Millennials are no longer the next big thing. Over the coming years, Generation Z will be climbing onto the first rung of the careers ladder, and employers need to be prepared.
Gen Z are typically identified as those born from the mid-90s onwards. Sometimes seen as the second wave of millennials, they do share some characteristics with Gen Y, but differ significantly in other ways. They’ve grown up with digital technology integrated into their lives almost from the start, and their mind-set has been strongly shaped by events including the Great Recession and the War on Terror.
Here are 5 things you need to know about the next generation of hires. Of course, these are sweeping generalisations – perhaps ironic given that Gen Z will be the most diverse generation to date in the UK and USA. However, by identifying trends and adapting your graduate recruitment strategies accordingly, you can get ahead of the game and make sure you draw in and retain the best of Gen Z.
They care about having an input
Even more than the generation before them, Gen Z dream of being entrepreneurs. A survey by Sparks and Honey suggests that 72% want to start their own business – so how should you approach being their employer?
One answer is to make sure you emphasise the impact they can have on the company. Many of them will be attracted by the idea that they can have responsibility from day one. And although you might encounter some who think they know best, most will be looking for feedback, both positive and critical. Make sure you provide clear feedback and regular guidance, and you should be able to navigate any teething problems.
They take progress seriously
Far from being flighty and indulged, Gen Z are serious about their careers and anticipate challenges throughout their working lives. In fact, a survey by Robert Half showed that over three-quarters of them expect to have to work harder than previous generations to get achieve career satisfaction, and over half expect to have to work well-into their 60s.
Demonstrating that you can provide opportunities for progression will be a key part of recruiting and retaining the next generation of employees; you need to be able to show that they have a future at the company. This could mean a clear career path and chances to apply for promotion, or it could mean opportunities to diversify and take on new responsibilities. Lay out clear targets and rewards to hook them in and encourage them to stay.
They’re worried about money
Students of UK universities now graduate with a higher average of student debt than in any other English-speaking country. Those who started studying after the fees hike in 2012 are facing an average of £44,000 – and that could increase further if fees continue to rise, a possibility set out in the Government’s 2016 Higher Education White Paper.
And with an understanding of finance heavily shaped by the 2008 Financial Crisis, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Robert Half’s survey revealed that generous pay was their second highest ranked job search priority.
This doesn’t mean that Gen Z only care about money; the same survey revealed that 30% of respondents would be willing to accept a 10-20% pay cut in order to work for a cause they believe in. But it does suggest that money is a real concern, so if you’re looking to hire graduates, you’ll need to be prepared to talk about terms.
However, this isn’t just about salary. If a company is able to offer benefits that relieve financial pressure from their employees in another way – like providing food, allowing flexible hours or subsidising a bike scheme to save travel costs, or providing gym membership – this could also attract top Gen Z talent.
They’re idealistic (but hard to fool)
From climate change to social justice, Gen Z care about causes. And as the statistics show, 30% would choose a worse paid job if it allowed them to make a difference. Yet while they want to work for a company with an ethical mission, they’re wary of false promises.
According to a survey by Millennial Branding and Randstad US, 52% of Gen Z and Millennials think that honesty is the most important quality in a leader. They value integrity and openness in their employers.
When recruiting and managing Gen Z make sure that you present a clear and engaging statement as this will appeal to their vision of the future. However, don’t lie about the reality of the job. And be willing to share information with your youngest recruits, because they might equate a lack of openness with dishonesty, leading to feelings of exclusion of distrust.
They’re digital natives
The younger your employee is, the more their lives will have been entwined with technology from an early age; Gen Z have grown up with the Internet, smart phones, and social media. That means they’ll be great additions to the business, but it also means that you can use technology to help recruit them, by using a platform that they love.
According to Sparks and Honey’s survey, 66% of Americans aged 6-11 see gaming as their main source of entertainment, as do 51% of teen boys. Games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush have achieved periods of incredible global popularity. And rather than being a male domain, many gamers are women.
Tapping into the popularity of gaming has already proved itself a helpful tool for companies. Gamification is increasingly being used as a recruitment aid by companies ranging from GCHQ to Deloitte.
Testing candidates using a game can have various uses. It can enable you do identify certain skills and qualities in a candidate, and it can also give the candidate an insight into the kind of work they’ll be doing and whether they’re suited to it. If you’re looking for ways to really engage the people you’re recruiting, gamification is certainly worth a consideration.
Claire Kilroy is a content writer for the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, Inspiring Interns. Check out their website for listings of internships and graduate jobs in London and beyond, or head to their blog to read graduate careers advice.