Gen Z in the Workforce: Recruiting, Onboarding and Retention

image of three diverse young employees sitting around a table working and laughing

Earlier this month, QBS and our partners hosted a webinar discussing Generation Z (or Gen Z) in the workforce. Below provides an overview of what was covered during the webinar. Please click here to access the full webinar recording and hear the live Q&A with HR Expert Robin Paggi.

Currently, there are four generations in our workforce. Below you will find a general overview of these groups (these are certainly not all encompassing):

  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964): grew up with limited resources; competitive and driven
  • Gen X (born 1965-1979/80): latch-key kids; independent and sensitive to work-life balance
  • Gen Y/Millennials (born 1981-1995): technology and helicopter parent; expect guidance
  • Gen Z (born after 1996): smartphones, social media, and the Internet; no privacy, stability or security

 

As we take a closer look at Gen Z, one of the defining things about them is that they’ve probably never been bored — I mean truly bored. Today’s teens and tweens, the youngest of Gen Zs were born in 2012, have had unparalleled access to technology compared with previous generations. They’ve grown up with high speed internet, social media and laptops — many having had smartphones since elementary school.

Additionally, with parents who are very involved, most Gen Z individuals have not been held back in school, haven’t been silenced (social media is a constant outlet), have never been disconnected for a long period of time, and have not held summer or part-time jobs (due to a prioritization of school and extracurricular activities).

So, as this generation begins to enter the workforce, employers, recruiters and managers need to not only understand the above characteristics about Generation Z, they also must rework their existing systems to accommodate the newest members entering the workforce. 

So what can we do to help Gen Z in the employment world?

First, we need to recruit them. If you want to find great people, or want them to find you, social media is currently the best way to do it. In Q1 2020, over 2.6 billion people logged onto Facebook every month, Twitter had over 166 million daily active users in 2020, and 690 million people were LinkedIn members. So regardless of your individual opinion and usage of social media platforms, you cannot discount the impact it has on employee recruitment — especially when it comes to Gen Z.

Best Practices for Recruiting Online: 

  • Use your company website — showcase and highlight what makes your company different and make it easy to apply online. People should be able to complete an application in 15 minutes or less and have the ability to save their application. Also, it helps to provide a way for a potential employee to contact you and express interest in your company, and have consistent timely follow up.
  • Use social media to promote your company, job opportunities, and search for applicants (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram) — consider using paid ads (Facebook) or account types (LinkedIn Talent Advantage) to ensure these are seen and use hashtags (like #jobposting on Twitter) when applicable.
  • Use job boards (like Monster and Indeed.com) — choose the job boards that work best for your specific industry; seek out job boards where your prospects are located — like SHRM for HR folks or local advertising organizations (AAF) for marketing/communication recruits.
  • Create Relationships with Local Schools — seek out local colleges in your area then volunteer to speak to a class about careers in your field, get involved in career day, participate in on campus interviews, and connect with campus job counselors.

 

What about interviewing and onboarding for Gen Z? 

Interview questions: Since many of these individuals do not have job experience (like most other candidates), you need to develop different interview questions. For example: ask about their responsibilities and experiences at home, school and in their different extracurricular activities. Ask them questions about what they do well/don’t do well and what they like/don’t like doing — these questions help to identify if applicant is a good “fit” for the open position.

Provide a realistic job overview: oftentimes the main reason people leave a job early is because they weren’t prepared for what the job duties were or what the environment would be. As an employer, do all that you can to provide a realistic view of that the experience will be like — have them speak with current employees, visit the job site, etc.

Review your employee orientation and onboarding process to ensure it is engaging and interesting. When you bring a Gen Z individual on board, make it a great experience to ensure they feel connected to your workplace, as well as your vision, mission and values, which are critical to not only their success, but also retention.

Tips for Onboarding Success: 

  • Before their first day of work, send them a welcome letter — let them know exactly what their first day will look like: where to show up, what time, who they will report to. Encourage your Gen Z new hire to call if they have questions. But, since they are unlikely to actually pick up a phone, it’s good practice to text them to check in — make sure they are doing ok and ready to come to work.
  • Prepare their workspace before they arrive — have phones, computers, keys, access cards ready to go — everything they need to get started. Another idea is to have other employees sign a “welcome card” to greet them. Even better, create a “welcome kit” that includes some company gear, like a shirt in their size, a coffee mug, a water bottle, a branded note pad, etc., to make them feel like a part of the team right from the start.
  • Have them meet with new supervisor, mentor and trainer — whomever the main person your new Gen Z employee will be working with during the first couple weeks to help them settle in. Make sure this person covers not only job duties, but also tips for navigating the office like culture, where to get lunch, meeting and greeting others, etc.
  • Provide them with tools to help them succeed (the why, when, where and how) — give them smart goals, job descriptions, employee handbooks. By providing these items, new employees will be much more likely to be productive, have higher morale, and stay with your company longer.

 

Next, let’s discuss employee development, which includes training, setting boundaries and providing lots of feedback.

In terms of training, it’s important to tell Gen Z exactly what to do and how to do it. Since many of them are digital natives, they haven’t learned to do things “the old fashioned way”, they also don’t have previous job experiences to draw from. Employers and managers need to provide detailed descriptions to ensure employees are completing tasks in the manner desired vs. seeking guidance from outside sources (like YouTube or Google).

Next is setting boundaries — its important to have policies for cell phone usage, internet usage, dress codes and codes of conduct. All of these policies are a great way to communicate expectations so that there are no unhappy surprises. If you want employees to look, sound, and behave professionally, you need to tell them what that means to you and your organization.

Lastly, young employees need a lot of feedback to ensure they are on the right track. Gen Z individuals desire feedback from employers at a greater frequency than other employees who are already a part of your existing workforce. Consistent, frequent, and honest (well-delivered) feedback can lead to both higher engagement and higher job satisfaction.

Beyond recruiting, onboarding and development, retaining Gen Z employees (or any employee) is incredibly important businesses and managers. Employee attrition and the need to replace employees who leave, whether voluntarily or via termination, is very costly to organizations — not to mention the negative impact on culture.

  1. Don’t underestimate the impact of supervisors: one of the main things any successful organization needs to do is to train their supervisors. These individuals have a profound impact on all areas of employee engagement, productivity, morale, labor relations and cost relation. Supervisors need to be taught how to communicate and interact with employees, need to have general legal knowledge, need to know how to plan, organize and delegate — which don’t always come natural to everyone.
  2. Employees need to feel that supervisors and company leaders care about them: you can show this through frequent interactions with team members and by providing your full attention during these interactions, getting to know them personally, and celebrating their successes.
  3. Provide opportunities for growth and development: both professionally for the individual and also within the organization itself. Ask employees where they want to go in their career and help them plan a path to get there.
  4. Provide opportunities for the organization to learn from the employee: Every person within an organization has a unique set of experiences and background that is valuable to the corporation. Remember, mentoring is a two-way street. Not only do you give them knowledge, you need to ask for opinions, advice, and learn from your employee.

 

Overall, if you take the time to understand culture, you can understand a generation — and this understanding can help to close the gap between generations. If you have more questions or need more guidance when it comes to employee recruiting, onboarding and retention, QBS is here to help. Learn more about our HR management services or contact our team of experts today.