Born between 1995 and 2010, Gen. Z-ers have never known a time without advanced technology and social media. Many of them grew up watching their families struggle through the Great Recession and its aftermath. Taken together, these two facts can explain a lot about Gen. Z’s unique position in society and the workplace.
Here are the top three things Gen. Z-ers are looking for in a job, and some advice on how you can give them what they want:
1. Equality-Focused Cultures
One of the most important things on a Gen. Z candidate’s mind is equality, and they’re looking for employers who have comprehensive diversity and inclusion initiatives in place. In fact, a recent survey found that 36 percent of Gen. Z-ers feel equality is an important cause their employers should support. No other causes in the survey received as much support from respondents.
As it turns out, diversity and inclusion won’t just help your company attract Gen. Z talent — they will also boost overall organizational performance. For example, a 2016 Gallup report found that companies with high levels of gender diversity and employee engagement perform 46-58 percent better financially than companies with below average levels of diversity and engagement. In short, there’s no reason not to prioritize diversity and inclusion.
And yet, 41 percent of executives claim they’re “too busy” to implement structured, formal diversity and inclusion initiatives. Gen. Z-ers don’t think this is a good excuse. Meeting the expectations of the next generation of talent means employers must make time to build, enforce, and market inclusive company cultures.
2. Opportunities for Advancement
Some employees are comfortable with stagnant careers in which they never take on more responsibility than they receive on day one.
Gen. Z-ers are definitely not those employees.
When you consider that two-thirds of Gen. Z-ers say their goal is to “make it to the top of their profession,” it becomes clear that offering opportunities for advancement is key to attracting and retaining this generation of talent. In fact, Gen. Z puts so much importance on professional advancement that 83 percent of them will job hop until they find a company where they feel they can achieve their goals.
Your retention rates of Gen. Z employees will be incredibly low unless you have a promotional structure in place for them, replete with clearly communicated opportunities for learning and development.
One of the best ways to offer career-pathing options to Gen. Z-ers is to support their schooling. Send them to professional development classes where they can earn certifications, or offer tuition reimbursement so they can go keep pursuing educational opportunities throughout their careers. Of course, your company also needs clear paths to promotion where Gen. Z-ers can put their new skills to work.
3. Generous Benefits Packages
A standard benefits package with medical, dental, vision, and a 401(k) is nice, but Gen. Z is asking for even more.
While Gen. Z-ers may still be young, they are also planners. As such, they’re particularly concerned with parental leave policies. For companies to really stand out to these workers, they need to offer generous leave packages for parents of any gender.
Many Gen. Z-ers have also piled up significant amounts of student loan debt, so they’re likely to find student loan repayment and other forms of financial support quite attractive. Only 4 percent of organizations currently offer student loan repayment benefits, which makes this perk an easy way to stand out from the crowd.
Ready or not, Gen. Z is coming, and they will someday soon completely dominate the workforce. It is time for employers to plan for how they will compete for this emerging segment of the talent market. Supporting diversity and inclusion, offering opportunities for advancement, and providing generous benefits packages that go above and beyond standard offerings are three ways employers can start to attract the attention of Gen. Z applicants today.
Matt Thomas is president of WorkSmart Systems.