With more than 40 percent of U.S. workers engaged in contingent work and Generation Z poised to enter the workforce in greater numbers this year, recruiters must be prepared to adapt the way they attract talent to the changing economic landscape.
In part, that means recruiters must be willing to leave some of their old ways behind when trying to attract a new breed of worker. When recruiting virtual workers, the process is different from filling a physical position and should be treated as such, says Tricia Sciortino, chief operating officer at virtual staffing firm BELAY Solutions.
“The interview process is probably one of the biggest differences,” Sciortino explains. “While working remotely seems appealing to many people, it’s not for everyone. People must be extremely disciplined, self-motivated, and focused. It’s easy to get distracted by all the things that need to get done around the home, and [it is] hard to set boundaries around your work schedule. It can feel very lonely and isolating at times. It’s more important to hone in on the type of person you are interviewing from a personality/culture fit than just skill set and experience alone.”
Recruiting the Next Generation
Not only do recruiters have to deal with virtual workers, they also have to get to know Gen. Z.
Millennials are now firmly established in the workforce, and recruiters have begun to gain more thorough understandings of their wants and needs. However, the newest waves of workers are starting to come from Gen. Z, which is marked by its interest in the gig economy and the freedom that comes with it.
“Gen. Z seems to be all about the gig economy, and they put flexibility at the top of their must-have list when looking for a job,” Sciortino says. “Social media and smartphones have always existed with this generation, and they will not likely part with [those things], even during their workdays.”
As Gen. Z starts trickling into the workforce, companies will have to “reevaluate where project and contract work can be performed and how to market to those individuals,” Sciortino says.
“If long-term fits are still necessary, they will need to find ways to gain loyalty amongst a group who enjoys the freedom to bounce from job to job on their own terms,” she continues. “Start by taking a look at your comprehensive benefit package. It’s not just about the paycheck anymore.”
Gen. Z really prizes flexibility – the ability to do a job from anywhere at any time. Gen. Z-ers also prefer employers that are socially responsible, in terms of supporting communities, offering innovative benefits, and doing purposeful work.
But for all we know about Gen. Z, recruiters haven’t totally cracked the generation’s code just yet.
“There is still a lot we have to learn about this generation and what their impact will be on the workforce,” Sciortino says. “It will be important to research and study how they evolve in the coming years.”
Managing a Virtual Workforce
While the management of physical workers and the management of virtual workers are similar in many ways, there are some important differences to be noted. Sciortino recommends that managers of virtual employees focus on the following areas:
- Trust: “You cannot see what your employees are doing, how they are doing, or when they are doing. Learn to fill the gap with trust.”
- Communication: “It’s easy for things to get lost in translation or misunderstood over email. Managers must be extremely intentional about connecting with their teams and employees often. We recommend using video in order to have engaging conversations with an increased level of understanding. … It also forces both parties to be present and not multitasking during meetings. Read written communication through the lens of ‘good intentions.’”
- Technical Savvy: “Working virtually requires the use of technology. Make sure you and your team learn how to use different apps and tools that increase efficiencies in the workplace.”
- Metrics: “Have metrics and goals in place to help measure success and productivity.”
- Retention: “Employers can include virtual work as part of their retention efforts. Companies can try letting physical employees work at home a couple of days per week. Large projects or overtime could be performed at home.”
- Open-mindedness: “Be open to new ideas and ways of operating. Think about hosting pilot programs for remote working concepts. Remember that success will increase happiness and potential across the workforce.”