Attracting talent is a task on the top of HR professionals' to-do lists these days. Job seekers, particularly young workers, know their worth, and they're looking for organizations that know it as well — so to attract talent, opportunity has to be obvious, both in the short-term and the long-term.
Gen Zers are typically classified as those born in or after 1996. Tech savvy and values-driven, these workers seek out transparency and clear career progression from their future employers, various experts have said. To attract and retain Gen Zers, Susan Hanold, VP Strategic Advisory Services at ADP, suggested that recruiters should work alongside their L&D colleagues to see success.
"Learning and professional development can play a key part in attracting Gen Z," she said in an email. "Gen Z is a digital generation with an entrepreneurial mindset."
What does Gen Z want?
Hanold offered three expectations Gen Z holds when it comes to learning:
- They expect digital learning tools to be deeply integrated into their education.
- They want learning tools available, on-demand and with low barriers to access. "For them, learning isn't limited to just the classroom," she said. "It's something that can take place at anytime, anywhere."
- Learning also needs to enable their self-reliant and career-driven bend, Hanold noted; "In fact, 13% of Gen Zers already have their own business," she said.
Gen Z employees care about real responsibility, meaningful work and opportunities for growth, Carla Carsenzuola, HR director at Kahoot!, told HR Dive in an email: "If companies demonstrate to them that they are willing to invest in their advancement and skill development through training initiatives, that is a big incentive for them to join and stay."
Gen Z workers are also looking to learn skills that will help them advance in their career and make a societal impact.
"This new wave of talent prioritizes work environments that offer opportunities for career advancement and out-of-the-box benefits," Lane Greever, senior vice president at Modis, told HR Dive in an email. Competitive wages are an expected component of a job offer, "so we're seeing more and more employers getting creative in their offerings in order to appeal to top talent," he added. In addition to work-life balance perks like flex hours and remote work, employers are using upskilling opportunities to attract and retain potential applicants and workers.
How do they want it?
Gen Z put a premium on flexibility to learn in the way that works best for them, and they prefer options to choose from so that their learning can be personalized. "[Members of] Gen Z are not passive learners," she said. "They tend to be more career-focused earlier on in their college careers."
Greever recommended a proactive approach, suggesting that hiring managers need to make discussions around advancement commonplace within the workforce. Organizational leadership can internally highlight opportunities to advance and upskill throughout the company, he added.
"Companies must show that they care about their employees' futures and are willing to invest in them," he said. "Offering upskilling and learning opportunities shows them that you see their potential and want them to succeed."
Not only does Gen Z want to learn and grow rapidly; they want methodologies they are comfortable with such as apps, gamified learning tools and videos. Sixty-two percent of trainers in a recent Kahoot! EdTrends Report said that Gen Z employees prefer using mobile apps for training, and nearly half said Gen Z prefers online tools.
Making opportunity obvious
An employer's brand should boast chances for growth at every opportunity, experts said. Career pages should highlight education and advancement and social media should applaud individual employee achievement and growth. Gen Z will do their due diligence: if your brand isn't one of growth and development, they'll quickly move on, Hanold noted.
"It's never too early to start planning for an employee's future," Greever said. "Chances are, the most driven candidates and employees will already be thinking about it during the first interview."
The right time to talk about the future is during the first conversation, Hanold said. "Throughout the process, threading a consistent message is key; therefore, job opportunities discussed at the time of recruitment and during the first interview need to be available during the onboard." Once hired, managers should focus on the employee's strengths during one-on-one meetings so they can successfully work toward meeting goals, she added.
Managers should consistently communicate that they realize their workers' potential and that they are committed to helping their workers develop the skills to reach new milestones in their career, Greever added.
"We talk about our culture, professional development and perks in the initial phase of our recruitment process," Carsenzuola said. "We think the earlier we do that the better it is to create more engagement from the candidate's side."
Keeping the train on track
Leaders play an important role in encouraging young workers to think about their long-term career, Hanold said, so mentorships are key. To keep new hires engaged and motivated during their first year, outline a clear linear career path for entry-level recruits so they understand where they will start, what short term goals to meet, skills they will acquire through onboarding and where new hires tend to end up in a year. A good way to demonstrate this is to showcase new hire alumni and their successes, she added.