How to prepare your company for Generation Z

A new generation is entering the workforce. Generation Z (or Gen Z), those born between 1996 and 2012, makes up around 32% of the world’s population according to Bloomberg, making the oldest members in their early 20s and in the early stages of their careers. Many workplaces will find themselves experiencing many changes as Gen Z employees join, which some commentators believe could lead to the reshaping of entire company cultures. However, if you want to attract Gen Z to your company, there are several things you must consider. Keep reading for our advice on how to prepare your company to welcome Gen Z.

What does Generation Z want in a workplace?

You might be scratching your head and wondering what makes Gen Z different from earlier generations. As the first digital native generation, Gen Z has grown up with a deep understanding of and connection to the world around them, which means they have a distinct set of values that are incredibly influential upon their beliefs about work. These include:

Commitment to social issues

Generation Z is unafraid to share their beliefs about a wide range of social issues. A famous example of this was the school climate strikes of 2019, when over 1.6 million students in 125 countries walked out of their schools and staged protests to raise awareness of climate change. Gen Z is a socially conscious group who want to lead positive change in the world, and they want their employers to do the same. 

A 2019 study from Porter Novelli/Cone found that 90% of Gen Z believe that ‘companies must act to help social and environmental issues’ and that 75% ‘will do research to see if a company is being honest when it takes a stand on issues’. Companies that visibly commit to sustainability and diversity initiatives will be particularly appealing to Gen Z job applicants, as we explain more in our next point.

Valuing diversity

Gen Z is perhaps the most diverse generation currently living, and their social views reflect this. According to research from the BBC, Gen Z is more concerned about issues such as racism, gender equality and prejudice towards LGBTQ+ people than previous generations. Freedom of expression is particularly important to Gen Z, and they will be looking for jobs with employers that accommodate this, as Monster reports that around 83% of Gen Z candidates believe that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer. 

Younger workers are more likely to define diversity as a mix of experiences and identities. This is known as intersectionality, and having diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives that demonstrate an awareness of this will go a long way in attracting Gen Z job candidates to your company. 

Putting communication first

Gen Z is often stereotyped as a phone-obsessed generation who prefer tweeting over talking, but the reality may surprise you. A survey conducted by Yello found that 51% of Gen Zers prefer to communicate face-to-face, with only 25% preferring digital communication. Although they are the first digitally native generation, and have grown up constantly surrounded by technology and social media, Gen Z appreciates face-to-face interactions for their authenticity. 

Additionally, it can be difficult for anyone to convey the correct tone and meaning of a message through text alone, especially for Gen Zers who are just beginning to navigate their way through the professional world. While digital communication is valuable, don’t underestimate the importance of in-person communication as well.

Opportunities to be independent

According to a study by the Workforce Institute, 44% of Gen Z workers want leadership that will ‘listen to their ideas and show they value their opinions’, and 39% want leadership to ‘allow them to work independently’. Although many Gen Z workers might not feel entirely comfortable speaking up in a new job, it’s important to give them opportunities to provide feedback and suggest their own ideas. This will help them to build their confidence and feel like a valued member of the team.

By encouraging your Gen Z employees to think and act independently, you are demonstrating your trust in their abilities. This can help strengthen your professional relationship with them and encourage them to step out of their comfort zone even more. Allow room for mistakes, as these are all part of the learning process, and provide regular feedback. Your Gen Z employees will appreciate being given space to learn and develop their skills, while having you available as a mentor when needed.

This list is by no means exhaustive – there are many other traits that Gen Z value in the workplace, but these are just some of the most important qualities they will be looking for in a potential employer. Take the time to evaluate if and how your company meets these expectations, and what you may need to adapt in response. With this in mind, here are some suggestions for ways you can improve your company processes to ensure you are best prepared to welcome Gen Z into your workplace. 

How to prepare your company for Generation Z

There are several easy ways to both make your company attractive to Gen Z jobseekers, and to keep them as happy and fulfilled employees. These include:

Training your managers 

The generation gap between your newer, Gen Z employees and your more senior Millenial or Gen X staff could become problematic if not addressed early on. David and Jonah Stillman, a father and son duo, studied Gen Z’s working habits for over a year, and their research found that Gen Z are a much more realistic generation than their predecessors. Growing up in the wake of international upheaval, such as the Great Recession, has caused them to develop an entrepreneurial but individualistic mindset. David says that: ‘the differences between millennials and Gen Z are so vast […] that I would be putting a lot of my attention in training the frontline managers’.

Embrace the independent nature of Gen Z by encouraging your managers to adopt a coaching, rather than a managing approach, as Culture Amp explains. Regular feedback, appraisal, and recognition of their work is key to building strong, healthy working relationships with this new generation of your workforce. Keep an open mind and be prepared to give some gentle guidance when needed, but encouraging experimentation and risk-taking will help build confidence and put your Gen Z workers in good stead for the years to come. 

Adjusting your hiring process

If you want to hire Gen Z employees, you need to go where they are, and that means having an active social media presence. Gen Z spends a whopping 10 hours a day engaging with online content, so you have to find a way to make your company stand out from the crowd. Having consistent and authentic employer branding across your social media pages is a great way to capture a jobseeker’s attention, and improve your passive recruitment strategy, as we have previously discussed on our blog here

However, having a pretty Instagram feed or some funny Tiktok videos won’t be enough to seal the deal. You also need to make sure that you are offering Gen Z candidates attractive and realistic benefits – dress down Fridays and office ping pong tables are fun perks, but Gen Z will want a job that will benefit both them and their careers in the long run. According to HRD Connect, one of the key things that Gen Z candidates look for in a role is career stability alongside continued development and recognition, so the wording of your job adverts and descriptions needs to emphasize these traits in order to have the strongest appeal. Check out our blog for some more detailed advice on how to write a winning job description.

Providing training opportunities

As previously mentioned, Gen Z is a fiercely independent generation that thrives when left to their own devices. However, they are also very invested in their career development, and want to make the most of any learning or training opportunities that are available to them. Their entrepreneurial attitude can make up for a lack of formal work experience, and as long as your company is willing and able to invest time and resources into training, they will more than appreciate being given this room to develop. 

According to LinkedIn, Gen Z values independence more than collaboration, unlike millennials who have led the way for workplace messaging systems like Slack and Zoom to take precedence. Even factors such as office layout can have an impact on Gen Z’s productivity; the Stillmans also found that Gen Z generally prefers having their own private working spaces. Jonah says that ‘collaborative Millennials have pushed for the open office concept where they can all work together [but] Gen Z’s independent nature doesn’t work in an open office’. Therefore, giving Gen Z room to work independently may very well be a literal requirement as well.

Final thoughts

It might be easy to treat Gen Z with a ‘one size fits all’ approach, but if you do this, you will be ignoring the unique differences and strengths of each candidate or employee. Whether you’re in the interview stage or onboarding a new Gen Z worker, make the time to fully understand each individual’s personality and needs, and learn what works best for them as an individual. By showing respect and trust throughout the process, you will certainly give your Gen Z employees a great introduction into the working world. 

One way that Generation Z is entering the workforce is through the government’s Kickstart scheme, an initiative to get 16 to 24 year olds into work and developing their employability skills, all at no cost to your company! Visit our website here to find out how TalentSpa can help you get started, or call us on 0203 816 0508 today. 

gen z, recruitment