They’re here! There’s a whole lot of them and they’re about to invade the labour scene.
What exactly do we know about them—those people born between 1997 to 2012—the so-called “Gen-Z” or “Zoomers?”
These are not just your very young millennials. They are a different breed, with a unique set of qualities.
And if you’re an employer or organization wishing to avail of their deep skills and talents, what do you need to know about hiring and retaining them?
Here are 6 gems to keep in mind:
#1 Speak to their “freedom” and “flexibility” ethos.
Forty-six per cent of working Zoomers are freelancers, untethered to any company or organization. It’s not because nobody would hire them...it’s by choice.
Gen-Zers are known to adopt non-traditional ways of working. Gone are the days when an employee joins a company right after graduation, stays with them for 40 years, and ushers in the next generation of employees in the family.
Zoomers want to work at their own pace and in their own preferred space, and place. Offering the opportunity for remote work will sound very good indeed. Proposals that give them enough elbow room to schedule their work hours will get their interest and attention.
When initially approaching Zoomers, do not bombard them with your company’s long list of policies and regulations. Speak instead about how your company supports and respects each worker’s individuality and freedom. It will be a very good first step to get the ball rolling.
#2 Dental still counts.
A competitive salary, medical insurance, paid leave and retirement fund will always be important factors for consideration. These never go out of style.
When you package employee benefits, make sure you got all the greatest hits...and more.
Since these young upstarts probably just came out of college, student loans are always at the back of their minds. A tuition reimbursement of some sort or a deal structure that helps them clear these debts will sweeten the pot for your workers.
Gen-Z workers are mostly single. They are not working because they are trying to raise kids or pay off a 30-year mortgage. They have their eyes on a car, the latest gadget or exciting travel destinations. They are not your middle-aged professionals who bear it and grin because Susie needs her braces.
They are at a stage in their lives where they want to maximize both their personal and professional experience. Highlight the fact that you will provide mentorship and that working for the organization will win them valuable industry experience and skills, and they will seriously consider your offer.
But most of all, genuinely listen to their personal needs and you might just structure a deal that pleases both parties.
#3 Understand what it means to be a digital child.
They say millennials are tech-savvy. Well, Zoomers have them beat by a mile.
This is your most digitally proficient and dependent generation. They are your true digital natives, who don’t remember a time without smartphones, hi-speed internet and social media.
These workers expect things to move fast. If you want to hire them, you need to move fast. If you don’t have a digital recruitment strategy, then you’re missing out on a large chunk of them. If your forms are too taxing, they may not even finish filling it out. (And they do that on mobile phones.)
A company wishing to hire Zoomers must also remember to take care of their online branding and reputation. Just as you can readily find information about your employees, they can also easily find details and stories about the company. And worse than having negative reviews online is having no online standing at all. If they don’t see you online, it’s like you don’t exist at all. They will seriously doubt your competitiveness and professionalism.
Companies would do best to help their prospects research the company by actively pointing them to resources and pages that put the organization’s best foot forward.
In connection with being a digital child, these folks expect to always be learning on the job. When we talked about getting “valuable industry experience and skills” earlier, we really mean staying relevant. Zoomers understand that new technologies can bring profound changes. So they will always be looking to build and learn new skills.
In their short lifetimes, they’ve witnessed roles and tasks suddenly becoming automated or made obsolete, causing worker displacement. Their parents might have experienced this. If so, it has made a profound impact on their views of work.
#4 Look at the nature of the job itself.
For every generation, but more so with Zoomers, employees want to work on projects that they are passionate about. As mentioned, they are not in it just for the money—at least not in the same way a father of three is.
At no other time in human history is the nature of the job itself given that much weight and focus. You can have the best perks, but the Gen-Z folks can see easily see through the bells and whistles.
If you offer something that matches what they are looking for, they will seriously consider it. And one of the issues Gen-Z talents have in mind is the concept of “movement.” (This is after all a very mobile generation.)
I’m referring to “movement” here in more ways than one. First, there’s movement in terms of space or location. As mentioned, remote work affords them the chance to move around while “staying” in the company. They want to have the ability to change the scenery of their “offices.” They want to work at the beach one weekend and then in some other locale the next.
This has something to do with being exposed to all the great places and experiences around the world. Social media has bombarded them with pictures and videos of how great those places can be, and they want a job that allows them to maximize their travel, without making them feel like they’re being irresponsible or playing hooky.
Another kind of “movement” Gen-Z folks are looking for is about moving from one challenge to another. They want opportunities and advancement. They want to be always doing something interesting, eschewing the routines that have plagued generations past. If you want to retain these folks, you need to serve them with some action—a worthy goal to keep them on their toes, something they can latch on to. (And when you do, always have their back to support them.)
In short, this is a generation who understands that “He, I am not my job, but look...I gotta love what I’m doing!”
#5 Job-hopping is a feature...not a bug.
We used to ask candidates, “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?” If a Zoomer is to answer that question truthfully, he’d say, “Definitely not here.”
Younger workers stay at jobs for less than 3 years. It’s not because they hate their bosses or that the job is an unbearable pain, but because, and it almost comes off like a mantra, it’s simply time to move on. It’s nothing personal.
This is an emerging reality that organizations and businesses need to wise up to. Retaining Gen-Z employees, short of tying them to their desks with a golden chain, can be next to impossible. The labour scene is becoming a gig economy, where workers work on a project or two for a company then move on to other things.
A way to adjust to this situation is for businesses to keep close ties with former employees, and even asking them for referrals before a prized employee leaves. Especially in cases when a Zoomer holds a position requiring specialized skill, looking for a worthy replacement may prove long and costly. It is, however, often the case that your guy will know somebody in his industry who can be a fit.
Just as there are Zoomers trying to move out of your company, there are also others who are very psyched to move in. It will be like a game of musical chairs and the company that can flourish in this kind of arrangement will do just fine.
#6 Get ready to deal with entrepreneurs.
A lot of Zoomers are entrepreneurial—finding joy in working for themselves rather than in a corporate setup.
Starting a business has become very easy these days as there are almost no barriers to entry, and becoming a “business owner” or “CEO” can be as easy as filling out a few online forms.
When working with Gen-Z talent, you might find yourself dealing with a one-man agency where the person himself is the “brand.”
So instead of getting yourself an employee, you could be working with a subcontractor or a boutique agency that specializes in the task you require.
Many Zoomers are operating this way, turning their “professions” into a “business.” They are businessmen at heart, and they know their value, understand their skill (they’ve worked hard developing it, after all) and can make excellent negotiators.
Don’t lose your balance in these situations. (Don’t look down or take lightly these solo-entrepreneurs, either.) It’s just one of those realities, like the emerging gig economy, that you need to learn to navigate.
We at Kinetic understand the challenges of hiring and retaining employees—whether they are Gen-Z, Millennials or Boomers. Our job is to help companies grow their business by hiring competent staff. And we help them do it at the fraction of the regular cost. (Ask us how.)
Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.