Large and in charge
Forget millennials, Generation Z is entering the workforce as the largest, most diverse, and most demanding generation ever. What’s it going to take to hire — and keep — these ‘always-on’ workers?
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As has already been noted, Generation Z and technology go hand in hand, and companies need to make a conscious effort to upgrade their technology practices to keep up with their new hires.
“If there is a social media platform, regardless of what it is, you should be on it if you want to recruit Gen Z,” says Hanson. “Display absolutely everything and anything on your social media outlets that would draw ambitious young folks to your organization, especially any socially-conscious community outreach efforts. This has been discussed for years as a creative way to recruit people, but now it is a necessity, especially if your organization has a need for hard working young talent and wants to be in the game for the long haul.”
Before all else, employers should look at speed of hiring, notes Hanson. “Gen Z grew up with Google. They have not had to wait more than a few seconds for an answer to anything. While they are waiting for your job offer, they found 12 other open positions, sent in their resume, sent a Snapchat (#adulting) to their friends, and scrolled Instagram.”
Having the most talented people will mean having access to up-to-date technology and data, and technology will be part of an employer brand, notes Woodman-Holoubek. Primarily, organizations should invest in programs and systems that are compatible with and function best on mobile devices, social platforms for collaboration and connection, and virtual communication tools.
“Be ready to implement blockchain technology and bitcoin for payment for projects outside of payroll, and possibly moving away from the traditional bi-weekly payroll systems altogether,” says Woodman-Holoubek. “Gen Z will expect it now, and waiting for compensation might frustrate them.”
Davis says Generation Z might be able to use their ease with technology as a hiring point. “The young people we’re hiring are representative of the young consumers we’re courting. We want and need to hire people who understand these new consumer trends. If we can present this as an opportunity to encourage new hires to point out areas we need to improve and support the solutions they bring to the table, the technology gap can be a win-win for all involved.
“That said, we still need young job hunters to take our businesses seriously,” Davis adds. “This generation doesn’t tolerate inefficiency. Gen Z never had to sit through commercials or wait for dial-up internet. They will pay for upgrades to avoid waiting. Companies should make sure the application process is quick, efficient, and easy to use.”
Employers should take advantage of what they’ve learned in the process of integrating millennials into their workplace and apply it to the integration of Gen Z regarding technology, says Johnson. However, employers should also recognize some key differences in these two generations. While millennials are still protective of their work/life balance, Gen Z is “always on.”
“This generation grew up with 24/7 connection to the internet and the line between work time and personal time has continued to blur,” notes Johnson. “Employers will need to adjust expectations around hourly schedules and be sure that connectivity policies are clear.”
No more minimum qualifications?
This last point might be the hardest to swallow for some employers, but in order to recruit the best members of Generation Z, they don’t need to lower their minimum qualifications, they need to do away with them altogether.
“I do think employers will have to forego their reliance on minimum qualifications, especially a four-year degree, as a means to determine the suitability of candidates to a job or a work position,” says Woodman-Holoubek. “Most Gen Zers will have taught themselves what they want to learn via the internet. More emphasis will be placed on the emotional intelligence that a candidate has, and their ability to work as part of a team or as a leader of a team. The focus will be on human connection and performance and how soft skills can be translated into statistics and metrics to move the organization forward.”
“Any time we post an entry-level position, we should be asking what that position really needs from a skills and education standpoint, as well as why we need those prerequisites,” says Davis. “What are we hoping they learned from those education or experience requirements? What can we train? Certain levels of education and certain types of work experience help develop professional skills, such as the ability to agree to disagree with others respectfully. However, in this age of online businesses, we are going to see more young workers apply for jobs after starting their own virtual businesses. HR professionals need to value the types of problem-solving skills and initiative young workers may have developed during online experiences.”
Because Generation Z is viewed as the most entrepreneurial generation, Johnson says she’s found that many employers are removing the four-year-degree requirement from their job postings and re-writing their expectations to include language such as “bachelor’s degree or commensurate work experience desired.”
And if employers do indeed scale back on their minimum qualifications, they should seriously consider offering paid training or tuition reimbursement as a guaranteed part of their benefit package, says Hanson. “Not only does this ensure that the individual has the required skills, but it’s also a strong recruitment and retention tool.”