Insights for Organisations

How to Attract, Engage and Retain Gen Z Talent

Paul Brown
05.01.23

The introduction of Gen Z talent into the workforce has accelerated considerably over the past 4 years. An estimated 20% of the UK workforce in 2020 consisted of those born after 1996. Gen-Z looks to be a valuable asset in the changing world of business with their tech-savvy nature, brought on by an evermore digitised world.

However, Gen Z is fast changing the expectations of employment, with many requesting the latest technology, flexible working arrangements, higher salaries and more company perks. So, how can businesses and HR teams create effective strategies to attract, engage and retain the top Gen Z talent?

What’s in this article?

What’s the difference between Gen Z and Millennials?

Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is the youngest generation entering the workforce, currently aged between 10 and 25. Millennials, on the other hand, were born between 1981 and 1996, and are currently aged between 26 and 41.

Gen Z and Millennials differ in many ways, and one key aspect of this can be seen in team situations. Millennials typically prioritise collaborative methods, whereas Gen Z prefer working solo, which is likely a result of growing up with personal devices. While both have their benefits, it is clear that a blend of both generational cohorts is essential in a high-functioning team.

Another core distinction that differentiates Gen Z from Millennials is their focus on alternative income streams. This is likely the result of watching their parents struggle during the 2008 financial crisis. However, employers should not see this as a lack of loyalty – instead, Gen Z wants to ensure they have stability should anything like that happen to them.

Gen Z’s drive and determination for more makes them a valuable asset for businesses, as they are always looking for new ways of working. Millennials are also highly motivated and bring new perspectives to the table, but Gen Z’s fresh energy can help refocus established teams. 

Why is Gen Z employee retention important?

In 2020, Gen Z talent made up 20% of the UK workforce and that number has continued to grow. With an increasing proportion of employees taking early retirement, the importance of attracting, engaging and retaining Gen Z talent has never been clearer. Generation Z shows a drive to learn and develop new skills, making them essential to pick up from where the baby boomers are leaving off.

Gen Z can often bring lots of benefits to organisations with their prioritisation of diversity and their focus on personal development having wider-reaching impacts for the rest of the team. Their drive for personal development can turn them into highly productive team members, making Gen Z talent an asset to any business.

Attracting and retaining high-quality Gen Z employees is vital to any organisation’s longevity, which is why a solid employee retention strategy is key.

6 ways to attract, engage and retain Gen Z talent

Attracting and retaining employees is a challenge that many companies are facing across the UK, but more so when it comes to Generation Z. Here are six ways employers can attract, engage and retain the top talent from the Gen Z cohort.

  1. Provide clear development opportunities for their career
  2. Create an inclusive work culture
  3. Implement efficient time management
  4. Make wellbeing a priority
  5. Invest in the latest technology
  6. Rethink the experience required in job listings

1. Provide clear development opportunities for their career

Gen Z value development opportunities as a priority, with salary being held as a much lower priority. The importance of development over everything else means that Gen Z are willing to stay loyal to organisations for as long as career opportunities are available. As a result, it’s vital for businesses to consistently offer learning and development opportunities to this generational cohort.

Companies must recognise Gen Z talent as an investment. A business that demonstrates that it’s invested in its employees, is more likely to have employees that remain invested in the business – especially the Gen Z workforce. Organisations should also recognise that Gen Z talent are willing to defer the instant gains of leaving for another role, so long as they feel that they are developing personally and professionally.

2. Create an inclusive work culture

Creating an inclusive culture is essential to maintaining and growing a diverse workforce, especially when it comes to attracting and retaining top Gen Z talent. When choosing an employer, 83% of Gen Z candidates say that an organisation’s dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion is important to them. Focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion as a benefit during the hiring process can be a useful approach. A McKinsey study found that organisations that featured culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams had a 33% chance to outperform their competitors on their earnings.

Generation Z also views diversity in a broader context, with increased focus being put on a mix of life experience, identities, opinions and ideas. One core way of ensuring a diverse workplace culture is to recognise inherent biases. Recognising inherent bias will enable hiring managers to maintain a clear perspective when interviewing candidates from a variety of backgrounds.

3. Implement efficient time management

Gen Z are far stricter with their personal time and are aware of the importance of taking time out and ‘switching off’, as a result of growing up surrounded by technology. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, 53% of employees are more likely to prioritise health and wellbeing than they were before – and Gen Z are no exception.

Businesses must pay close attention to time management and how this affects their employees. There are a number of working methodologies, such as the Agile method, that may appeal to candidates, which can help Gen Z employees effectively manage their time. It’s important that organisations ensure that employees’ hours are planned in advance to prevent them from regularly working overtime. Hybrid and flexible working arrangements can also appeal to Gen Z talent, as it gives them more control over their work-life balance. Not only will this reduce churn, but it will also ensure higher employee satisfaction.

4. Make wellbeing a priority

Mental health is a high priority for HR leaders and managers right now, and it’s Generation Z that are paying close attention to how businesses deal with mental health issues. Over the last two years, 88% of UK employees have experienced burnout to some degree, with one third suffering from physical and mental exhaustion due to workplace pressures. Generation Z are amongst the workforce reporting the highest rates of burnout at 58% – a worrying sign that so many young employees are already feeling burnt out.

Employees that experience high levels of stress are far more likely to take sick days, disengage from their job role and ultimately, quit sooner than those who are less stressed. As such, it’s crucial to have a wellbeing programme in place, especially if you want to attract and retain top Gen Z talent. Demonstrate that your business cares about the wellbeing and mental health of your employees through positive initiatives – it’s perhaps one of the most effective changes you can make.

At FDM, we are always looking for new ways to look after the happiness and wellbeing of our consultants. However, we realise that people’s quality of life doesn’t end with work, which is why we offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). It’s a confidential service that is available to all members of the FDM community, so if they are feeling overwhelmed or are dealing with mental health issues they can get the support they need.

5. Invest in the latest technology

Generation Z have never known a world without technology, so it’s no wonder that they are more adept

with the latest software and applications. Having been raised in the height of technological development, Gen Z are digital natives and are well-versed in communicating and problem-solving effectively. However, it can be difficult for this generational cohort to comply with traditional ways of working.

Since the global pandemic, working is no longer restricted to one location during the hours 9-5. As a result, Gen Z expects to have the tools they need to get the job done effectively and efficiently. Employers should ensure that Gen Z staff have access to laptops, collaboration software and cloud technology, which enables them to work anywhere at any given time. Businesses will only benefit from Gen Z talent if they have the tools they need to get the job done.

Make sure that your business invests in the latest technology to ensure that your employees are able to work efficiently.

6. Rethink the experience required in job listings

Research has found that 53% of Gen Z have changed companies in the last two years, suggesting that, amongst other factors, employers are failing to meet the demands of the younger workforce. Although Gen Z are more likely to look for another job if they aren’t satisfied with their current role, they also aren’t the most confident when it comes to looking for a new role.

When attracting Gen Z talent, businesses should ensure that job listings are labelled correctly. For those who are starting out in their careers, it can be intimidating ​​when employers require a minimum of three years experience for entry-level roles, which is the case for 35% of their entry-level postings. Prioritising experience over skills can lead to employers alienating potential high-quality Gen Z candidates since they cannot “tick every box”.

Gen Z are the focus of 2023

There are many ways in which Gen Z are unique, from their ways of working to their general work ethic. However, it is clear that Gen Z talent are incredibly hard-working and will help drive any organisation that invests in them. Organisations need to refocus their hiring philosophies around several key distinctions within this group and ultimately accept diversity, as younger people will approach things differently and conceptualise work from a different perspective.

This generation’s focus on learning and development will be invaluable as they enter the workforce. As a significant number of long-standing team members are filing for early retirement, Gen Z’s propensity toward solo-working will be invaluable toward replacing those leaving the workforce. A blend of collaborative and solo workers are essential to forming a results driven workforce, as it allows varying working styles to thrive. Ultimately, Gen Z is the future and businesses need to focus on investing in this idyllic and optimistic new generation.

Find out how we can give you access to the top Gen Z talent. Discover more about FDM’s services or get in touch today for more information.