There is a new kid on the block, going by the name of Gen Z, and employers are scrambling to try and attract the latest tranche of talent to their workplace. Born between 1994 and 2005, Gen Z is another generational grouping for businesses to get to grips with, by asking: what motivates them? What are they looking for in an employer? Will they clash with, or complement, other generations in the workplace?
Whilst the answers remain to be truly seen, we can consider what factors have shaped the lives of Gen Z to date – and help HR professionals to make educated decisions about how to attract and retain the freshest talent on the market.
They are not millennials
For all the “millennial bashing” we see in the media, Gen Z are, so far, being welcomed into the workplace with a more positive tone. Currently, the perception is that they have lived through a recession and witnessed economic uncertainty (so don’t take the good times for granted), university fees have tripled (so they know the value of money and are financially savvy) and have grown up with mobile phones in their hands (and are therefore the true digital natives, that can’t remember a time without the internet). It is this blend of circumstances that is making them attractive to employers, who look to harness their hard-work ethic and technological prowess. But it’s going to take much more than a good brand name to attract and retain them.
Gen Z puts great emphasis on their health and wellbeing – smoking and drinking on average 43% and 33% respectively less than their Gen X counterparts.* They want to work in environments that bolster their wellbeing, rather than be a detriment to it, and value workplaces that support their drive to be healthy.
Businesses that offer a holistic array of benefits – such as nutrition talks, corporate sports days, workplace health checks, smoking-cessation programmes, healthcare and so on – can appeal to Gen Z, as it aligns with their desire to be healthy. Presenting this information upfront can make or break their decision to join a company.
Growing up with technology also has a down-side, with social media in particular being blamed as a contributory factor in poor mental health amongst young people – presenting unobtainable ‘real lives’ through rose-tinted filters and making the consumer feel inadequate. In fact, under-19s are seeking treatment for mental health issues, more so than any previous generation on record.**
With so many negative reports around, highlighting that employees still don’t feel comfortable in talking to their managers about mental health concerns, businesses that can showcase they are actively supporting individuals will appeal to Gen Z. Businesses that can confidently detail the health and wellbeing strategy they have in place, such as managers that have been trained to deal with mental health scenarios and offering employee assistance programmes (EAPs) to individuals in need of confidential advice, can act as a great attraction tool.
With an average eight-second attention span when using digital platforms, businesses don’t have a lot of time to make a good impression with Gen Z.*** That’s why business content must be punchy, accessible and mobile friendly – at the least – to grab their attention. They spend an average of 10.6 hours each day engaging with online content, compared to 6.9 hours for the UK average, so know what good content looks like.****
Displaying employee benefits in a clear and interactive way online can be a great way to engage Gen Z. Whether it is providing health & wellbeing advice, discounts with leading retailers, or fast, easy access to mental health support services – hosting employee benefits in a central location, clearly demonstrating how it can positively impact the individual with engaging content, can help aid take-up with Gen Z.
Gen Z are only just filtering into the workplace, and for many it may be their first full-time role. Businesses should therefore take time to run individuals through their recruitment offering, and highlight how they can support them both in and out of the workplace. By understanding the context in which they grew up, initiatives can be put in place – or tweaked – to ensure that businesses get the best from the Gen Z bunch.
Brett Hill – Managing Director, The Health Insurance Group