Generation Z, the newest generation of workers, is entering the workforce with specific priorities and expectations. Born between 1997 and 2012, they have grown up in a world marked by technological advancements, economic turbulence, and social and environmental issues. As HR managers and employers, it is crucial to understand what attracts and retains this generation of workers to create a prosperous and dynamic workforce for the future.
The Network Trends Report
The sixth annual Network Trends report from Handshake, an online recruiting platform for higher education students and alumni, conducted an online survey from August 30 to September 28, 2022. The survey gathered responses from 1,853 job seekers who were college students and upcoming graduates, with representation from 615 four-year colleges and universities.
The Handshake survey sheds light on the job search priorities of Generation Z job seekers, revealing that job stability is the top priority for this generation. The respondents cited concerns about job insecurity, citing layoffs they have witnessed in the past, which makes them seek employment with established companies that have demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity.
In addition to job stability, the survey also found that Gen Z values competitive starting salaries and benefits, such as workplace flexibility and mental health benefits. These findings provide essential insights for employers and HR managers seeking to attract and retain top talent from this generation.
The Handshake survey highlights the importance of understanding the unique preferences and priorities of Generation Z, who are entering the workforce with specific expectations. By addressing the concerns of this new workforce entrant, employers can ensure a prosperous and dynamic workforce for the future.
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Job Stability: A Primary Concern for Gen Z
Job stability has become the primary concern for Gen Z job seekers. This generation has grown up witnessing the fallout from the 2008 recession and multiple layoffs, making them wary of job insecurity. As a result, they seek employment with established companies that have demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity.
This preference for job stability is a notable shift from previous generations. For instance, Millennials were often criticized for their tendency to change jobs frequently. In contrast, Gen Z values long-term job security and the opportunity for career advancement or cost-of-living raises. In the Handshake survey, 74% of respondents rated job stability as an essential factor when applying for a job.
To address this concern, employers can offer clear communication about job security and stability, such as outlining the company’s history and commitment to its employees. Employers can also offer opportunities for professional development and career advancement to demonstrate their commitment to their employees’ long-term career goals.
Salary Expectations: A Gender Disparity in Expectations
Salary expectations are also high for Gen Z workers. However, there is a noticeable discrepancy between male and female students’ expectations. Female students anticipate an average salary that is $6,200 lower than their male counterparts, highlighting the need for greater pay transparency.
Several states, including California, Colorado, New York, and Washington, require pay transparency, granting employees and job candidates the ability to negotiate competitive pay more effectively. However, the method of disclosing pay varies among states, which can cause confusion for both employers and employees.
Employers can address this concern by being transparent about salary expectations and offering competitive salaries that are commensurate with their employees’ skills and experience.
Benefits: A Significant Factor in Gen Z’s Job Search
Workplace benefits are another significant factor influencing Gen Z’s job search. Workplace flexibility, for example, is highly sought-after by these young professionals. While most Gen Z workers do not want a fully remote work experience, they do appreciate the option of a hybrid work schedule that accommodates their personal lives and reduces the cost of commuting.
Employers can attract Gen Z job seekers by offering commuter stipends, hybrid work schedules, and mental health benefits. According to a 2022 survey by Securian Financial, Generation Z and Millennials are more likely to value mental health benefits than older generations. Additionally, clearly communicating career paths and mentorship programs in job descriptions can entice these young professionals.
In addition, employers should also offer other benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, to demonstrate their commitment to their employees’ well-being and work-life balance. These fringe benefits are seen by Gen-Z as a valuable and necessary part of any good employment package and can go a long way towards retaining the best employees.
Onboarding Experience: The Key to Retaining Gen Z Employees
To retain Gen Z employees, companies also need to invest in an exceptional onboarding experience. This involves transparent communication about company culture and expectations. For example, clarifying whether employees are expected to have their cameras on during video calls, when and how they should share ideas, and the appropriate channels for communication can help young employees adapt to their new workplace more easily.
An excellent onboarding experience can also help new employees build relationships with their colleagues and feel more connected to the company. Employers can assign mentors or buddies to new employees to guide them through their initial months on the job, answer their questions, and provide feedback. Employers should also provide comprehensive training and development programs to help employees acquire new skills and advance their careers within the company.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Priority for Gen Z
In addition to the factors mentioned above, Gen Z also values companies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. They want to work for companies that align with their values and take a stand on social and environmental issues. According to a survey by Deloitte, 69% of Gen Z respondents said they would choose to work for a company that has a positive impact on society.
Employers that can demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility can attract and retain top talent from this generation. Companies can create a diverse and inclusive workplace by recruiting from a wide range of backgrounds and providing training on unconscious bias, cultural competency, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Employers can also create employee resource groups to provide support and advocacy for underrepresented employees.
Technology: A Necessity for Gen Z
Another critical consideration for employers is the technology they use. Gen Z has grown up with technology, and they expect their employers to keep up with the latest tools and software. Companies that use outdated technology may struggle to attract and retain Gen Z employees.
Employers should also be prepared to invest in technology that enables remote work, collaboration, and communication to meet Gen Z’s expectations. Employers should also offer training and support for new software and technology to ensure that employees can use it effectively.
As Generation Z enters the workforce, HR managers and employers must adapt to their unique preferences and priorities. Gen Z values job stability, competitive starting salaries, workplace flexibility, and a supportive onboarding experience. Employers that can address these concerns can attract and retain top talent from this generation, ensuring a prosperous and dynamic workforce for the future.
Employers should also create a diverse and inclusive workplace by recruiting from a wide range of backgrounds and providing training on unconscious bias, cultural competency, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Furthermore, companies should demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and environmental sustainability to attract and retain top talent from this generation.
Investing in technology that enables remote work, collaboration, and communication is also essential to meet Gen Z’s expectations. Employers should keep up with the latest tools and software and provide training and support for new technology. Ongoing skills training and career development are also paramount to this generation. They want to know that their hard work will be rewarded with opportunities for advancement.
By addressing the concerns and expectations of Generation Z, employers can create a work environment that fosters innovation, creativity, and productivity. The future success of businesses depends on attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent, and by meeting the needs of Generation Z, employers can ensure a prosperous future.
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