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Recruiting Gen Z: How to engage younger talent

Jan 23, 2020

Wendy Kennah
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Wendy Kennah
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A younger wave of talent is crashing the workforce. For the past decade, millennials (born between 1981-1996) have transformed the way organizations engage the modern-minded worker. They currently comprise the largest demographic employed in the United States, yet times are swiftly shifting again. Millennials are no longer the youngest kids on the block – Gen Z is on the scene.

Gen Z (born after 1997) will represent a major force in business, and tapping into their talent is both a priority and a challenge for employers. Millennials are maturing and making way for the new generation, and your hiring strategies must evolve with them. The younger wave of talent rolls with a whole new slew of unique values, priorities and work outlooks, yet how can your organization effectively engage with Gen Z – who is estimated to represent 36 per cent of the global workforce by 2020?

Here’s how your organization can engage the next generation worker.

Commit to corporate social responsibility

Gen Z cares about social ethos, wanting to make their mark better than previous generations. And many younger workers care more about social and environmental commitments than compensation; recent data finds 30 per cent of Gen Zs are willing to take a 10-20 per cent pay cut to work with a more socially responsible company. This means organizations need to emphasize their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts and align their employer value proposition (EVP) with new worker priorities.

Yet while 87 per cent of organizations believe their current CSR strategy is failing to engage younger workers, others, however, like Google are doing it right. The company allows Googlers to devote up to 20 hours of work time to volunteer efforts each year and awards $50 grants to non-profit organizations for every five hours a worker spends volunteering.

Develop a culture of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)

For organizations that do have a D&I program, only 17 per cent consider Diversity and Inclusion as a key part of their EVP. And it’s a major mistake. Because younger workers are the most diverse generations in the workforce and 77 per cent of Gen Zs say that a company's level of diversity affects their decision to work there.

Who are these diverse workers Gen Z wants to see?

• Gender
• Ethnicity/race
• Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT)
• Military veterans
• Different ages
• Workers with disabilities
• Varying thinking styles

A solid D&I program just doesn’t engage younger workers.  Organizations with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes. It’s important to note, however, that HR leaders can create D&I programs, but without executive support from the top, lasting change won’t happen.

Revisit your content strategy

More than 90 per cent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are active on various social media platforms, and you've only got eight seconds to grab the attention of Gen Z. Where millennials prefer Facebook and Twitter, Gen Z’s short attention span is drawn more towards social media platforms like Instagram Stories and Snapchat – where they’re engaging with “disappearing content.” This type of media offers short bursts of impactful graphics or videos that will disappear seconds after being viewed.

Although job boards and LinkedIn are effective traditional sourcing methods, organizations also need to engage Gen Z job seekers on the platforms they prefer and in the way they want to consume the content.

Offer and emphasize robust Learning and Development (L&D) opportunities

One of the biggest employment challenges facing younger workers is skill development for career advancement. New research from LinkedIn Learning finds 76 per cent of Gen Zs believe the skills necessary in today’s workforce are different than ones required of previous generations, and they’re aware their jobs may not exist within the same form 20 years from now.  As such, 84 per cent of Gen Z workers look for an employer to help them develop job-specific skills. However, the younger worker also craves control in how and when they learn, and prefer independent and more bite-size learning experiences. 

This means aside from traditional methods like instructor led learning and stretch assignments, organizations can also engage and empower younger workers through more innovative methods like micro learning. It's also important for organizations to consider training programs for soft skills development. Research from Deloitte suggests that while Gen Z will bring an unprecedented level of tech skills to the workforce, organizational leaders are apprehensive about their interpersonal communication skills, with 84 per cent planning on creating development programs for soft skills like communication, teamwork and time management.

Get behind Micro-Learning

Gen Zs are digital natives -- the first generation to never know a time without instant connectivity, and as such, they expect instant solutions to immediate challenges.

To offer the type of learning and development solutions the next generation worker requires, it’s critical to adapt to the way their shortened attention spans are consuming content. As natural information seekers, Gen Z, on average, multi-tasks across five screens. Sites likes Youtube, Wikipedia and eHow have taught them how to locate the information they need, and this will directly affect how organizations design their eLearning modules. If the information the younger worker wants isn’t clear, concise and available across multiple platforms, Gen Z will most likely lose interest.  An effective method to engage younger workers is with micro-learning modules.

Micro-learning modules are brief bursts of high-quality video content that are easily accessible on both desktops and mobile devices – enabling users to learn at their desk or on a smartphone while in line for a coffee.Each piece of content should be kept to a single learning objective, be under four minutes in length and offer users an opportunity to validate their progress through things like demonstrations, polls and surveys. This type of easily accessible and consumable content taps into Gen Z’s fingertip behaviour.

Go mobile or go home

According to 25 Disruptive Technology Trends, “Generation Z is mobile first and mobile only.” What the internet was to millennials, smartphones are to Gen Z, and they expect to be able to search, apply and upload their resumes though their digital devices. If an organization’s career page can’t do that –or if the career page isn’t mobile responsive – the company can expect to lose 40 per cent of its talent pool. 

In 2018, 95 per cent of Gen Z had a smartphone, and 90 per cent of their text messages were read within the first three minutes of being received. With the younger generation also being less likely to answer an unknown number, it’s crucial for organizations to have a mobile recruitment strategy, or work with an agency who has one, to communicate via text messages or automated text messages when reaching out about current opportunities, confirming interview dates or sending new job alerts.  

Have an authentic brand

Gen Z has been bombarded with ads on screens since they were born, and as such, technology and information overload has made younger workers naturally skeptical of brands – with only 22 per cent trusting what organizations share online. This means it’s critical for organizations to have authenticity in their branding. Do you have any employee testimonials on your website or share snippets of corporate events on your social media pages?

It’s also important to ensure that branding is promoted consistently across all media outlets. Gen Z is the most connected generation engaging on multiple platforms, and may be put off if they see company branding differing from one platform to the next. Organizations also need to monitor their employer branding, yet only 45 per cent are doing so. Websites like Glassdoor allow current and previous employees or contingent workers to anonymously leave reviews about a company they've worked with. It's important to have a dedicated monitor who will review these sites and address any negative input. The appointed monitor should also provide insights into how the organization will address the concern(s). If you've successfully taken the steps to resolve issues, data about trends in your improved reviews will be visible. 

Offer attractive perks and benefits they care about

Better benefits are an unavoidable business expense. Compensation packages that include things like vacation days and health benefits may only be available for full-time employees, however; contingent workers can also receive some workplace perks. 

Benefits like remote work options, Learning & Development opportunities, exciting and impactful project work or the use of new technologies are attractive non-monetary drivers, however; to engage younger workers with better benefits, organizations must first understand their core values. Recent data suggests Gen Zs care most about frugality, social equality, innovation, uniqueness and originality. How can your organization align compensation packages with these motivators?

Create a unique candidate experience

Gen Z is much less likely to do business with or work with a company where they have had a poor experience as a job seeker than previous generations. It's important to identify any holes in your organization's talent acquisition strategy ( non-mobile friendly career pages, low communications, poor onboarding, etc.), and then work towards creating a unique, effortless and relevant candidate experience. This also means utilizing innovative technology, as the new generation worker requires new recruitment tactics like AI, machine learning and analytics to effectively engage.

The first wave of younger talent graduated in 2017, and they’re coming. To harness the massive potential of Gen Z in the workforce, it's imperative to start incorporating the tools and technologies right now.

How is your organization keeping in touch with talent? If you're responsible for your organization's talent acquisition strategy and would like deeper insights into new ways of engaging with qualified talent, download our free whitepaper: What is direct sourcing?

DOWNLOAD WHITE PAPER

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