July 25, 2023 | In the News
What Gen Z Wants: 6 Ways to Attract the Best Young Talent
Gen Z represents the brightest young talent—and with the persistent talent shortage, companies and leaders are wise to be intentional about how to both attract and retain them.
However, Gen Zs aren’t just younger versions of other employees. Their experience translates into unique needs, priorities and requirements for their careers.
Here’s what Gen Z wants in a job according to data, plus what employers can do to attract and retain the youngest talent.
Recent Grads Are Casting Wider Nets
According to Monster’s 2023 State of the Graduate Report, 74 percent of new college graduates are concerned that the state of the economy will impact their job prospects. And 56 percent believe employers have greater leverage than candidates in the job market.
Because of this, new grads are casting a wide net—with 66% planning to go broad in their search, based on a survey by ICIMS. In fact, Handshake reports that 36% are exploring a greater number of industries, companies and roles to challenges in the economy.
But while they’re keeping options open, they’re also selective. Monster’s report also shows that 77 percent of new grads wouldn’t apply to a company that has had a salary freeze and 74 percent would avoid companies with recent layoffs. Additionally, many are turning away from companies (25 percent) and industries (22 percent) that have had negative press.
The bottom line? Employers must manage their reputations—and while they may have the upper hand in the job market, they also need to be deliberate about selling job options to candidates and ensuring a positive match between skills and opportunities.
How Employers Can Attract Gen Z Talent
Here’s what employers can do to attract and retain the youngest talent in the workforce:
1. Prioritize Purpose
One of the most important elements that organizations can offer Gen Z is purpose. In fact, 65 percent of new grads would choose a job with slightly lower pay if it meant working for a company whose mission aligns with their personal values, according to a poll by A Team.
In addition to informing candidates about a role’s duties, employers should explain how the job function will contribute to the value chain and the goals of the company overall. Gen Z talent wants to know how they can make a unique difference to the organization and those it serves.
2. Prioritize Leadership
New graduates also want great leaders. Fifty-one percent in the Monster poll say that having an effective manager is the most important aspect of a job, while 37 percent report that they would quit if they don’t like working for a particular leader.
When you’re recruiting, it’s wise to introduce a candidate to both their manager and other leaders in the organization—and reinforce the extent to which leaders are smart, engaged and accessible.
3. Prioritize People
Gen Z candidates are also looking for companies that prioritize people. A whopping 70 percent would accept less pay to work with teammates they love, according to A.Team.
They also want to work with diverse colleagues—with 42 percent in the Monster survey saying they would turn down a job that doesn’t offer a diverse workforce or leadership team.
Additionally, it’s important for companies to value their employee’s well-being: 92 percent of Gen Zs believe it’s important to be able to discuss mental health at work, according to Monster. And 41 percent expect support for mental health, based on ICIMS data.
And according to Monster’s data, 58 percent of recent graduates say work-life balance is the most important aspect of a job — and 54 percent expect to turn down a job that doesn’t offer it.
Organizations must feature a healthy culture that embraces people and creates the conditions for respect and strong relationships between co-workers. Recruiters should ensure candidates understand programs and processes which support all kinds of work-life support and well-being.
4. Prioritize Learning and Growth
Learning and growth are also critical elements of a job for new grads. It emerged in every study reflected here. In addition, ongoing challenges and development are highly correlated with both happiness and job satisfaction.
The data from ICIMS says 44 percent want opportunities for growth. Monster reports that 54 percent would even turn down a job at a company that doesn’t offer career growth opportunities—and 43 percent would quit without these.
A study by Bright Network that surveyed a sample of over 14,000 Gen Zs found that the skills they most wanted to learn were networking, coding, leadership, problem-solving, negotiation, organization, time management, presentation skills, resilience and teamwork.
When you’re attracting new candidates, highlight the fact that they’re joining a company where they can make a career and advance over time. This may be through formal learning, mentorship or day-to-day moments working side-by-side with teammates.
5. Prioritize Autonomy and Flexibility
Gen Z wants to work in the office to meet people and advance their careers—but they also want the flexibility and autonomy to work remotely sometimes.
According to Monster, 73 percent are more likely to apply for a job if the position allowed them to work remotely from anywhere, and 49 percent would turn down a job at a company that doesn’t offer flexible work schedules.
Handshake reports that 72 percent want hybrid work, while only 16 percent want fully remote and 12 percent want fully in-person. Gen Zs value in-person work for the development it offers—with 61 percent who believe working in person will help them advance their careers more effectively than working remotely.
Give people options for how and where they work—based on the responsibilities of the job—and trust them to get work done with plenty of choice and autonomy in their approach to their work. At the same time, offer a great office experience where they can build relationships and make their best contribution.
6. Prioritize Pay
To attract Gen Zs, you’ll need to pay well. Sixty-two percent say a good salary is the most important aspect of the job, and 45 percent are expecting a strong starting salary, according to Monster.
You’ll also need to be transparent about pay. According to ICIMS, 43 percent won’t apply for a job if the salary range isn’t included—and based on Monster data, 51 percent say unclear salary during the interview process is a red flag.
Offer competitive salaries and be transparent about what new employees will earn. In addition, share details about how pay is calculated and how people can increase their pay over time.
Planning for a Bright Future
Overall, the future is bright for companies that can create a compelling value equation and attract terrific new talent. Gen Zs are also optimistic, with 88 percent saying they’re confident they’ll receive a good offer, according to Monster.
But of course, match matters most—finding the right graduate with a skill set that will align with the role and the culture—as well as positive potential for all they’ll offer in the future. Finding the best fit for the candidate and the company will create a powerful pathway for success on all sides.
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