April 16, 2024

How to Recruit (and Retain) the Gen Z Worker 

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Marketing Team
April 16, 2024

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As more of Gen Z — the oldest of whom turn 29 in 2024 — ages into the workforce, it is becoming increasingly important for recruitment and HR professionals to consider this generation’s needs when working to attract talent.  

Gen Z shares many worries and expectations with millennials, with a few key differences. For example, Gen Z pushes harder for the workplace support that millennials knew was lacking but made little action towards pre-pandemic. This makes recruiting Gen Z a fresh challenge that will force the HR and recruitment industries to rethink how they attract and grow talent. 

Gen Z Knows What It Wants  

To name a few, Gen Z is asking for financial education and support with money management, ongoing training and education, and mental health support through their workplaces.  

In order to attract Gen Z talent, talk isn’t enough. This is a generation that wants action, and they’re more than willing to change jobs or go freelance if they don’t get what they need. Having come of age during the pandemic and watching the generation before them struggle through recession, members of Gen Z are acutely aware how difficult working life can be — and they are willing to advocate for themselves.  

Job Switching Is at an All-Time High 

Almost 70 percent of Gen Z’ers (along with younger millennials) considered switching jobs in 2023, and Gen Z job switching increased 134 percent between the start of the pandemic and 2023. This is a stark reminder for employers that retention rather than recruitment is going to be the true challenge of the 2020s. 

A tight labor market is part of this trend, but Gen Z also possesses a mixture of resignation and self-confidence that means the idea of a “job for life” is long gone. Only a quarter of the Gen Z workforce expects to be able to retire, while just 41 percent see homeownership as a possibility in the future. Without the promise of future rewards keeping them in jobs, young people do not need to slog their lives away when a position or an organization doesn’t feel quite right.  

Gen Z is also more likely than previous generations to work multiple jobs or to work for themselves. One-quarter have more than one job, and two-thirds have either started their own business or plan to do so. They are a generation defined by ingenuity through necessity. They are, generally, unwilling to rely on one job or back themselves into a corner financially by having only one stream of income because they have seen how quickly the world can change.  

Attracting and Retaining Gen Z Through Growth Opportunities and Flexibility 

To allow Gen Z time for their side hustles and work-life balance, flexible work arrangements like remote work and flextime should be considered. However, that isn’t to say that in-office working environments should be ruled out. According to a study done by Dell, 1 in 5 Gen Z workers actually “favor a 9-5pm office-based structure.”  Employers who can offer more flexible arrangements are more likely to attract and retain this dynamic generation. 

Additionally, real growth opportunities such as training programs, mentorship opportunities, and clear career paths help retain Gen Z employees. Gen Z is ambitious and eager to learn new skills, and employers who can provide opportunities for growth and development are more likely to keep them engaged and motivated. 

Social and Environmental Responsibility 

Unsurprisingly for a generation born into climate crisis and climate anxiety, Gen Z wants to see true commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Recycling bins and a cycle-to-work incentive are no longer enough.  

Gen Z’ers are interested in careers that prioritize social responsibility and ethical practices. They are looking for companies that are committed to sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and social justice. Many are choosing to work for companies that align with their values and make a positive impact on the world. This has to be more than a mission statement, because Gen Z is more than willing to jump ship if what they were promised during recruitment is not delivered during their first few months or years with a company.  

Does Gen Z Care About Company Culture? 

Particularly since the pandemic, employers have been recognizing the importance of company culture. In fact, promoting aspects of company culture has become key to many recruitment strategies.  

Gen Z values a positive work culture that prioritizes teamwork, open communication, and transparency. As with commitments to environmentalism and other social responsibility initiatives, company culture has to be more than just talk. They want inclusive, socially conscious workplaces with flatter hierarchies and a real commitment to flexibility. Gen Z employees are less likely than other generations to put up with long hours, enforced overtime, or overbearing bosses. When recruiting Gen Z, a quick PowerPoint on ping-pong tables and free lunches simply won’t cut it. Company culture must run deep.  

A Changing Job Market Beyond Gen Z 

The landscape of work in the U.S. and beyond has been changed by both the pandemic and huge leaps in technology. The modern job market is changing rapidly, with more Americans turning to freelance work and the gig economy than ever before. In fact, freelance work now accounts for 39 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2023.  

At the same time, 65 percent of American workers are actively searching for a new full-time job. This shift towards more flexible work arrangements is reflected in the growth of the gig economy, which grew 15 times faster than the traditional job market between 2010 and 2020. Along with inflation and the ripples of pandemic debt and job losses, this shift to gig work means that more and more Americans are working multiple jobs to make ends meet. This trend is likely to continue in the future, as workers try to turn the negatives of the last few years into positives and seek greater flexibility and control over their careers. 

Recruitment strategies overall need to be adapted to this changing world, whether you’re recruiting Gen Z or older workers.  

Gen Z and Money 

Gen Z’ers who are now old enough to work were born in the mid-to-late 1990s or very early 2000s, so they have memories of the Great Recession. As a result, they are seeking financial stability early, even though they have little expectation of achieving the levels of wealth managed by Gen X and baby boomers. 

This is why starting salary and opportunities for growth are top priorities for the youngest working generation. Yes, they want sustainability, social justice, and work-life balance, but they are in no way lazy.  

Gen Z is willing to work hard but working hard in 2023 looks a little different than it did ten, five, or even three years ago. 

In order to attract and retain Gen Z talent, employers are going to have to adapt to a changing world of work, including new expectations and new boundaries. 

Are you struggling with recruiting and retaining Gen Z talent? Get in touch with us today to recruit top talent and adapt to the new world of work expected by Gen Z employees. 

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