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Gen Z: How to Hire, Develop and Inspire Them

The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated today announced the final segment of a global study examining the attitudes of Generation Z—teenagers and early 20-somethings—in the workplace.

The study reveals how employers worldwide can most effectively attract, develop, motivate and retain talent within the next next-generation workforce.

Completing a three-part series from The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace, “How to Be an Employer of Choice for Gen Z” uncovers the motivations and aspirations of today’s youngest working generation, including those yet to officially enter the workforce. A survey of 3,400 Gen Zers across Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. finds that money still talks; good managers matter more than ever; work needs to be interesting; and, while schedule stability is important, flexibility is non-negotiable.

How to recruit Gen Z: Prioritize pay, flexibility and stability

  • Money talks: More than half of Gen Zers worldwide (54%)—including 62% in the U.K. and 59% in the U.S. —say pay is the most important consideration when applying for their first full-time job. Money becomes increasingly important the older the Gen Zer, with 57% of 22- to 25-year-olds agreeing that nothing outweighs pay, compared to 49% of the 21-and-under crowd.
  • Flexible-yet-stable schedules are a must: One in 5 Gen Zers say they want a consistent and predictable schedule (21%) yet also expect employers to offer flexibility (23%).
  • Not all benefits are equal: Employee perks like free snacks, happy hours and gym reimbursements are enticing, but traditional benefits (e.g. healthcare coverage, retirement plan, life insurance) are preferred by a 2-1 ratio by Gen Z, regardless of age or stage of life.
  • Red flags for Gen Z prospects: A delayed response from a recruiter is a major turn-off for 44% of respondents, especially in Mexico (55%) and India (52%). Same goes for negative employee reviews online (41%), application portals that are not mobile-friendly (29%) and workplaces that have a “dated” feel (24%).
  • Customer success matters in recruiting: One in 4 Gen Zers say that having a negative customer experience with an organization would deter them from even applying to work there.

Help Gen Z advance: One in 5 say training and development is the top employee benefit

  • Bring out the best in Gen Z: To get their best work, Gen Zers say they need direct and constructive performance feedback (50%), hands-on training (44%), managers who listen and value their opinions (44%) and freedom to work independently (39%).
  • With advancement on the mind, Gen Z is looking for leaders to help them chart a path to promotion: One in 4 expect managers to clearly define goals and expectations (26%) and say regular check-ins during their first month makes for an ideal onboarding experience (25%).
  • Empowering leaders to meet these baseline expectations is critically linked to retention: Nearly 1 in 3 Gen Zers worldwide (32%) would stay longer at a company if they have a supportive manager, while respondents in Australia/New Zealand (51%), Canada (49%) and the U.K. (45%) would “never” tolerate an unsupportive manager.

Motivate with meaning: Money talks, but doing enjoyable work is just as important

  • When asked what would make them work harder and stay longer at a company, Gen Zers say doing work that they enjoy or care about is as important as a paycheck, which are the top two motivations cited by about half of respondents worldwide (both 51%).
  • Forming connections at work inspires Gen Z: Strong relationships with their teams will motivate nearly 2 in 5 Gen Zers (36%), especially part-time employees (40%).
  • A stressful work environment will do the opposite: Nearly half (48%) say stress at work would directly impact performance, and 1 in 3 (33%) would “never” tolerate a dysfunctional team.
  • Engage and reward: 1 in 3 Gen Zers say they perform best when working on projects they care about (37%) and when they are rewarded for a job well done (32%), but make it a cash bonus, says 43% of Gen Zers.
  • Financial insecurity—e. the fear of being broke—motives Gen Z to enter the workforce, most prominently in the U.K. (63%), U.S. (57%), Australia/New Zealand (56%), France (55%) and Canada (52%).
  • Make sure your payroll system and processes are in check: 39% of Gen Zers would never tolerate paycheck errors, with those in the U.S. (46%) and Mexico (45%) being least tolerant.

“No matter how successful an employer is in developing and motivating their workforce, working at the same company for your entire career is conceptually a thing of the past,” said Joyce Maroney, executive director at The Workforce Institute at Kronos. “Gen Z is just starting out professionally and feel they have much to gain from testing the waters at multiple companies and different industries. Yet, while few today will employ a single worker from hire to retire, organizations can certainly engage Gen Z from hire to re-hire. By creating a working culture where employees feel supported, inspired and equally empowered to enjoy life in and outside of work, employers can encourage their best people to “boomerang” back or otherwise create brand ambassadors for the future.”

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