3 ways to make your company irresistible to Gen Z workers

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When Millennials entered the business world in the early 2000s, unemployment rates were nearly double what they are now — and steadily climbing.

As Generation Z comes onto the scene, unemployment sits at record lows. Companies seeking educated new talent are in a fight to catch the eye of post-Millennial prospects. In this tight labor market, it will take more than ergonomic desks and ping-pong tables to win the hearts of incoming Generation Z.


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That’s not to say that Gen Zers aren’t ready to toil diligently under the right circumstances.

According to the Pew Research Center’s findings, this cohort is less likely to be detached from education or employment than Millennials and Gen X were at the same age. But what are the right circumstances?

Glassdoor found that Generation Z employees typically mention job advantages using buzzwords including “work environment,” “flexible hours,” and “good pay.” In other words, these folks want to see what lifestyle edge their career can offer them. And they won’t stick around if a job doesn’t offer it. A Deloitte study indicates that 61% of Generation Z members may jump ship
within two years unless an employer can offer strong professional developmental benefits in exchange for their loyalty.

Perhaps this skepticism comes from Generation Z’s high degree of emotional tension. Workforce Institute indicates that these young people are fairly optimistic under normal situations, but 34% feel anxious and 17% struggle with low confidence, especially when considering their career futures.

Becoming a dream employer for a Gen Z worker

Not every job role or company lends itself to offering Generation Z everything these young workers want. Nevertheless, all employers can implement best practices to cultivate a more positive working environment for their youngest additions to the payroll. If you want to be irresistible to this generation of applicants, evaluate your internal strategies to
give Gen Zers a soft landing and reduce retention pain points.

1. Foster social and emotional awareness

Generation Z already possesses a baseline level of social awareness thanks to an early introduction to social-emotional learning (SEL) in school. However, most haven’t begun to harness their highest potential levels of empathy, communication, impulse control, and assertiveness because classroom SEL instruction just scrapes the surface. According to a study from MDR, Dun & Bradstreet’s education division, two-thirds of educators incorporate SEL into everyday learning activities, yet only 26% of teachers feel fully equipped to implement an SEL curriculum. SEL helps workers improve their tolerance and inclusivity, not to mention improve their general abilities to solve problems, mesh well with co-workers, and demonstrate basic social competencies in a diverse workforce.

That helps explain why the Allstate Foundation is already fostering SEL by committing $45 million toward SEL-based initiatives. Not able to spend millions? Even investing modest amounts in social-emotional learning can pull in Generation Z candidates who want their job experience to offer an emotionally healthy environment as well as a paycheck.

2. Promote continuous education at all levels

Typically speaking, this new generational cohort already comes into the workplace better educated than Gen Xers or Millennials were. Boasting the highest percentage of people finishing high school and entering college, Generation Z appreciates learning. To keep Gen Zers in information-absorption mode, offer them formal and informal education from the moment they
sign on.

Remember, though, that Generation Z doesn’t need formal workshops or curriculum-based training to absorb ideas. This group is comfortable with being active learners and receiving feedback, but attention spans run short. Consequently, provide Gen Z workers with both offline and online learning models. At the same time, offer plenty of job shadowing, mentoring, job rotations, and self-driven studies. Be sure to include regular feedback checkpoints to ensure improvement. Providing frequent guidance keeps the learning process going in a deliberate rather than scattershot direction.

3. Take unnecessary stress out of working

Mental health issues, including burnout, plague Generation Z, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey results. It’s not surprising: This generation has seen everything from an increase in mass shootings to economic fallout from the Great Recession. Employers are in a position to stop stress before it starts, beginning with the way job
responsibilities are set up and managed.

For example, Gallup reports that giving employees the keys to their own success can make burnout 55% less likely. This can involve having measurable metrics designed to provide workers with a path that definitively shows the value and importance of their output. Managers may also want to offer Generation Z team members some flexibility in when and how they complete duties. Presenting freedom within wide parameters gives employees the chance to control their schedules and carve out their own priorities, which helps to temper potential feelings of frustration.

The older members of Generation Z are ready to work, but they have plenty of options. If you’re ready to fight for this young and eager talent, then go ahead and throw your hat in the ring. Whether or not your company is their first pick will depend on how attractive you make the work environment based on their unique traits and needs.