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How To Attract Generation Z Employees

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 02/14/2022

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 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, over the next five to ten years will grow in numbers and influence, both as consumers and employees.

For now, most of the research about Generation Z has focused on how to market to them. But 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 are looking for in the workplace, as well as what HR departments can do to understand how to attract Generation Z employees.

Infographic - Gen Z growing influence

One study done by The Center for Generational Kinetics found that when looking for jobs, members of Generation Z prioritize salary, flexible schedules, benefits, and company culture over technology and the ability to work remotely. In the workforce, Generation Z is known for being motivated and driven toward success.

What Are Generation Z Career Expectations?

Technology, transparency, social responsibility, and diversity also remain high priorities among the Generation 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 Generation 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 Generation Z. Instead, this tends to span many generations, and companies should aspire to provide such an environment to their employees.

People of all generations, including Generation Z, also 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. They want to work for a company that will give them the opportunity to grow, progress, and advance.

Infographic - Things to consider as you hire Gen Z

Finally, most people, regardless of their generation, 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 that has a mission and is led by executives who are hard-working, honest, and admirable. They want to feel like they're part of something special and that their contribution is making a difference. There are plenty of jobs 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 Generation Z employees, you'll need to understand the concerns and priorities that have been shaped by their past experiences. According to the 2023 Pulse of HR, companies today are emphasizing the following as a means for attracting Gen Z talent:

  • Company mission (businesses with 5-49 EEs)
  • Training and career development opportunities (businesses with 50-99 EEs)
  • Diversity (businesses with 100-499 EEs)
  • The onboarding experience (businesses 500+ EEs)

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 Generation Z experienced financial insecurity when their parents suffered job losses as part of 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 card, rent, or other payments.

These factors, in addition to college graduates dealing with student debt, 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. As student loan debt is among the largest personal finance concerns for Generation Z, 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

A recent EY survey revealed that 45% of Generation Z individuals were interested in starting their own businesses. There also 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 Generation Z.

Build a Strong Employer Brand

Generation 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 Generation 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

Generation Z members are generally self-educating about brands and 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, Generation Z individuals tend to be accepting and open-minded of others. They are also concerned about social and environmental issues. In fact, according to a survey of Gen Z members by Tallo, 68% of respondents admitted to anxiety over climate change and 59% said they would consider a company's climate-related policies when accepting a job offer. They appreciate authentic interaction and want to work for companies that demonstrate a commitment to their shared values.

While Generation 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 — Generation 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 have set a goal of opening their own business. In a work setting, they are willing to adapt and change to improve processes.
  • 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 (either 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 has thrown a wrench into Generation Z's job prospects. After many of their important milestones have been delayed or changed due to the pandemic, such as graduations or weddings, they are also concerned about work, with one in seven workers between the ages of 18 and 24 reportedly looking for jobs in industries that are more "future proof."

Begin Recruiting Generation Z Employees Today

As a greater number of Generation Z individuals complete their education and enter the workforce, companies must learn how to leverage their strengths and talents. 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.


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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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