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Solving the Gen Z Puzzle: How to Recruit the New Wave of Talent

by Caragh Cheesman June 12, 2024
Colourful post-its on a bulletin board with one stating Gen Z

Gen Z is quickly moving from the new kids on the block to an integral part of the workforce and will represent more than a quarter of employees by 2025. This generation will soon have a larger slice of the corporate pie and is sure to shake up businesses for good - but recruiting this new wave of talent is no easy task.

For Gen Z, the rule book is thrown out the window. In fact, LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting Report 2024 states that hiring and retaining this generation will be one of the biggest challenges facing talent teams in the next five years. So, how do we tap into this new talent pool and ensure that Gen Z is a priority in hiring strategies?

Recruiters and HR professionals must acknowledge the unique skill set of this generation and tune into Gen Z’s new ways of working. Discover what attracts Gen Z employees to a company, and what employers need to do to hire and retain this generation for years to come.

What skills do Gen Z bring to the workforce?

Unlike those who came before them, Gen Z employees are true tech natives. Born between 1997 and 2012, this age group grew up in an internet-enabled era dominated by technological advancements. Just the next age bracket along, Millennials remember having to head down to Blockbuster to grab the latest releases and call friends on their landlines. Gen Z, however, is the first generation that considers streaming the norm and has grown up with a mobile phone, always to hand, firmly in the age of social media. 

This gives Gen Z a unique and intuitive tech mindset, able to get up to speed with new devices and programs faster than others and help other generations that may be less tech-savvy. Take new leaps in the world of AI as an example. With new developments and uses constantly streaming into workplaces, Gen Z employees are perfectly placed to harness the power of AI and to extract its true value at work. This generation’s innate ability to embrace new technology and use it as a tool to boost efficiency sets them apart from older generations.

“Your age and time spent in a role do not necessarily mean that your input is less valuable. I think that Gen Z brings a lot of energy and fresh perspectives to the workplace as we’re always learning new things! It’s the quality of experience, ideas and an employee’s potential that truly matter.” 

Gen Z Account Executive at B2B SaaS company

Gen Z employees think, and act, differently at work. Not afraid to make their voices heard, they provide an often much-needed alternative perspective on existing operations and challenge the status quo. Not only can Gen Z advise on innovative digital tools or tech-driven improvements but this generation also offers a direct insight into the needs and preferences of younger audiences. For instance, this vital talent pool prioritises diversity and inclusion, reflecting this in their approach to work.

“Gen Z has great emotional intelligence. We’ve grown up witnessing huge social movements like #MeToo and are advocates for mental health awareness, so we’re passionate about fair treatment and inclusivity. Because of this, we make lovely coworkers and managers!” 

Gen Z Economist, Department for Work and Pensions

Gen Z expectations and new ways of working

Gen Z has grown up in a culture of immediacy. With the ability to order anything they want at short notice on Amazon and Uber, alongside affordable sites that offer just about everything, such as Temu, Gen Z’s expectations of lifestyle are high. Their expectations of employers are no exception, either. 

"I'm looking for a company with a good work-life balance, collegiate culture, flexible/ remote working and structured opportunities for career progression."

Gen Z Consultant in a Professional Services firm

Not willing to be a cog in the corporate machine, Gen Z employees demand more from their employers. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. These expectations manifest themselves in ways that could benefit organisations from the bottom up and create better working environments for all.

Work-life balance is a number one priority

  • Whilst prepared to work smart and hard, Gen Z recognises the value of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. These employees can prove to be more well-rounded as a result, capable of detaching themselves from work and prioritising their own physical and mental health. This generation expects employers to respect boundaries and demands more flexibility for remote and hybrid working.

Working with a purpose

Looking to progress, and fast 

  • Working for a company that offers professional development is critical for Gen Z. Fresh to the workforce, this generation expects employers to provide adequate training and upskilling opportunities to help them along their career path. Organisations that fail to offer learning and progression will have limited success attracting and retaining Gen Z candidates.

Talent acquisition in 2024 and beyond

What attracts Gen Z candidates?

Trying to bring in Gen Z employees can be a struggle for many organisations - especially when long tenures are seemingly a thing of the past. Happy to switch jobs and companies regularly if their expectations are not met, it’s crucial that employers catch Gen Z when they can.

Improving your employee value proposition to include Gen Z expectations is a must. When there are so many great benefits to choose from when scouting for jobs, employers need to ensure that they can stand out from the crowd by providing a professional environment where Gen Z can thrive. A competitive compensation package is a given, additional workplace benefits must be more creative and go beyond pure finance to attract this talent pool. 

“I expect my employer to respect my work-life balance and be flexible when it comes to working arrangements. They need to listen when I tell them my goals and support me to get there.” 

Gen Z Economist, Department for Work and Pensions

Think about providing days off for volunteering, blocking a certain number of hours a week for learning and development, and giving the now vital flexibility of hybrid or remote working. Sustainability and ethical practices also go a long way with Gen Z, so employers must ensure that ESG targets and progress are transparent to attract these candidates. 

Ultimately, this generation is looking for a company with an authentic brand that matches their personal values and cares about the same topics. Consider your recruitment strategy to be more like a matchmaking service rather than a traditional hiring process to attract Gen Z employees.

Gen Z recruitment requires immediate attention

With a fifth of young people across Europe actively looking for another job or planning to leave their current organisation, companies can’t afford to rest on their laurels. The same retention tactics no longer cut it, and employers must embrace and embody Gen Z values to attract top talent. Work-life balance, a purpose-driven company culture, and professional development are key to hiring this generation, and must be woven into recruitment strategies. 

Ultimately, with the unique skill set and working culture of this generation, organisations may be setting themselves up for failure if they cannot recruit and retain Gen Z. And with Generation Alpha joining the workforce in just five years, it is time to gear up recruitment for our bright young workers - and fast. If you need support in recruiting Gen Z, or any other talent, contact our team today.

About the author

Caragh Cheesman is a freelance writer, working with Freshminds to highlight employment trends and to deliver thought leadership. Caragh has written for brands including Oracle, AWS and Schneider Electric.

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