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How to be an employer of choice for Gen Z

Gen Z are undoubtedly becoming more influential in all aspects of culture, including the workplace. But what have they got to offer and what do they value? Here, we dive into some practical steps workplace leaders can take to become an employer of choice for Gen Z. 
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Courtney Norton, Content Writer
2022-09-14

Whether you admire their ability to cope with change during the chaos of a global pandemic or are confused by how on earth they determine what’s ‘funny’ online, Gen Z are undoubtedly becoming more influential in all aspects of culture, including the workplace. 

You may find yourself thinking, “aren’t Gen Z mostly just young kids?” And sure, the youngest members of Gen Z are only 10 years old. However, the oldest members are turning 25 in 2022 and are already well acquainted with the workforce. In fact, according to recent data by McCrindle, Gen Z will make up a huge 27% of the workforce by 2025

Why Gen Z?

So, why would you want members of Gen Z as part of your workplace? What do they have to offer that previous generations can learn from?

Everybody knows how much Gen Z loves sharing their thoughts online, whether it be a daily activity log or in-depth movie reviews. Typically, previous generations are reluctant to leave a formal review unless something is either particularly good or particularly bad. However, members of Gen Z famously share almost every aspect of their life online, including their thoughts on products and experiences, whether good, bad, or simply mediocre. This attitude extends to their experiences in the workplace too. 

Businesses can use this ‘review everything’ mindset to their advantage. In other words, Gen Z leaving reviews or talking about a business online can be free publicity. It’s just about impossible to ensure every bit of publicity is good. However, by embracing the ideas and workplace desires of Gen Z, rather than condemning or ignoring them, the public relations pendulum is much more likely to swing in your favour. 

Gen Z also have the potential to bring an incredible work ethic and dedication to employers. When they feel valued in the workplace, Gen Z then values the business in return; not just because they get paid to, but because they believe and trust in that organisation’s goals. When this happens, business-changing ideas and exciting new projects are born. 

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Before you bring out the brand-new pool table for the lunchroom and organise elaborate flower deliveries to their desks, remember: the most effective ways to become an employer for choice for Gen Z do not revolve around trivial things. The keys to the hearts of Gen Z workers are right in front of workplace leaders and have the potential to positively affect all members of your team, no matter their generation. 

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some practical steps workplace leaders can take to become an employer of choice for Gen Z. 

Create clear social and cultural values

At first glance, it may seem logical to assume that the more a job pays, the more appealing it is for potential employees. While fair pay is certainly important, there’s something that Gen Z crave much more: company values. In fact, data from Aurecon revealed that 49% of Gen Z respondents said “serving a purpose and leaving a positive legacy for future generations” was in their top 3 characteristics they look for in a workplace. 

One of the easiest ways to make your values known to current and potential employees is to feature them on your website and social media. Displaying your company’s values in a location where everyone who comes across your content is likely to see them, creates an impression that you have nothing to hide and are dedicated to living those values. 

Of course, there’s more to workplace values than just saying what they are. Workplaces must follow through with them if they want to become an employer of choice for Gen Z. Does your company value work-life balance? Show your employees by providing opportunities for them to take reasonable time off. You can also lead by example and take that time off yourself as a workplace leader. 

Furthermore, Gen Z also appreciate flexibility, authenticity, and agency in the workplace. In fact, they thrive at work when they are trusted to do their jobs well without being micro-managed by workplace leaders.

Does your company have close ties to a particular social cause or charity? Provide statistics about exactly what your company has contributed or discuss the ways in which you’ve actively brought attention to these causes in the workplace.  

When potential employees as well as current employees can see that a company cares about something other than creating the most revenue possible, it creates a sense of psychological safety at work. Employees are much more likely to approach workplace leaders with honesty if they feel assured that they are already valued. 

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Use modern technology in the workplace

One of the things that defines Gen Z is that they are the first generation that doesn’t remember what life was like before the internet was commonplace. Being surrounded by ever-evolving technology has meant that members of Gen Z have naturally evolved to become quick learners and early adopters of technology. Technology is important in their everyday lives, so it’s only natural that technology is important in their working lives too. 

At some stage in our lives, most of us have probably had to deal with the annoyance of having a slow computer that doesn’t quite do what you need it to do. It’s annoying enough in everyday life, but even more so in the workplace. Tasks that should take 15 minutes, suddenly take double that or even longer. That’s no way to work! 

While investing in up-to-date technology in the workplace may seem like quite a costly endeavour at first glance, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Most obviously, when employees have access to technology that works consistently and efficiently, they’re able to be more productive in the workplace rather than sitting around waiting for something to load.  

Providing up-to-date technology can also act as physical proof for employees that their workplace cares enough to invest financially in them outside of their salary. Employees are far more like to stay with an employer they can see cares about them, rather than one that just says they do.  

Provide opportunities for continuous learning

Members of Gen Z have grown up in a competitive environment and are also entering the workforce at an extremely competitive time. How exhausting! It doesn’t have to be though. What Gen Z are really seeking during this time is stability and security.  

How can they be sure they’re keeping up-to-date with industry knowledge and trends? What can they do to gain a competitive edge that might just help get them over the line for that highly sought-after promotion? 

When workplaces provide tools for employees to continuously learn in the workplace, whether it be through in-person presentations or an online learning portal, they help to provide the stability and security that members of Gen Z so desperately desire. 

In addition to providing the tools for continuous workplace learning opportunities, you can also encourage employees to complete this learning during quieter times. Or, you could dedicate a specific time for employees to participate in workplace learning. By doing so, you are demonstrating a level of commitment to employee learning that is impressive to members of Gen Z. 

Another way for workplace leaders to further encourage these upskilling opportunities is to actively participate in workplace learning themselves. When employees see that their leaders participate in continuous learning, it demonstrates that learning is valuable to leaders and the company overall, rather than just being something they say is valuable. 

Gen Z are already becoming game-changers in the world of work and this trend shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Members of Gen Z bring a refreshing tenacity and hunger for knowledge that makes them an asset to any workplace. Their desire to ask for what they deserve and their ability to champion their workplace’s values and ethics is something from which all generations can benefit. Why wouldn’t you want to be an employer of choice for the generation that will make up the future of the workforce? 

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