Already feeling short-staffed and wary of pending resignations from your team? The Great Reshuffle may become the new norm as a younger generation enters the workforce. Sixty-five percent of Gen Z employees plan to quit their job this year, according to data from talent acquisition platform Lever. That’s higher than the 40% of overall employees who plan to leave their post in 2022.
Failing to adapt to Generation Z, which includes people born between 1997 and 2012, can leave your company in a pinch. That becomes especially important as these young employees comprise a larger portion of the labor force. By 2025, Gen Z will make up 27% of the total workforce, according to data from the World Economic Forum.
So what does this generation actually want? Here are three initiatives that can help you attract Gen Z employees and build a compelling culture to retain young talent.
1. Create a Flexible Office Environment
Mandated return-to-office policies have already caused workers across generations to groan. Gen Z is especially disillusioned with long commutes and inflexibility. Especially for pandemic-era graduates, many have adjusted to remote and hybrid forms of education and are looking for ways to build a balanced life through flexible work.
ADP research found 64% of the overall workforce said they would consider a job search if asked to return to an office full-time. The number who would seek a new position rose to 71% among 18- to 24-year-old employees.
“If you’re hoping to attract the attention of more Gen Z applicants, then offer a hybrid work model,” says Lindsay McCormick, founder and CEO of Bite, a sustainable consumer goods company. “This generation appreciates the opportunity for flexibility and independent working conditions.”
McCormick explains that Bite has set specific in-office days for meetings and staying in the loop. Outside of those specific dates, employees can choose when they come into the office and how frequently. Other days are designated for remote work that can be done anywhere with a good Wi-Fi connection. She considers this a “workcation,” allowing for employees to work away from home and strike a work-life balance.
“Providing flexibility for your employees, of any age group, allows them to better balance work with other responsibilities and feel more engaged when they’re on the clock,” she says.
A hybrid office with in-person development opportunities may prove most compelling. Some Gen Z workers crave face time with their colleagues and guidance from in-person mentors, says Jason Dorsey, president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, a research and consulting firm that studies different generations’ workplace behavior.
“I think there’s a surprising number of [younger workers] who will say, ‘I want the opportunity to go into the office at least a few days a week so I can build those connections and learn those skills,’” he says.
2. Build Social Responsibility Programs to Create a Sense of Purpose
Gen Z employees are more likely to be politically engaged, socially conscious and concerned about their future. These employees are looking for fulfilling roles at organizations with corporate social responsibility embedded in their ethos. Almost two-thirds (63%) of Gen Z feel it is very or extremely important to work for an employer that shares their values, according to data from consulting firm EY. In a future job or career, 39% of Gen Z prioritize work that they feel makes a difference in the world.
“Businesses must think carefully about corporate social responsibility in the modern environment as it is the only opportunity to entice Generation Z,” says Elena Jones, of financial advice and planning company Finance Jar. “This generation appears to distrust companies because they came of age during the Great Recession and witnessed its repercussions for their family members. As a result, Generation Z would only benefit [support] businesses they believe are ethically aware.”
That’s especially true for diversity and inclusion initiatives, as Gen Z is the most diverse generation in the U.S.’s history — in terms of race, orientation and gender identity. When recruiting Gen Z employees, Finance Jar founder Elena Jones emphasizes social consciousness and diverse hiring initiatives.
Not sure where to start? Take the time to define your company’s commitment to social responsibility and craft a mission statement that encompasses employee values. Once you’ve determined the environmental, social and governance areas where your company can have an impact, your team can craft programs to demonstrate your commitment.
3. Create Professional Development Opportunities
While millennials before them enjoyed the in-office perks like cold brew on tap and bean bag chairs, Gen Z employees are looking for a culture beyond in-person perks. This includes personal development programs, career training, academic grants and employee resource groups where they can find community at work. According to data published by LinkedIn, 76% of Gen Z employees see learning as the key to their career advancement.
Professional development programs range from traditional mentorships, where employees with more experience guide more junior workers, to training courses. Some companies, like Paymerang, offer opportunities for latter development, where people can learn a new skill set then transition to a different part of the organization.
Theodore Klein, managing partner at organizational-development consulting firm Boston Strategy Group, recommends Applied Improvisation (AIM) programs for attracting Gen Z employees. AIM programs adapt traditional improv techniques from music and stage performances for a non-theatrical setting. In the business world, these programs focus on active listening skills, developing respect for different perspectives, diminishing organizational silos and boosting employee self-esteem.
Remember: As Gen Z graduates college and enters the workforce, this is the first time in an office or hybrid work environment for many. If your team spends time in an office, host in-person training where these employees feel empowered to ask questions and talk through work responsibilities outside of a Zoom screen.
How is your company engaging Gen Z? Reply to share.