Gen Z working on a project - Viewpoint careers advice

Employers are adapting to a new generation of workers who are constantly connected and ambitious, but who seek instant gratification and feedback, and can be incredibly anxious. For Generation Z, the digital-native post-millennials born from the mid-nineties onwards, the workplace is exciting but daunting. In the latest issue of the Hays Journal, we spoke with experts from around the world to discuss the best strategies for recruiting the next generation.

1. Use their help to hire

Using existing knowledge and expertise in your organisation should be a no-brainer, but it’s not always applied to recruitment. It’s important to discuss Gen Z recruitment with existing Gen Z employees. Find out what attracted them to your business and keep an open dialogue about how you can retain them. 

Sue Warman, Senior Director, HR for Northern Europe and Russia for business intelligence and analytics firm SAS, says that while older workers are fascinated by their younger colleagues when recruiting from Gen Z it is best to ask for help from those in the same demographic. “You cannot fake youth as an HR person,” she says. “We are doing a big push to get our younger workers to recruit for us through their university contacts and social media. I have seen how companies are using virtual reality and gaming at events. You have to speak their language and not be too corporate.”

2. Seek parental approval

For many young people, parental advice is often sought when seeking employment. Their opinion matters, therefore your brand’s appeal to both parties is important. Steve Morris, Marketing Director of learndirect, explains: “There is a lot of parental influence. This age group will discuss with their family a potential employer, the role being offered and the salary,” he says. “For many Gen Zs and their parents, the employer brand is often more important than the initial job they will do.”

3. Offer training beyond job skills

While they bring many advantages, such as native digital skills and multi-tasking ability, this new generation will need help in other areas. Be sure to provide training beyond job skills to get the best from them and minimise friction with older workers. Warman says there is an element of pseudo-parenting required by HR and line managers as younger people learn what behaviours are acceptable in the workplace: “They need to understand meeting protocol, how to manage their time and how to represent our brand. It means a big coaching overhead for managers, but Gen Z welcome a good manager they can look up to.”

4. Offer more than a job

Giving this generation of staff a sense of purpose in their work is vital. They want to know they are making a difference rather than simply receiving a regular paycheck. Rob Phipps, Chief People Officer for KFC Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, says an incredible 95 percent of its 35,000 workforce were born after 1996. “To attract and retain Gen Z, we need to help them be the best they can be at work and in life,” he says. “We help them to make a difference to each other and to their communities. They also want to have fun.”

5. Offer them opportunity

Finally, consider how you can meet or manage expectation of progression within your organisation. Generation Z staff will be keen to see their hard work paying off. Offering development, be that through promotion or through a change of department, will pay dividends when it comes to retaining staff.

At civil engineering and construction company Costain, HR Operations Director Jenny Tomkins calls Gen Z the “impatient generation” and says the immediacy they demand in their lives extends to the workplace. The company has shortened its graduate scheme from three years to two and split it into two streams. There is still a longer route for those who need the technical knowledge to become engineers, but also a shorter path for those earmarked for management. “We want to be able to accelerate people’s careers if they are ambitious, but they still have to earn their stripes,” says Tomkins. “You also have to spot a young person’s strengths and potential early. We had one graduate who was going down the technical engineering route but was not doing too well, so we moved him into a sales role and he is flying.”

This article originally appeared in the Hays Journal Issue 13. Read the full article on pages 41-43 and watch the below video for an overview of other stories featured in the latest issue of the Hays Journal:

View the Hays Journal online or request a printed copy from haysjournal@hays.com

Author

Based in London, Sandra is the Group Head and UK/I Director of People and Culture for Hays.  Prior to this Sandra held a similar role for Hays in the Asia Pacific region, based in Sydney.  Sandra is passionate about organisational culture and its role in driving every aspect of business results.