British army leans into Gen Z, millennial stereotypes in $600M recruiting campaign
- The British army wants young people between the ages of 16 and 25 who consider themselves "binge gamers," "unfocused office pranksters" or "me me me millennials." The U.K. Ministry of Defense put out this call for military service as part of a new multiyear, $600 million advertising campaign, according to National Public Radio (NPR), which reported that the British army is understaffed and looking to fill a recruitment gap.
- Major Gen. Paul Nanson said in a statement that the British army wants to dismiss negative stereotypes about Gen Z and their predecessors, millennials, by using posters, video and radio ads to rebrand them as compassionate, focused and confident, instead of self-centered, phone-obsessed and hooked on selfies. The ads feature gender diverse and racially diverse people.
- "We understand the drive [young people] have to succeed and recognize their need for a bigger sense of purpose in a job where they can do something meaningful," Nanson said in a statement. But according to NPR, British politicians charged the ads with humiliating young people, and one official said the stereotypes about young people were accurate and not the kind of characteristics the army should want in a recruit.
Millennials are the largest group in the labor market, and fast on their heels is Gen Z. Employers — including the military — naturally want to bring these groups onboard and are even trying creative ways to do so, from "snaplications" to curious perks.
While the British army is leaning into stereotypes to make a point, recruiters must ensure that their talent acquisition strategy is absent of any stereotyping in order to obtain a truly diverse workforce. Employers in an Allegis Group study said they’re struggling to attract Gen Z and millennials because they can’t offer the incentives these groups want. But this study and others show that the benefits these groups find most appealing also appeal to some members of other generations. Flexible work schedules, clear career paths, well-being programs, diversity and inclusion, frequent and immediate performance feedback, paid time off, and corporate social responsibility rank high among millennials and Gen Zers — and have obvious benefits for the whole workforce.
Talent professionals are worried that Gen Z will provide some new challenges. A 2017 APPrise Mobile study, for example, showed that a third of employers fear that Gen Z will be harder to manage than other generations thanks to issues with communication, training and impacts on company culture. The new year may be a key time to take stock of talent management policies to ensure the company is ready for young people entering the workforce.