Each generation likes to think it's unique, but even a casual observer can see that the world of work has changed a lot in the last ten to 15 years. In particular, Generation Z – loosely defined as those born between 1997 and 2012 – often have quite different expectations from work and their careers than those who have gone before them.
If your business wants to attract and retain staff in this demographic, that means taking some time to understand what interests them and adapting recruitment strategies and workplace culture accordingly.
So what does this cohort expect from work, and what's the best way to compromise on meeting their expectations without creating unnecessary rules or processes? Probably the single most significant characteristic of Generation Z is that these people expect a good work-life balance – they're not afraid of working hard, but they expect there to be a solid line between work and home.
They prefer to do work with meaning, or at least to understand how what they do fits in to a bigger picture. They're interested in personal development and want to know how working with you and your company will contribute to their skill set and experience.
They place a strong premium on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and they expect the places they work to mirror the values that they believe should be present in society. And for many companies, one of the most noticeable differences between younger and more experienced staff is going to be attitudes to technology.
Generation Z is the first cohort of people to grow up entirely in a digital world. Unlike their seniors, they have never known a world that wasn't heavily dependent on technology and the internet, and as a result they are highly tech-savvy.
So even if your company isn't an actual technology company, it's still a good idea to think about how technology is used in your workplace. If you're not already making the most of collaboration tools and technology platforms that allow staff to work more efficiently, then this is an area worth looking at.
Every industry sector is different, and every company has its own way of doing things, so what matters is making sure systems are optimised for the way people want to work today, and are not limited by how you did things in the past. Demonstrating a commitment to working with technology will not only attract Gen-Z talent but also enhance productivity and innovation within your company.
Gen-Z members value career growth and development and want to feel like they are working in ways that make a difference. Being able to show how working with you will give them a chance to learn, acquire new skills and progress is hugely attractive.
Putting this message at the forefront of your recruitment efforts is a good idea. Show a clear career advancement path within your organization and highlight any mentorship programs or training initiatives you can give access to. Can you show examples of how others have applied themselves and progressed within your company? If so, that's hugely valuable as a recruitment message.
Everybody likes to feel valued, regardless of generation, and for this cohort knowing that they work with a company that shares their values is important. Company culture can be a decisive factor for many younger people who want to work in places that have a positive company culture that prioritises diversity, inclusion, and work-life balance.
It’s been shown repeatedly that having an open and transparent work environment where employees feel valued, respected and heard contributes to greater levels of productivity. Good ways to help foster this kind of environment are to encourage collaboration, reward innovation, and even to spend time on team-building activities and cross-departmental projects.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Generation Z was already firmly in favour of the idea of flexible working and while most companies have returned to the office at least partially, the ability to allow remote working is a key perk in the eyes of younger people.
Being up front about offering remote work or flexible working options can be a significant draw for this generation. Flexible work policies that allow employees to balance their personal and professional lives suit many people -- not just younger people -- so if your working model can accommodate it, this is something you should look seriously at.
Gen-Z has a strong sense of social responsibility, and its members want to work for companies that actively contribute to society and the environment. To help attract them, make sure your public-facing websites and social media channels highlight a commitment to sustainability, social impact initiatives and corporate social responsibility programs.
If you can, share stories and company news that demonstrates your dedication to making a positive difference in the world. If people are interested in working with you, then the first thing they will do is look at how you present yourself to the world and find out what people say about you.
Word of mouth is hugely powerful, but sometimes companies squander opportunities to present their best face to the world, simply by forgetting how compelling their own stories can be. Social media can be a great way to demonstrate the values you hold and so LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok are platforms you should have an active presence on.
Engage with Gen Z on these platforms, respond to their comments and actively participate in relevant conversations. Authentic and transparent employer branding that reflects the reality of the work environment is the most powerful advocate you can have.
Looking after your employees
Discover your responsibilities as an Irish employer under the new Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023, including requirement to offer up to five days paid leave to those affected by domestic violence.