Millennials have had their heyday; now it’s time for Gen Z to shine. To engage the first fully immersed digital native generation, businesses need to start capitalising on technology to win the war on talent.Talent shortages are among the biggest barriers to business growth Right now, practically every business is struggling to find and keep skilled people. There are many reasons for this, from the pandemic which sent shockwaves through the workforce to the ‘Great Resignation’ which saw a global quitting spree in record numbers. But the thing that’s shaping recruitment the most? It’s the new demands that Generation Z is placing on the workplace.
Generation Z, or Gen Z for short, is the demographic cohort after the Millennial generation. Born between 1997 and 2012, these people are digital natives who have grown up with technology at their fingertips This gives them a bold new perspective and set of skills that companies desperately need – but it also means that the way we recruit and nurture them needs to change.
In this article, we explore four key areas where technology is changing the game for Gen Z talent acquisition and retention. Bu first, let’s take a closer look at the newest faces in the office.
Gen Z in Numbers
Gen Z are the newest cohort in the working ranks. Currently aged between 10 and 25 they account for more than 12.6 million people in the UK and make up around 20% of the workforce. That percentage will obviously rise as Gen Z ages up and soon they will be as much of a force – some say more so – than the Millennial generation.
What’s special about Gen Z is they are the first truly digital-native generation. While Millennials cut their technology teeth on MySpace and Tamagotchi, Gen Z had WiFi and smartphones with 12 megapixel cameras. Nearly half spend 10 hours online every day, reports Adobe, and some 80% of them want to work with cutting-edge technology. In fact, nine out of 10 Gen Zers say that the tech offered by an employer would influence their job choice – meaning the lack of it could be a dealbreaker.
Being immersed in the cloud, mobile and social media from birth gives Gen Z a significant advantage when it comes to being tech-savvy. From an employer’s perspective, they are basically future-proof. More than any other generation, you can expect them to actively seek out new digital solutions and instinctively us tech as their superpower to perform tasks and solve problems.
But as with previous generations, Gen Zer do have some weaknesses that are ironically, consequences of their strengths The main one is that they are restless. Gen Z craves innovation and entrepreneurship 53% want to start their own companies and, despite being new to the workforce they have already built a worrying reputation for job hopping. The average Gen Zer is predicted to spend just 2 years in a job and to work 18 jobs spanning six careers before retirement, according to research from ECMC Group.
Long story short: Gen Z is hard to attract and even harder to retain. They expect work to be varied, challenging, entrepreneurial and experiential, with tech connecting the physical and digital realms. Which means that tech is not an add on, it’s a necessity - and you’ll have to offer the best technology experiences to attract and retain the cream of the crop.
Here are four areas to get right to find, keep and grow the talent you need.
#1: Recruiting tech to win the war on talent
Recruiting breaks down into three stages: sourcing, screening and selection. As an employer, your job is to provide a seamless and hassle-free experience across all of those stages. Applicants expect this, to the point where 54% of Gen Z candidates won’t submit an application if they feel your recruitment methods are long, messy or outdated.
If you plan to hire many employees or post a variety of roles, it's worth looking into an Applicant Tracking System. An ATS will automate parts of the recruitment process and bring all the tasks and data into one platform, making it more efficient for both employers and candidates. For example, a good ATS can automate repetitive tasks like interview scheduling, and can link up with job boards to ensure that someone applying through Indeed is automatically pulled into your internal systems. In this way, no one will fall through the cracks due to human error and you’re not wasting time or resources on manually downloading and uploading people data from one system to another, or populating spreadsheets with information from a CV.
A word of caution, however – like in all areas of life, Gen Z expects your recruiting to be ‘Amazonified.’ They are used to the one-click ‘easy apply’ button on job sites, and will get frustrated if you throw additional barriers in their way, for example, by presenting them with another login screen or asking them to fill out yet another application. Bear in mind, too, that Gen Z has only ever known a mobile world. Almost all of them will search and apply for jobs on their phones. If your recruiting processes are not optimised for mobile – you’re asking too many questions, for instance, or the application process takes too long – the good candidates will abandon the application. Fun fact: the average Gen Zer received their first mobile phone at 10.3 years old!
Gen Z feels the need ... the need for speed – so use text, What’sApp, AI-powered chatbots and interview scheduling software for fast interaction with candidates. Pre-recorded video screeners, online tools for assessment and other interactive tools can all improve the candidate experience. And with an ATS synchronising all these applications, you’ll be able to access great data about how easily positions are filled to inform your planning for future recruitment drives.
Simplify your process as much as possible. Ensure your application processes are fast and mobile friendly, and use tech tools to automate communication, interview scheduling and feedback.
A good ATS can improve efficiency and eliminate manual work in the selection process.
#2: Onboard like you mean it
As every business knows, the work does not stop when you find the right employee. Persuading them to stay – that’s the hard part. And it all starts with the onboarding process, which is crucial for setting the tone. Research shows that effective onboarding can boost your retention by as much as 82%. Yet, as Gallup reports, only 10% of employees feel their organisation does a good job onboarding them.
So, what’s the trick to doing it right? Ultimately, Gen Z and younger Millennials are looking for an authentic connection with the employer. They want to see that their first impressions of your business, and all the things you promised them at the interview, are genuine, from the company culture to the processes and tools that you use day to day. Your organisation will look disingenuous if it uses the latest technologies in the recruiting process, for example, but doesn’t embrace technology in actual working practice.
From day one, relationships are key. You may have heard the phrase “people leave managers, not companies” and it’s just as true for Gen Z as it is for experienced workers. According to CGK’s Generation Z Research Series, 60% of Generation Z want several weekly check-ins from their boss and 40% think they’ve done something wrong if they don’t speak to their manager daily. The challenge is that managers are often busy with their technical work and may not have the time or the skills that are necessary to properly lead, coach and develop others.
Good tech can help you get intentional about onboarding, check-ins and performance management. This doesn’t have to consume a huge chunk of time, as 67% of Gen Z are fine with check-ins taking five minutes or less. An HRIS with performance management tools can automate time-consuming tasks and make onboarding, feedback and performance management continuous, high-tech and high-touch.
- Start as you mean to go on with onboarding that gets the balance right between online learning and personal connection.
- Good HRIS onboarding and performance management software for SMEs can automate time- consuming tasks and ensure managers have more time to be intentional with check-ins, mentoring and performance management.
#3: Adopt a mobile-first mentality to maintain a hybrid workforce
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that remote working is no longer a luxury — it’s an expectation. According to one LinkedIn survey, Gen Z is the generation most likely to leave a job because there’s no flexible/ hybrid working policy in place. The clear message for anyone hoping to land younger talent is to abandon the old ‘clock in-clock out’ and create more hybrid and remote positions.
However, remote work has to ‘work’ – and tech is the great enabler. But what does this mean?
Above all, continuity is key. Gen Z use multiple devices and want to be able to access company apps and resources from their smartphone, laptop, tablet and other devices, anywhere and anytime, with exactly the same experience as if they were sitting on the company network. As an employer, it’s essential to embrace cloud-based channels for communication, task and performance management that enable your people to work anywhere in collaboration with others.
Gen Z are known for being self-reliant, resourceful and pragmatic. They operate with the mindset “if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself.” As such, they want to take an active role in determining their own in- and out-of-office schedules and welcome AI-powered virtual assistants and self-service portals that allow them to find information and answers themselves whenever they need them – even at 3am if that’s when inspiration strikes!
- For SMEs, cloud-based collaboration and productivity tools have proven to be a convenient, affordable, scalable and user-friendly way of supporting a mobile and hybrid workforce that likes to work across devices.
- Self-service enablement appeals to the Gen Z desire to work independently and may have a direct impact on your company’s retention.
#4: Lean in on learning and development
Ping-pong tables and fully stocked snack bars are not enough to satisfy the ambitious Gen Zer. In fact, more than three-quarters (76%) say that L&D is the key to a successful career. Around 40% are willing to accept a 5% pay cut for a role that offers better career growth, according to the Workplace Confidence Survey, compared with 26% of workers overall. These numbers make sense when you consider that Gen Z are keen to build the skills necessary to move up the ladder.
For Gen Z, Learning & Development (L&D) is not once and done. “Learning is one continuous, multifaceted, completely integrated experience — connecting social, academic and professional interests,” reports U.S.-based Barnes and Noble College, noting that Gen Z “make no distinction between devices or online territories." When thinking about L&D, look to technologies that meet Gen Z where they’re at. Things like online learning, gamification, role play and video- and mobile-based collaborative training can put you ahead of the pack when it comes to skilling Gen Z while keeping them engaged.
Unlike past generations, Gen Z prefers microlearning, where they take in information in small, specific bursts. This goes hand-in-hand with self-directed learning, where staff can consume information in a way that’s right for them, as opposed to a conventional learning approach where HR and managers specify the exact tasks to do. Self-directed learning is second nature to Gen Z – after all, they were born around the same time as YouTube, the go-to place for DIY lessons and upskilling.
Modern cloud-based SaaS talent management software is very affordable for SMEs. These platforms will give you access to mobile courses, training, quizzes, communication apps and employee recognition and rewards to help these motivated self- learners take charge of their own L&D. To optimise engagement, training pathways should align with an employee’s individual career goals. This ensures that the work is more meaningful and purpose-driven, which are two of the main drivers for Generation Z.
Offer continuous learning and training programs to help Gen Z get up to speed quickly and excel in their roles.
Small and very specific bursts of online learning give ample room to retain and apply the knowledge quickly – use tech to deliver quizzes, role plays, video- and mobile-based collaborative training that Gen Z can direct themselves. Allow your younger workforce to be intrapreneurs.
It’s a whole new world out there and Gen Z will soon be your biggest source of talent. It’s imperative that you start putting in place strategies to reach, engage and retain this tech-savvy generation. To do this, you have to:
- Look at hiring and retention as a continuous process that starts with the job ad and ends when an employee leaves your organisation.
- Meet younger talent where they’re at – online, mobile, and cross device.
- Deliver the cutting-edge tech tools and experiences that empower Gen Z to work, play, problem solve, innovate, upskill and help themselves – and in return, do great things for your business.
The modern workplace requires modern solutions. At Aabyss, we’re laser-focused on transforming your digital journey so you have all the tools you need to hire effectively, work efficiently and retain the best talent to help propel your business to the next level. To find out how we can help your business, book a discovery call today.
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