There’s been a lot of talk about how the world of work changed overnight because of the pandemic. Employees across the globe had to adapt to a remote landscape very quickly as countries locked down. The past year of uncertainty has been difficult enough for employees but imagine if you were a new graduate in the spring of 2020. Gen Z had just started entering the workforce when the pandemic hit and this generation has seen a large impact since. Canceled classes, delayed graduations, and hiring freezes have all painted Gen Zers into a career corner. As companies begin to start rehiring, though, what does this mean for the newest generation to hit the talent market, especially since they’re likely starting their careers in a remote workplace?
Helping young talent thrive
Help your young talent find their place by considering what the employee experience should look like for them. Generation Z is different from those who have come before them, such as the Millennial generation. Instead, Gen Z was born after the creation of the internet making them true digital natives, not to mention they are the most diverse generation to date. So what are they looking for as they enter the workforce for the first time and how can you support their needs?
Prioritize DE&I: This one should be no surprise but diversity and inclusion efforts are becoming more of a priority for organizations and Gen Z is taking notice. As a diverse generation themselves, they’ve grown up in world that’s been very vocal about calling out and addressing injustice. This is a generation of influencers, shining the social media spotlight on issues that matter to them. When trying to recruit Gen Z, think about barriers to diversity that may be built into your hiring process. Can you spot unconscious bias when it comes up during an interview? Are your job descriptions written in neutral language? By increasing your hiring diversity, you’ll increase the diversity of the greater workforce and modern candidates are watching for companies that can make those claims.
Walk your talk: Authencity is important. Candidates and employees alike want to work for employers who will walk their talk. Don’t make promises in an interview that won’t be backed up when young people land in a role. Think about the employee experience at your company and who it’s representing. Are your policies and perks geared toward older generations? Did you promise flexible work without being able to provide it? Are you able to maintain a culture in a remote world? It’s going to be hard enough for younger employees to join the team, especially if it’s their first job. Try to make sure you’re providing a clear picture of what is expected and what support is provided so your incoming young adults understand what’s happening next. After all, they wouldn’t be able to ask the colleagues around them questions like they would in normal times.
Redesign your onboarding strategy: How well you onboard new hires can impact how long they stay in a role. Have you updated your onboarding approach for a remote world? Onboarding through a screen isn’t the same as doing it in person. New hires can tire more easily and zone out after listening to hours of video or explanation on a screen. Instead, try to make your virtual onboarding engaging to keep your employee’s attention. Gamification or tasks that can be done on a mobile device instead of a laptop can be fun ways to mix lessons up. And think about what sort of learning materials you’re leveraging. Maybe you can swap that report out for an infographic instead. Change how you present information and in what medium to keep Gen Z minds engaged and help new hires learn faster.
Provide learning opportunities: One thing Gen Z has learned consistently through their lives is that change is always coming. As such, they want to land at companies that will help them grow their skills and prepare them for the next black swan event (since they’ve already lived through a few). Providing learning opportunities is one way to meet that need to develop new skills. When you think of L&D your mind might flash to a facilitator in a hotel conference room but there are many other ways to help employees learn. When you need to keep your distance, you might want to explore assessments that can be used virtually to help improve team dynamics. Or online workshops that a new team could take together. There are even learning apps that can help support employee wellness. Gen Z is hungry to pick up new abilities so make sure your company has a strategy to help them do so.
Have patience: At the end of it all, Gen Zers need managers who can be patient. Gen Z doesn’t view the world the same way baby boomers or Gen X does. They share a lot in common with Millennials who will likely be their first managers but even that previous generation didn’t face the same kind of turmoil Gen Z has. Launching into the workforce while the entire world is remote has been a challenge for young talent and once they get into an online job, they might feel adrift or uncertain of what to do next. It’s important to keep expectations in line with realistic goals and to scaffold learning benchmarks in the first few months. Your new hire has a lot to learn and unlike in previous years, they won’t have an office of older peers to help them do it. Be patient with your young talent and give them the tools they need to find their feet.
A new generation enters the workforce
When you think of members of Gen Z you might think of TikTok and high school. But this generation has lived through the great recession in 2008, they’ve seen the deadly rise of climate change, and they’ve watched technology advance faster than it ever has before in human history. How Gen Z looks at the world is different from the preceding generations and that change in viewpoint can be a great competitive advantage for companies able to capture young talent. Hiring Gen Z is about more than having a great talent acquisition process, though. It’s about being authentic as a company and creating an environment that can support growth and inclusion, even from a distance. Joining a remote team is hard for anyone but the pressure is even stronger when it’s your first job. Think about the different needs Gen Zers bring with them and how managers and organizations can adapt. Gen Z’s presence in the workforce will only increase so it pays to take young talent seriously. Attracting Gen Zers today might help you flourish tomorrow.