Strategies for Attracting and Engaging Gen Z Candidates

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With each new generation that joins the workforce, different priorities and values come into play. As the oldest members of Generation Z enter the workforce, employers who fail to understand their unique needs and expectations will face significant challenges in attracting and engaging this generation of job seekers. In the following article, we explore how organizations can navigate Gen Z’s workplace demands to attract the talent they’ll need to build a strong multi-generational workforce.


Building an Employer Brand Around Sustainability and Social Responsibility

1 in 3 Gen Z workers have rejected a job or assignment from organizations whose values dont align with their own - LevelUP HCS

Source: Deloitte, Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, 2022

Gen Z may be the most socially conscious generation yet. They are eager to make a difference in the world and are passionate about global issues like climate change, wealth inequality, social justice, and gender equality. For employers, this means that values and ethics are increasingly important. According to Deloitte, over a third of Gen Zs have rejected a job or assignment from organizations whose values don't align with their own. Put simply, Gen Zers want to know that the companies they support are making a positive impact on society and expect businesses to follow through on their stated goals.

Companies can address this demand by adopting strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies that target environmental and socioeconomic challenges. They’ll then need to build those practices into their employer brand. Some companies have set goals and targets focused on specific areas of improvement—for example, a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a certain percentage each year. Others have found ways to engage workers in environmental and social initiatives. Many companies today have opted to replace single-use plastics with reusable or biodegradable options at office locations, for example. Organizations could also offer green benefits, such as subsidies for carpooling and public transport, workplace charging for electric vehicles, and training to help workers develop more environmentally friendly habits. In addition, companies can also provide opportunities for employees to give back to their communities or get involved in social causes they care about.


Actively Working Toward Increasing Workplace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

48% of post-millennials identified as racial or ethnic minorities in 2018 - LevelUP HCS

Source: Pew Research Center, Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet, November 2018

As the most diverse generation in history, Gen Z is also acutely aware of issues of inclusion and equity. They seek out organizations that reflect their own identities and celebrate diversity, while also pushing for change when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace. Gen Z candidates want to see themselves represented in a company’s recruitment marketing materials, as well as in the C-suite.

Employers must be genuine in their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion if they want to attract and retain the best Gen Z talent. This involves hiring for a more diverse workforce, promoting diverse workers to leadership roles, investing in DE&I-focused training and development programs, facilitating discussions about systemic racism, and more. By building a strong diversity statement and being responsive to current events, employers can show candidates that they are aware of the issues facing marginalized communities and that they are committed to inciting change.

An employer's website is often the first impression that potential candidates have of an organization. With that in mind, employers must ensure their website conveys a commitment to DE&I. Websites should feature an in-depth diversity page that showcases workforce diversity while highlighting specific DE&I initiatives. In addition, the organization’s career page and job postings should always include information about DE&I practices.


Prioritizing Mental Health and Wellness

25% of Gen Zs reported feeling emotionally distressed following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic - LevelUP HCS

Source: McKinsey & Company, Addressing the unprecedented behavioral-health challenges facing Generation Z, 2022

According to research shared by McKinsey & Company earlier this year, 25 percent of Gen Zers reported feeling emotionally distressed following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. That's a significantly higher percentage than previous generations, with only 13 percent of millennial respondents having reported feelings of emotional distress.

Gen Zers have come of age in a time of political turmoil, economic insecurity, and global crises. It's no wonder that mental health is a top concern for this generation. When it comes to the workplace, Gen Zs want to see their employers take action on mental health. They want to see more support for employees struggling with mental health, as well as more transparency from employers about mental health policies and procedures.

Promoting wellness in the workplace should be a key component of any Gen Z-facing employer brand strategy. Employers must communicate available wellness benefits and resources throughout the recruitment lifecycle—be it through the website careers page, job postings, social media, or a verbal introduction to the organization. Recruiters should be instructed to promote these wellness offerings as they connect with candidates; they should be able to elaborate on programs and policies that support employees struggling with stress, burnout, and other mental health concerns. Lastly, by having your recruiting team highlight relevant policies such as generous time-off or flexible work arrangements, you can demonstrate to candidates that a healthy work-life balance and boundary setting are norms for your business.


Offering Hybrid Work Models to Encourage Work-Life Balance

Employees aged 18–34 are 59% more likely to leave than older workers if not offered hybrid work - LevelUP HCS

Source: McKinsey & Company, Hybrid work: Making it fit with your diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy, 2022

Gen Zers grew up during the Great Recession and saw their parents struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance. What’s more, having witnessed political upheaval, climate change threats, and an unstable economy, this generation is plagued with existential anxiety. Consequently, Gen Z is rejecting workaholic culture, embracing a good work-life balance, and determined to find a job that won’t consume their entire life; this generation of talent is less willing to sacrifice their personal lives for their career, and they're not afraid to switch jobs if it means they'll have more time for themselves. This April, McKinsey & Company reported that younger employees (aged 18–34) were 59 percent more likely to leave than older workers (aged 55–64) if not offered hybrid work.

Having grown up with constant access to technology, Gen Zs are also comfortable using a wide variety of online tools and platforms. As such, this generation is used to working independently, and traditional work setups that involve fixed schedules and locations are often seen as restrictive and stifling. It’s clear that employers need to offer more flexibility in terms of both scheduling and location to offer Gen Z more control over their work lives.


Realigning Compensation and Benefits Packages 

46% of Gen Zs dont feel financially secure - LevelUP HCS

Source: Deloitte, Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, 2022

With many Gen Z candidates starting their careers during a time of economic unease, one of the hallmark values of this young cohort is a strong desire for financial stability. According to Deloitte’s Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, nearly half of Gen Zs live paycheck to paycheck and constantly worry about whether their income will cover their expenses. With student loan debts and costs of living on the rise, it’s no wonder that Gen Z workers are focused on earning a high salary. Over the last two years, pay has been the number one reason why Gen Zs have left a role, according to data from Deloitte.

Given the high degree of stress that financial concerns create for Gen Zs, a competitive pay and benefits packages is essential for any company that wants to attract candidates from this generation. This not only includes industry-benchmarked salaries but also benefits like retirement planning and tuition reimbursement. In addition, organizations can expand their benefits package to offer resources for financial planning, debt management, and budgeting. By taking these steps, organizations can show Gen Z candidates that they are committed to helping them manage their finances and achieve their long-term financial goals.

The newest generation of workers are pursuing their careers with a deep sense of purpose. In addition to wanting to work for a company that has strong values they can identify with, members of Generation Z also place a high value on pay, mental health resources, and work-life balance. By understanding the unique needs and expectations of Generation Z, organizations can adapt their policies and practices to better attract and retain the best and brightest of this generation.

There are five generations of talent in the workforce today—each experiencing your organization through their own lens. LevelUP offers a multi-generational workforce strategy, which can increase quality of hire, reduce cycle time, and provide cost savings. Contact us today to learn more.

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