discovery call with us today.