For workplaces attempting to keep pace with Millennial workers, the next generation poised to enter the workforce brings a whole new puzzle. Generation Z, born after 1996 (between 1997 and 2012), makes up about one-quarter of the US population. These nearly 70 million young Americans will soon embark on their careers, bringing distinctly new attitudes, expectations, and capabilities.
As digital natives, they bring outstanding technical abilities but also new workplace attitudes and expectations. The shifting generational tides are reshaping today’s workforce landscape. As Millennials cede ground to the rising Generation Z, a new era has dawned. One requiring agile, forward-thinking leaders to evolve their talent strategies or risk being swept away in the tide.
While their arrival may puzzle some organizations accustomed to older Millennials and Gen X, those who successfully adapt to attract, motivate, and retain Gen Z will gain energized talent to propel their business into the future. By fully understanding Gen Z’s values, expectations, and needs, enlightened organizations can capture the promise of this emerging talent cohort.
Challenges in Attracting Gen Z Employees
They Are “Job Hoppers” Seeking Constant Growth
One major obstacle in retaining Gen Z workers is their tendency to frequently switch jobs. According to a recent study, 83% of Gen Z consider themselves “job hoppers,” staying in roles for 2 years or less before seeking new opportunities. What drives this job-hopping behavior? This transient tendency is driven by:
Boredom: Having grown up with constant digital stimulation and entertainment on-demand, Gen Z gets restless easily. They crave new challenges and experiences frequently to stave off boredom.
Learning new skills: By switching roles more often, Gen Z can gain experience across diverse functions and industries. This accumulation of varied skills and capabilities fuels their career advancement.
Fast promotion timelines: Unlike past generations who understood the need to spend several years in roles before promotion, Gen Z wants to move up quicker. They see no need to wait the typical 3-5 years before getting promoted and will move on if they feel stuck.
Hyper-customized experiences: Having grown up ordering fully customized products and content through apps and websites, Gen Z expects the same individual tailoring regarding their career paths and development. They want bespoke training and opportunities.
With job hopping tendencies so pronounced for Gen Z employees, employers must emphasize development, growth, and advancement opportunities during the recruiting process and throughout employment.
They Have Different Work Values and Motivations
While other generations focused predominantly on compensation and status when job seeking, Gen Z employees prioritize:
Work/life balance: Gen Z rejects the concept of rigid work schedules and location requirements. They expect flexibility and integration of their work and personal lives. Unlimited PTO and extensive work-from-home options are hugely attractive.
Inclusion and diversity: Growing up in a period of increasing discussion about equity and justice, Gen Z has very little tolerance for exclusionary cultures and policies. They expect diverse talent and leadership and comprehensive inclusion education.
Ongoing feedback and recognition: Annual or bi-annual reviews are insufficient. They want constant feedback through weekly check-ins, incentive programs, and continuous performance tracking. Self-evaluation processes can also empower Gen Z to reflect on their own development and growth.
Making an impact: As products of the social media era, Gen Z cares deeply about making a visible impact on causes they care about. They want to incorporate this passion for activism and volunteering into their work life.
How to Communicate Best With Gen Z
Gen Z presents challenges in how they prefer to communicate, collaborate, and take in information. They expect real-time digital communication through messaging platforms:
Texting and instant messaging dominate: Email feels “old-fashioned” to Gen Z. They expect workplace communication through chat apps, texts, IMs, and DMs. They may not respond positively to slow email response times from colleagues and leadership.
Consumer apps don’t meet compliance needs: While Gen Z loves connecting via consumer apps like WhatsApp or Snapchat, these apps pose their own compliance risks. Secure enterprise platforms are needed, even if adoption is a little slower due to less convenience and familiarity.
Videoconferencing over in-person meetings: Native video chat abilities mean Gen Z will oftentimes default to video calls over in-person meetings. This enables speed but can impede relationship building.
Social media has limited usefulness: Despite social media’s heavy influence, these platforms can decrease productivity. Their notifications and content feeds foster distraction and fragmented attention spans. While it can be useful for external marketing, internal usage should be managed carefully.
Short-form video and visuals work best: Accustomed to TikTok-style micro-content, Gen Z better absorbs training and communication through brief videos, graphics, and visual formats. Heavy text documents do not have a great amount of appeal.
Strategies and Benefits You Can Offer Gen Z to Retain Their Employment
While Gen Z presents new challenges, they also bring outstanding skills and potential. To attract and unleash their talents, understand and cater to their top priorities.
Onboarding and Upskilling
Once hired, setting Gen Z up for success requires rethinking onboarding and ongoing training. Digital-first, mobile-friendly onboarding is essential for Gen Z. Paperwork should be minimized with e-forms and electronic signatures to speed up administrative setup. An assigned peer mentor helps new hires navigate the organization and understand its culture and unwritten rules. Multimedia onboarding content like brief videos and simulations is more impactful than thick handbooks or lengthy lectures.
What Gen Z seeks:
- Upskilling opportunities to continuously expand their skills.
- Mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals.
- Options to learn cutting-edge tech and business capabilities.
Tactics to provide this:
- Tuition reimbursement or learning stipends to take external training classes and courses.
- Internal mentorship initiatives that partner Gen Z new hires with seasoned employees for coaching and knowledge transfer. Rotational programs across departments also expand skills.
- Microlearning through a video content library with short modules on new capabilities. Quizzes and badges create engagement.
- Guest speaker series with internal senior leaders and experts sharing their insights and career trajectories.
Fostering an Inclusive, Flexible Environment
Workplace culture significantly impacts job satisfaction and retention. Gen Z expects organizations to back up DEI commitments with substantive action, like mandatory unconscious bias training, ERG support, and ensuring representation in leadership and staff.
What Gen Z seeks:
- Equitable hiring and promotion practices. Zero tolerance for discrimination.
- Acceptance of diverse identities and perspectives.
- Leadership accountability for DEI through training and representation.
Tactics to provide this:
- Unbiased hiring rubrics and processes. Review compensation and promotion for parity.
- Employee resource groups (ERGs) supporting communities like Women, LGBTQ+, Veterans, Parents, etc.
- Formal diversity, equity, and inclusion training — make it part of the required learning curriculum.
- Sponsorship, advocacy, and mentorship programs that connect underrepresented talent with executive sponsors.
Flexibility is also essential. Unbendable office-bound schedules and policies strain Gen Z’s desire for work/life integration. Remote or hybrid policies recognizing that productivity isn’t tied to being physically present have strong appeal. Output and ability to collaborate should be the metrics, rather than face time.
How HCM Technology Can Help
While adapting to meet Gen Z's needs may seem challenging, solutions like our HCM platform, isolved, provide the tools to make this transformation achievable. Key benefits include:
AI recruiting: Machine learning algorithms source, rank, and shortlist best-fit Gen Z candidates by resume scanning and skills matching. Removes human bias.
Onboarding automation: Digital welcome kits with multimedia content. E-forms prefill employee data. Workflow automation speeds up administrative tasks.
Learning management: Video learning libraries deliver microlearning and upskilling content. Social features and gamification increase engagement.
Performance management: Continuous performance tracking, OKRs goal setting, and pulse surveys provide frequent feedback.
HR analytics: Insights on engagement, productivity, and attrition risk help refine programs and policies. Evidence-based approach.
With isolved, people programs can be designed around Gen Z values and optimized based on real-time HCM data — creating an environment where they can thrive. While uniquely challenging, attracting and retaining Gen Z talent is mission-critical. Their digital skills, fresh thinking, and social conscience represent tremendous upside for organizations. By assessing and enhancing the employee experience through Gen Z’s lens, your organization can gain motivated, skilled team members to drive the business forward.
ABOUT PLATINUM GROUP
At Platinum Group, we believe supporting people enables organizations to reach their highest potential. As a premier human capital management resource, we provide solutions to streamline critical workflows so you can focus on managing your business. Our team embodies a culture of service, teamwork, and community that we share with each other and our valued clients. Across our Payroll/HR and Accounting divisions, we collaborate to deliver excellence through smart technology and human insight.
If you’re seeking a partner to optimize your most important asset — your people — we’re ready to help. To learn more about empowering your workforce with our solutions, please visit our website or schedule a demo.