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Understanding Gen Z: what the next generation is looking for in an employer

May 2022 6 min read Written by Charlotte Jackson

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Insights into the Gen Z mind
  • How to connect with Gen Z
  • Ways to make your employer brand more appealing

Generation Z is doing a lot to shape the future of work. And for recruitment and employer brand teams within the Millennial category and beyond, it can be hard to pin down exactly what’s needed to nurture this current and future talent pool.  

In terms of generational shifts and experiences, they’re the most unique of the century, having grown up with internet connection as standard.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the mindset of Gen Z in the context of employment and recruitment. 

Don’t have time to read the whole article? Download our concise whitepaper guide for your key insights and action points. 

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Who is Gen Z?

Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z aren't the mystery that the media portrays. In fact, their motivations, wants and needs are very reasonable. They are also paving the way for raised workplace expectations and improved benefits packages for every generation. 

Gen Z’s ideal workplace looks vastly different to those of some earlier generations. Having a family isn’t the top priority. Work-life balance is key. Salary is only one of many other critical factors. 

They are the generation causing waves not seen before in the world of work, and now employers are having to quickly learn how to attract and retain this all-important workforce of the future. With Gen Z accounting for around 30% of the world’s population, they are predicted to represent 27% of the entire workforce by 2025.

What makes Gen Z different?

Working conditions across the world have greatly evolved over the years, reforming through both legislation and the needs of the global population. While many prior generations have been exposed to very distinct periods of time, and have seen the gradual progression of society and technology, Gen Z has been raised in a world that centres around technology in almost every aspect of life.

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The older portion of Gen Z has been witness to the 2008 recession and the COVID-19 pandemic. Gen Z places salary as a lower priority than other generations, and are not worried about taking risks despite the financial turmoil of these events.  

June-A1-Article-visual-02Gen Z wants to be challenged, nurtured and pursue interesting work that means something to them. Unless they have the job of their dreams or are working for a company that has a mission to do great things in the world, without purpose, Gen Z is likely to move on from one role to the next, until they are able to find the right fit. 

They know they can’t undo the damage that has been done to the environment and the world, but by working for a company that has sustainable and ethical CSR and ESB policies, it can help to shine a positive light on their employer. 

Additionally, diversity and inclusion have become deciding factors of whether a Gen Z candidate feels comfortable working for an organisation, something that has had much less focus in older generations.

Insights on Gen Z attitudes

The unique circumstances that Gen Z experienced as they made their journey to the workplace have not only given them a distinct set of priorities but have also shaped their attitudes at work.

Their lives are wholly integrated with technology

To Gen Z, being connected to what’s going on in the world and the people they care about is a must. They are more likely to be receptive to new tools and software, and could help companies find more digital ways to reduce manual processes.

They are always learning

As one of the most formally educated generations to date, Gen Z thrives on learning new information in engaging ways. If they don’t know how to do something, they’re more likely to find the answers on Google or watch a tutorial on Youtube first than ask peers. 

If they’re not learning or bettering themselves, they can feel stagnant, restless and unfulfilled so it’s important to keep professional growth and gaining skills a high priority within their working hours.

They won’t stick around just for financial security

We’ve seen a seismic shift in the rights of workers over the last half a century. But to this day, there are still employees who find themselves stuck being unhappy in roles where they aren’t treated correctly. This is often because they are responsible for their families or have other financial commitments.

If a Gen Z employee is unhappy, they won’t stick around and hope that things will improve – regardless of whether they are in a good financial position or not. Their entrepreneurial spirit will carry them off to the next opportunity or they will start up a venture on their own in a freelancing capacity. It’s important that a company’s culture, values and mission align with a Gen Z employee’s expectations, as well as the perks and benefits.

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What are Gen Z’s needs, wants and expectations in the workplace?

To capture the attention of burgeoning Gen Z talent, it’s important employers are doing all they can to satisfy the needs, wants and expectations of this savvy new wave of workers.

What does Gen Z need?

  • To have interesting and fulfilling work 
  • Financial stability but not at the expense of their mental health
  • A supportive culture where work-life balance is appreciated
  • Flexibility in how, when and where their work is delivered 
  • To continually learn and grow, professionally and personally

What does Gen Z want?

  • To work for an environmentally conscious company
  • To have shared values and attitudes with their employer
  • The opportunity to give back to their community or causes they care about
  • Logical pay progression based on merit, skill and contribution
  • Trust and freedom to earn more holiday or prolonged periods of leave

What are Gen Z’s expectations?

  • Inclusion and diversity to be a priority for their employer, who can effectively demonstrate their commitment
  • A personalised employee experience and journey, based on individual goals as well as their wider team’s 
  • Incentives for pay rises, progression and improved quality of work 
  • Transparency and openness within the workplace environment
  • Having the option of hybrid working, but having the opportunity to regularly meet with colleagues in-person – face-to-face interaction is still important to Gen Z

Discover Gen Z’s needs, wants and expectations in our handy whitepaper guide and distribute it to your team as a learning tool. It’s full of tangible ways to make your employer brand more appealing to the next-generation workforce.

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How to recruit and retain Gen Z

While we can’t generalise an entire generation, recruitment experiences have seen the etiquette between candidates and potential employers change somewhat with the Gen Z population. Here we explore what this change could mean for your recruitment strategies…

Move fast, communicate often

They are keen to move fast and don’t want to be sitting around waiting for responses from interviewers. If your interview process is unclear, long or multi-staged, your Gen Z candidate will disengage and move on to the next opportunity. The key here is to keep communication clear, consistent and frequent.

Highlight support network

While one of the most educated generations, Gen Z is acutely aware of the knowledge and skills gaps they may need for roles. If the training and support they’ll receive on-the-job aren’t made clear from the outset, they are also likely to disengage.

Opportunities to go global

A desire to travel is something that has been strongly ingrained in most generations, but Gen Z is set to make it more commonplace than it has ever been before. If a global company firmly aligns with their mission and values, another big plus would be opportunities to transfer to other disciplines in different parts of the world – exposing them to new cultures as well as new areas of the business.

Put mentorship programmes in place

Training and routes for progression are valuable to Gen Z, but having someone they can go to with any questions or advice is invaluable. Gen Z has incredible gratitude for someone that takes the time to help them, so having a dedicated mentor will both be beneficial for them and for succession planning within the business.

Regular recruiter training

The employer brand experience starts with your recruiter, whether that’s an in-house person or an external company. If they aren’t receiving regular training or check-ins, there could be something going wrong at the very first hurdle.

Gen Z is the future — is your employer brand ready for the change?

Employer brand teams have a big mountain to climb when it comes to realigning recruitment strategies to meet the needs of Gen Z – though many are already making the changes. It’s important to get real-world feedback on your campaign ideas and approaches, whether that’s through market research or internal surveys with existing Gen Z employees.

In order to support an agile approach to brand content production, a tool such as BAM by Papirfly™ can play a big role in meeting the demand for marketing materials. It provides a central place for teams to create infinite digital, video, social, print, email assets and more. No design experience is needed and there's no danger of assets going off-brand. 

Intelligent templates ensure teams stay totally aligned, and that marketing can be quickly adapted for different markets and cultures.

To learn more about BAM for yourself, view our dedicated BAM for Employer Branding teams page, or book your demo today. 

by Charlotte Jackson
Employer Brand Specialist

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