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How To Attract Generation Z Employees

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 05/01/2024

Gen Z professional having a video call interview

Table of Contents

Just as companies have developed strategies to successfully employ millennials, it's now time to do the same for the next wave of job seekers entering the workplace and learn how to attract Generation Z (Gen Z) employees. These individuals are generally defined as those born between 1997 and 2012. They are graduating from high school and college, taking jobs across different industries, and will grow to be a significant portion of the U.S. workforce. This generation is estimated to include about 65 million people and will grow in numbers and influence over the next five to ten years, both as consumers and employees.

For now, most of the research about Gen Z has focused on how to market to them. However, a growing number of studies are also informing employers that are beginning to draw upon the talents of this new generational workforce. You may want to consider the following regarding what the latest group of workers is looking for in the workplace and what HR departments can do to understand how to attract Gen Z employees.

Infographic - Gen Z growing influence

The 2024 Pulse of HR research, Navigating the New Workplace, shared that when looking for jobs, members of Gen Z prioritize flexible working hours and remote work options, salary, and company culture when searching for a new job.1 Gen Z is also known for being motivated and driven toward success in the workforce.

What Are Generation Z Career Expectations?

Technology, transparency, social responsibility, and diversity also remain high priorities among the Gen Z population as they evaluate potential employers in the future. But it would appear that this generation is all business when it comes to their finances and careers. So, how does that impact your ability to hire and keep them?

Infographic - Gen Z Career Expectations

Regardless of the research about what Gen Z wants from work, the greatest myth about this new pool of workers is the perception that they're much different from all the workers who came before them. This generation continues to desire the things that other employees desire from an employer.

One of Gen Z's expectations is the desire for a safe, comfortable, and friendly workspace. People want to enjoy coming to work. They want to work with people who they like. They don't want to be too cold or too warm. They get hungry during the day and would like a place to take short breaks. They want to go somewhere to work that is as comparable to their homes as possible without it being too personal. They don't want to be treated unfairly or unkindly by others. Ultimately, this workplace description is not exclusive to Gen Z. Instead, this tends to span many generations, and companies should aspire to provide such an environment to their employees.

45% of Gen Z employees value opportunities for promotion, career growth, and advancement within the company.1 However, this is not unique to Gen Z. People of all generations want to feel like they're moving forward professionally. They want to understand their goals and objectives. They want to believe in what they're doing. Most like to be challenged with new projects and responsibilities. They want to work in a place where their opinions are respected and their contributions are rewarded. They want regular feedback, evaluations, and open communication with their managers. 

Infographic - Things to consider as you hire Gen Z

Finally, regardless of their generation, most people want to work at a place that makes them proud. A company that, in its own way, is making the world a better place. Part of this is an organization with a mission and is led by hard-working, honest, and admirable executives. They want to feel like they're part of something special and that their contribution makes a difference. Plenty of jobs are available, but the best workers of any age will gravitate toward those jobs at companies that they can tell their friends and family about.

Recruiting Generation Z: How To Make Your Business an Attractive Workplace

If you want to know how to attract Gen Z employees, you'll need to understand the concerns and priorities that have been shaped by their past experiences. HR decision-makers today are emphasizing the following as a means for attracting Gen Z talent:

  • Promoting a healthy work-life balance (87%)1
  • Offering competitive salaries (66%)1
  • Providing options for remote work (63%)1

To make your organization a place where Generation Z wants to work, consider providing the following:

Assist With Debt Payoff & Offer Financial Security

Many members of Gen Z experienced financial insecurity when their parents suffered job losses due to the 2008 financial crash or lost property when the housing bubble burst. Combined with growing up in a post-9/11 world where terrorism and other security issues make headlines on a regular basis, Gen Z appears eager to move past these challenges. Additionally, the financial stress of the pandemic has caused some Gen Z to fall behind on credit cards, rent, or other payments.

In addition to college graduates dealing with student debt, these factors have caused Gen Z to become increasingly focused on job and financial security. These priorities can manifest in different ways. Some may choose to bypass traditional college programs in favor of learning a trade or landing a job with an employer who will help pay for college. Others are looking for employers interested in making a long-term commitment to their careers, a contrast to the popular narrative about millennials and their propensity for switching jobs. One in five Millennial and Gen Z workers intend to stay at their current job for over five years.1

As student loan debt is among Gen Z’s largest personal finance concerns, employers can foster their sense of financial security by helping with their student loan repayments.

Infographic - Offer Gen Z Financial Security and Assist With Their Debts

Be Flexible & Open to Contract Work and Entrepreneurship

There seems to be an increasing percentage of the workforce looking to work for multiple employers as an independent contractor. Offering flexibility in the type of role you're hiring for, including options like contract work or flexible work hours, may help your business adapt more to the needs of Gen Z.

Build a Strong Employer Brand

Gen Z is known as a digital-native generation, and employers need to focus on their social and digital recruiting efforts to reach them. Employers should consider the following regarding meeting Gen Z work expectations:

  • Having a strong employer branding website, which is frequently updated with the latest jobs.
  • Creating mobile-friendly content, such as videos that show the company's culture.
  • Actively engaging with candidates on social media and other emerging platforms.
  • Fully embracing mobile-friendly applicant tracking systems.

Emphasize Your Business's Commitment to Authenticity and Diversity

Gen Z members are generally self-educating about brands. They may be savvier at a younger age than previous generations due to their constant exposure to digital culture and advertising. Authenticity, brands with values that are larger than simply the bottom line, and brands that openly embrace diversity will likely all have an advantage. Just as companies are finding ways to bring these values to the forefront of their marketing, it's important that your HR team finds a way to center the same messages in their candidate outreach.

Gen Z Personality Traits & Characteristics in the Workplace

A diverse generation, Gen Z individuals tend to be accepting and open-minded of others. They are also concerned about social and environmental issues. They appreciate authentic interaction and want to work for companies that demonstrate a commitment to their shared values.

While Gen Z brings a wide variety of experiences and personalities to the workplace, they share recognizable and identifiable traits as a result of growing up within the same time period. Some of the common work characteristics and strengths noted in these employees include the following:

  • Tech-savvy — Gen Z members are often referred to as "digital natives" because they grew up using smart devices and having near-constant internet access. Their education leveraged technology, and they have learned to navigate the vast amount of information available online to get the answers they need.
  • Innovative Mindset — Many want to be entrepreneurs and aim to open their own business. They are willing to adapt and change to improve processes in a work setting.
  • Independent and Competitive, Yet Still Collaborative — Generation Z often has participated in collaborative efforts as a part of their education, giving them a sound understanding of how to be a team player. However, they are also competitive and prefer to be judged on their own merit.

Finding and Hiring Gen Z Employees

Like generations before them, Gen Z students look to connect with recruiters through resources provided by their colleges and universities. College career fairs and internships provide valuable leads to entry-level positions. Although most of Gen Z values face-to-face interaction during the interview process (in-person or via video chat), they are also quite comfortable interacting with recruiters through email.

As digital natives, Gen Z job seekers may have certain technology expectations when interacting with recruiters and companies. They may favor companies with advanced, user-friendly application systems and often expect a quick response.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into Gen Z's job prospects. After many of their important milestones were delayed or changed due to the pandemic, such as graduations or weddings, they were also concerned about work. One in seven workers between the ages of 18 and 24 are reportedly looking for jobs in industries that are more "future-proof."1

Begin Recruiting Generation Z Employees Today

Companies must learn how to leverage their strengths and talents as more Gen Z individuals complete their education and enter the workforce. This up-and-coming talent has already made strong contributions to the workforce and society in general, and their desire for success will continue to carry them into greater achievements in the future. Employers can leverage the power of recruiting and hiring services to help them attract and bring Gen Z employees on board with more success.

1Navigating the New Workforce 2024 (Sponsored by Paychex®) – POHR March 2024


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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