Generation Z: who they are, what they want, and how to recruit them

Just as HR professionals nationwide are beginning to figure out how to effectively recruit and retain millennial workers, an even more perplexing generation is entering the workforce: Generation Z.

Generation Z includes people born during the mid-‘90s to about 2010, putting the oldest members of the generation around the age of 22 or 23. As the older members of Generation Z start to enter the workforce, companies are reevaluating their recruitment processes, particularly for internships and entry-level positions, in order to address the priorities of this generation.

As an HR representative or business owner, here’s what you should know about Generation Z employees:


Gen Z prioritizes security, opportunity and meaningful benefits

Many members of Gen Z grew up watching their parents lose jobs and struggle financially during the Great Recession. These parents pushed their children to find secure jobs in high-paying careers, leaving members of Generation Z as the least likely to believe in the concept of the “American Dream”.

As a result, members of Gen Z are more independent and see more value in large salaries and growth opportunities.

Taylor McCutcheon, a 22-year-old University of Florida graduate, found that opportunity for growth was the driving factor during her job search.

“When I say growth opportunities, I don’t just mean climbing the corporate ladder by getting job promotions, I mean developing on a personal level,” said McCutcheon. “I have the opportunity to work with great clients and be surrounded by talented individuals. My focus during my job search paid off because now I work in a challenging, fast-paced environment, which has forced me to grow and has set me up to secure jobs and to do greater things down the line.”

While many millennials are enticed by office perks like free food, open floor plans and game rooms, Generation Z is enticed by more practical benefits.

According to Forbes magazine, Generation Z is more interested in long-term benefits, like healthcare and 401Ks.

“(At my company) there is tuition reimbursement, so I plan to go back and get my MBA,” said McCutcheon. “That’s a great benefit and growth opportunity for me, too.”

Generation Z is attracted to continuous advancement and self-improvement, which will make them more competitive candidates in the future.

“The nice thing about (working at my company) is that it’s a big company so they’ve really figured out the whole coaching process and have developed clear paths to reaching the next step in your career,” said McCutcheon.


Gen Z wants flexibility and a digital focus

Almost all companies are going digital, just in time for Gen Z.

According to a survey conducted by Fortune magazine, out of the CEOs surveyed, 67% of them said they would consider their company a “technology company”.

Members of Gen Z grew up in a technology-driven world, and they are comfortable and familiar with a digital workplace. This makes them great multi-taskers, who are able to switch back and forth between different projects on different devices.

As technology advances and companies make digital transformations, remote workplaces are becoming more common and the traditional nine to five job is facing more threats.

Thanks to VPN technology, employees are able to access their company networks from almost any device in any location, and working virtually is becoming more and more popular across the United States.

According to Forbes magazine, 37% of survey respondents said that at least a portion of their work is done virtually.

Since Generation Z is comfortable working on multiple devices and multi-tasking, they are more likely to pull up a work project at a coffee shop or even while they’re watching television at home. They don’t practice a harsh division between work life and home life like other generations, and they prefer to work in smaller increments and in varying locations.

However, despite members of Generation Z being digital natives, they do value face-to-face communication. When Gen Z is at the office, they expect to have in-person meetings and enjoy being involved and collaborating with colleagues.


Gen Z wants a cultural fit

A study conducted by Universum revealed that 37% of surveyed Gen Zers disclosed that not finding a job that matches their personality was their biggest fear about starting work.

Generation Z wants an office environment that fits their culture and focuses on the “employee experience”: a company culture that is employee-centered, personalized and enriching.

Trends in HR show a shift in the amount of companies that focus on the “employee experience”. A survey conducted by The Future Workplace and Beyond showed that 83% of HR representatives considered the “employee experience” important or very important to their company’s success.

Part of the “employee experience” is creating the perfect workspace. Gen Z wants open workspaces that promote collaboration and teamwork, but they also want private workspaces for when they need to concentrate and complete their work.

As a result, organizations are beginning to focus on the physical environment that their employees work in, along with the tools and technology that increase their productivity.

“(The company) definitely focuses on the employee experience,” said McCutcheon. “We have tons of perks and the people I work with are all like-minded. (The company) has figured out that happy employees are the most productive.”


How to recruit Gen Z

When meeting with candidates, Human Resources can tempt members of Gen Z with promises of opportunity and the potential for future raises. Describe the ways your company fosters the individual growth of its employees and guides them toward career advancement. Explain the ways your company focuses on employee education and skill development, and stress the ways your company challenges its employees.

Recruiters can also mention the long-term benefits your company offers in addition to office perks. Take it to the next level by offering to educate them on how to understand and manage those benefits.

When recruiting members of Generation Z, be sure to include your company’s stance on remote workplaces and flexible schedules, and clarify your expectations and requirements of employees if your company does embrace those facets.

Lastly, describe your company’s culture and values. Express the values your company upholds and describe the office culture. Tell them how your workspaces accommodate both collaboration and individual work.

By Lauren Vehar

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