In just a few months – 2020 – Millennials will account for 46% of the US workforce, and many companies are putting great efforts into finding the best ways to attract, hire and retain the best of this (relatively) young talent in order to avoid a damaging skills gap as the last of the Baby Boomers begin to retire.
However, there is another demographic on the horizon, Generation Z, – also known as Generation Wii, the IGeneration or Digital Natives – who are slowly beginning to enter the workforce. In fact, they now comprise 32% of the global population, edging out Millennials at 31%.
Generation Z. Those born between 1996 and 2012, which, if you do the math quickly are currently between seven and twenty three years old.
The top end of this age range is graduating college and entering the workplace, and so it's important that companies start thinking now about how best to attract and retain these employees who are bringing some rather different skill sets, preferences and habits into the wonderful world of work with them.
Why Are Gen Z So Different?
To understand the biggest reasons why Generation Z are quite so different it helps to look at some of the things that changed – especially in terms of technologically – during the time period that covers their birth:
Between 1996 and 2012, most people went from that first, call and text only mobile phone to a smartphone that, in 2019, is a part of almost every aspect of daily life for many of use. And with that explosion of smarter phones came the App Evolution, and we are now using apps to do almost everything.
WiFi arrived during this time as well. It almost seems unthinkable now but it was not until 1997 that wireless internet was first released to consumers and it took a few more years for the technology to become widespread.
The death of the floppy disk. Do you remember them? No doubt you do, but show one to a Gen Z'er and chances are that they will have no clue what it is.
Gen Z employees may even struggle with the concept of huge hard drives and giant corporate servers, because they are used to saving everything, from their selfies and memes to the Google Doc based high school and college assignments, to the cloud.
Generation Z Characteristics in the Workplace
Based on the above, there are some things that can be safely said Generation Z their general work-related expectations:
They Are Endlessly Tech Savvy
The fact that no one born into Generation Z remembers a world without digital devices, internet, or social media means that they know perfectly well how to navigate this kind of technology. As a result, they use it for virtually every aspect of their lives. And they expect nothing less from their workplace.
For Generation Z, company systems that are hosted in the cloud and accessible from anywhere and on any device are nothing special. The same goes for video calls. Why make a weird, audio only old-fashioned phone call when you can use FaceTime, Whatsapp, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and a ton of other video call applications to look the other person in the eye?
These are just two of the many examples of technological applications that are perceived as the norm by Generation Z – but not necessarily yet by the organizations that recruit them.
They Are Serious About Job Security
Many of the older members of Generation Z do have vivid memories of the Financial Crash of 2008 and remember all too well what it did to the adults – their parents and grandparents – back then, and in many cases how it negatively impacted their own childhood.
This is one of the reasons why Generation Z – unlike their Millennial predecessors – is quite risk averse. Yes, they attach importance to the fact that the job they’re doing has a certain purpose, but they also find it as, if not more, important that it gives them a good degree of security.
Tips for Hiring Generation Z Employees
Now that you better understand who these new employees are, let's look at some of the ways you can attract – and retain – the best of this new pool of tappable talent and some tips for hiring Generation Z employees.
You Need a Mobile Recruitment Strategy
For Gen Z their smartphone is their preferred device – by far. Many of them don't even actually own a desktop computer. As an organization looking to hire these young people you need to cater to this preference. As they organize their entire lives with their mobile phone, that's where Gen Z look for jobs, so that is how you will have to reach them.
This means doing things like ensuring that your job descriptions are short and sweet, that if you are asking for documents they are easy to upload via smartphone and that the application process is fast and efficient. Gen Z will click away if a web page of any kind takes more than a second or two to load and that is as true of job descriptions as anything else.
Adapt To Their Shorter Attention Spans
Building on the last point, it’s important to be aware of the relatively short Generation Z attention span. Not just in terms of your application process, but also how you onboard them when you do hire. Having to read through reams of company documents won't work for Gen Z.
This means presenting you onboarding process in different ways. Video is the by far the best, in everything from the application process to training. In following tips for hiring Generation Z employees a growing number of companies who need to recruit Gen Z are allowing candidates to submit video applications rather than written ones, and are including video in their job posts, making use of it to showcase their offices, possible on job scenarios and to highlight perks and benefits (more about those in a minute)
When it comes to training and on boarding, training videos are nothing new. But Gen Z is the interactive, digital driven generation, so things like Kentucky Fried Chicken's virtual reality 'game' training are likely to become the expected norm soon (check it out, it's actually very clever as it appeals perfectly to the Gen Z learning style)
Emphasize Benefits and Perks
As we mentioned, Generation Z are far more risk averse than Millennials, so for them great health benefits are a HUGE draw.
This is a generation who are seeing those just a little older than them suffer as a result of health coverage that does not really cover their needs and also a generation that is acutely aware – perhaps more so than any before it – of the importance of mental as well as physical health.
This means that a great benefits package is going to be something Gen Z employees are actively seeking and will use as a deciding factor when choosing between job offers.
Gen Z also appreciates health and wellness perks, but they actually don't ask for too much.
As the YouTube generation they are more used to following workout videos at home than going to a gym, so that may not be as appealing as the idea of basic health and wellness measure like free snacks, lunch and learn sessions – Gen Z does love to learn – and the flexibility to come in a little later and work a little longer.