Written by Alex Cheney, Director, Wilbury Stratton

With Generation Z’ers coming of age, we are witnessing a group becoming a part of the talent acquisition conversation as companies search for employees who will help them thrive moving into the future. Generation Xers, having nearly fulfilled long-lasting, fruitful careers, are eyeing retirement. Meanwhile, millennials are in the midst of their professional journeys. So, it makes sense for companies to seek the best and brightest talent from those up-and-coming younger generations as they look to safeguard their operations in the years to come.

But obtaining top-tier talent requires deep knowledge of what drives them forward, and understanding the talent landscape with data-led intelligence can give businesses a cutting edge as they look to appeal to prospective employees. Different age groups hold different values, and what was once high on the agenda for Gen Xers may be of little value to the new cohort entering the market. For companies looking to tap into this new talent group, placing an onus on what matters most to them is something which will stand them in good stead.

Understanding where to begin with Gen Z can be a daunting task as businesses look to offer a work environment which caters for all. Gen Zers are typically more likely to be ambivalent about their workplace than senior colleagues, with many not feeling a close connection to their co-workers and employers. Meanwhile, younger employees are more likely to feel the burden of work, with 91 percent reporting to feeling stressed.[i]

A greater work-life balance ranks high on Gen Zers’ agenda when they are considering employment. So too does an inclusive and diverse company which aims to accelerate career development with tangible measures, and for any company looking to attract the best new talent, they must develop a work environment which recognises the nuances which drive Gen Zers forward.

With Gen Z being the most stressed generation, companies who demonstrate a healthy, flexible working environment which empowers them to put their wellbeing first will stand out to talent. The implementation of four-day working weeks or mental health days are measures which are plain to see, but crucially, it is the organisations who respect boundaries, encourage employees to avoid their work phone when out of hours, and encourage a positive work life balance who will appeal to Gen Z talent.

Purpose is key. A competitive salary will lack the appeal it should if younger employees do not value the mission behind the company. Besides earning a living they want to feel like they’re enacting real change with global warming, diversity and inclusion, and societal challenges all of great importance to them. Indeed, 93 percent of Gen Zers say a company’s impact on society affects their decision to work there.[ii] Companies who proactively rise to these challenges will become a far more attractive proposition to talent.

Building a work environment which harbours a sense of community will enhance this also. Gen Zers are keen to forge relationships and feel connected with their colleagues, helping them to solve problems through collaboration. Businesses who work towards building an environment with teams and leaders which represent a wide range of cultural and intellectual perspectives will create an all-encompassing space for Gen Zers to thrive. Going a step further to see senior staff implement mentorship roles in a bid to progress younger talent will bring to the fore a workforce which flourishes, as well as seeing organisations nurturing the abundance of talent available from Gen Zers.

With the younger generation holding valuable skills, companies should ensure they put them to the test. While a business may not be a startup, companies which embody the principles of entrepreneurship and innovation will appeal to Gen Zers. Rigid tasks and responsibilities run the risk of creating a mundane day-to-day experience as the younger generations are still assessing where their skill strengths and weaknesses lie. For organisations who constantly try and push the boundaries, who embrace creativity and multidimensionality, and encourage their Gen Zers to try new things with a hands-on approach, will find this resonates with their talent.

Key to understanding the drivers behind the next working generation is the utilisation of the latest talent landscape intelligence which allows organisations to create environment which will not only attract the best up-and-coming talent, but also ensure that they thrive moving forward. This in turn allows them to take a shrewd approach to their talent acquisition with the knowledge that their work practices will appeal to the outstanding candidates of the younger generations.
5 things which matter most to Gen Z workers
1. Hitting the work-life balance sweet spot
2. Placing purpose at the heart of what they do
3. Feeling empowered within the workplace
4. Forging strong, collaborative relationships with colleagues
5. Harbouring a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation