- Employers looking to recruit Generation Z will need to take into account its members' views on issues ranging from mental health and basic needs insecurity to diversity and inclusion, analysts at EY said in a summary of findings from the firm's survey of 1,509 Generation Z members conducted between March and April 2021.
- These issues were particularly impacted by the pandemic, per the study. For example, 67% said they were moderately to extremely worried about their physical and mental health, with more than half of women reporting that they felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic. Additionally, 69% of respondents worried about running out of food.
- With respect to their work, 63% of respondents said they felt it was very or extremely important to work for an employer that shared their values, and 69% said they prioritized enjoying their work. EY advised employers to consider authenticity and trust in planning to hire and retain Gen Z workers, noting that the generation "sniffs out inauthenticity with ease."
The pandemic has presented a roller coaster of a job market to younger workers. For much of 2020, U.S. workers and job seekers ages 16 to 24 faced higher unemployment rates compared to those older than them. The turmoil of the early pandemic market prompted workers of all ages to reconsider their careers and seek changes, ranging from better work-life balance and enhanced safety protocols to higher pay and job security.
EY's findings about Generation Z values are identical to what other research has found. For instance, a May survey conducted by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the International Federation of Accountants found Generation Z respondents valued workplaces that prioritized mental health and fostered authenticity.
When engaging this generation on issues such as mental health, however, access to care is not the only element on which employers can focus. Managerial training can help supervisors identify when employees may be going through difficult times, and workloads can be adjusted to prevent unnecessary burnout.
EY also identified certain sentiments employers might convey in their recruiting to further appeal to younger workers. The firm said 45% of Generation Z respondents reported being very or extremely likely to start their own business in the future, and 44% said they were more interested in starting a business since the pandemic began. This entrepreneurial approach to work could help industries that currently struggle with attracting younger workers, but that carry with them the opportunity for employees to define their own career trajectories, such as construction.
Furthermore, it may be natural for employers to lean into diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives as a way of appealing to a diverse pool of young talent. But such efforts may need to incorporate aspects of DEI beyond protected characteristics. According to a February 2020 report by Alexander Mann Solutions, Generation Z holds a broad view of diversity that includes elements such as lifestyle, culture and political thinking — a valuing of different perspectives that one observer identified as "cognitive diversity."