How to Retain a Gen Z Employee
As a generational consultant since 2012, I have a lot to say about the recent New York Times article, Need to Keep Gen Z Workers Happy? Hire a ‘Generational Consultant’.
With Generation Z entering the workforce, organizations are turning to generational consultants to help create a more harmonious workplace by better understanding each of the five generations’ vastly different sets of behaviors and expectations. Yet the generational consultants interviewed in the article focus on hiring Generation Z, suggesting tech-savvy methods to attract a Generation Z to your organization. No question, it’s very important to attract Generation Z to your organization. But what happens next? How do you retain Generation Z employees?
As a professional market researcher and Gen X parent of Gen Z’s, I have been researching and providing consumer and behavioral insights into Generation Z for clients since 2012, the year mobile technology radically appeared into the daily lives of our youngest working generation, Generation Z. These digital natives may demand video interviews and altruistic corporations, but once hired, employers will find that this pragmatic yet fragile generation seeks more from the organization than perks and causes.
Focus groups among recently hired Gen Z employees revealed five attributes of Gen Z that should be considered in hiring and retaining. First, Gen Z is much more than a cohort of 68 million digital natives seeking creative expression. Second, growing up in the 2008 Recession, Gen Z is very concerned about their financial future and seek long-term job stability more than Millennials report. Third, Gen Z is highly ambitious and focused, commencing training for their careers the first day they step foot on college campuses if not before then. They are very goal oriented, many strive for perfection in high school and are often accustomed to getting spoon-fed material or answers found instantly. Fourth, many feel anxious about the world, with over 30% having diagnosed depression and anxiety, and want to find safety in an organization they can grow with. Lastly, they want flexibility but prefer to collaborate in person because they’ve spent more than enough time isolating with their smartphones as teens and tweens.
Once inside the workplace, this generation continues to be social, seek diversity, pragmatic, collaborative and ambitious; their daily job function and performance is very important to them. Organizations should focus on communicating and performing the daily aspects of a job as well as creating five-year plans for prospective Gen Z employees. Some suggestions include: 1) have potential Gen Zers shadow employees of various functions before getting hired; 2) have Gen Z explore future roles within the entire organization; and 3) interview and discuss the work environment with employees of older generations. Focusing on what Generation Z wants beyond the hire will certainly lead to retention, which works in the favor of the organization as well as all five generations.
My recent articles about working with Gen Z include numerous suggestions on what Gen Z wants in the workplace. How to Work with Gen Z and Coordinating With Others in the Workforce for GAIA Insights