What Companies Need to Know About Generation Z

Ginger Dhaliwal

Millennials have long been the focus of employers. But there’s a new generation in town and they’re about to shake up everything you thought you knew about how to attract and retain talent.

With the youngest millennials now finishing college and the oldest nearing 40, it’s time to think about how marketing and recruitment strategies will need to change to appeal to the next generation of workers: Gen Z.

Who Is Generation Z?

Generation Z (roughly, those born from 1995 to 2010) has never known a world without the internet. (Let that sink in.) Yes, technology has been a part of their lives since birth, from the smartwatches they use to make calls from the playground to the rise of YouTube as both entertainment and search.

Aside from their impressive digital mastery, Gen Z is also racially and ethnically diverse and more apt to accept societal change.

As Pew Research Center notes, “Generation Z — diverse and on track to be the most well-educated generation yet — is moving toward adulthood with a liberal set of attitudes and an openness to emerging social trends.”

But what does this mean for employers? Gen Z won’t be motivated, inspired, or recruited by the same things as millennials.

Inclusivity Will Be Front and Center

From your application process to employee recognition and rewards, your company must exemplify an inclusive mindset.

“It is clear that diversity will be one of the defining attributes of Gen Z,” says The Atlantic. “And this diversity transcends race, gender, and sexual orientation.”

Here’s how you can create a more inclusive workplace:

  • Consider revamping applications and company forms that ask to define a person’s gender. 59% of Gen Zers believe there should be more options than “man” and “woman” on forms.
  • Avoid gender-specific incentives or rewards that could alienate employees.
  • Update applications and company onboarding materials to accommodate gender inclusive pronouns: he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/their.

A Socially-Responsible Mission Will Be Crucial

Gen Z wants more out of a company than a paycheck. “They won’t be satisfied with “busy” work; they’ll want to make a difference. In fact, 60% want to make a difference in the world,” notes The Predictive Index.

Whether your product is changing lives directly or you offer regular paid time off for volunteering, Gen Z will seek out companies that make a positive impact on the world.

Companies Will Live and Die by Online Reviews

As the most hyperconnected generation to date, Gen Z relies on reviews for everything from making a purchase to deciding where to apply for a job.

“Gen Zers actively monitor employee reviews on job-search websites and pay close attention to how companies are ranked,” explains The Predictive Index. “They typically won’t consider working for low-ranking companies or those peppered with negative reviews.”

If you don’t already have a brand reputation strategy in place, now’s the time to start:

  • Monitor sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Great Place to Work on a weekly basis.
  • Invest in social monitoring tools so you can quickly find and respond to company mentions.
  • Respond to both positive and negative reviews to show prospective and current employees you care and actively monitor reviews.
  • Seeing trends in feedback? Use it to make your workplace better.

Workplace Flexibility Will Be the Norm

A true work/life balance will no longer be considered a “perk” by Gen Z — it’ll be a necessity if you want to attract top talent.

Here are two tips to make this happen at your workplace:

  • Offer flexible start/end times that can be adjusted to fit Gen Zers’ lives.
  • Include remote work options for all employees.

Something interesting to note about Gen Z is that while they expect remote work options, they also crave in-person interaction.

“Unlike millennial employees who prefer digital communication such as email and Slack, 53% of Gen Z chooses face-to-face communication,” notes The Predictive Index.

It’s because of this that companies will want to offer both remote and in-house employees the ability to work from coworking spaces. They’ll get the personal interaction and collaboration they desire, as well as the independence and flexibility that location variety provides.

Smart Technology Is a Must

Gen Z learns and socializes through technology, which is why you’ll want to make sure it’s up to speed at your workplace.

  • Invest in video onboarding and training for new employees instead of relying on documents.
  • Use employee-recognition tools like Bonus.ly or Woo Board to create a strong culture of recognition for in-house and distributed employees.
  • Integrate the use of apps to help employees manage their schedules, share companywide information, and deepen coworker relationships.

Preparing for Gen Z

Gen Z will expect more from their employers and will hold them publicly accountable for their actions. (Read: angry tweets and scathing online reviews.) This is why a shift in marketing and recruitment strategies — and even your company’s mission — may need to occur.

By putting an emphasis on employee satisfaction, inclusivity, and flexibility, you’ll create a workplace and culture that naturally attracts Gen Z employees. (And remains appealing to millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers, too.)