While recruiters and start-ups scratch their collective heads to figure out what the newest generation to enter the workforce want, new research expects Generation Z (Gen Z) will be more selective of where they work and how they work than any other age group in employment today.
Two in three Gen Z employees will decide whether they’d like to work for a company within five minutes—even shorter if they’re men. Gen Z males are much more likely to make a snap decision, with a quarter doing so in 30 seconds or less, compared to just over one in ten women.
The study, conducted by Powwownow, found that one in five Gen Z employees base this judgement on the company’s job advertisement, and a further 19 per cent make their decision after looking at the company’s website. Nearly half decide before even reaching the interview stage.
“UK businesses need to appreciate that the new generation entering the workplace expects different things from their employers. They make decisions much faster, which therefore puts employers under increasing pressure to positively market their workplace to candidates – beyond just pay,” Jason Downes, MD of conference call company Powwownow said. “With talented prospective employees making a decision in less than five minutes, employers need to tailor their approach or risk losing out on a pool of talented young digital natives.”
The survey of 1,000 18 to 23-year olds also found that men are most likely to make a decision about a potential employer when looking at the initial job description, while women are more likely to make up their minds once they’ve meet their potential colleagues.
Gen Z, many of whom are graduates with sought-after digital skills, consider flexible working a main attraction of a new job, with a third of young people saying they wouldn’t apply if flexible working wasn’t an option. Technology is also a deciding factor for this age group, with two thirds considering up to date technology as important or very important in allowing them to work effectively, with a further 30 per cent indicating it as vital.
The current definition of flexible as outlined by the government, is focusing on the benefits to the employee; “A way of working that suits an employee’s needs, such as having flexible start and finish times, or working from home.” However, offering flexible hours has been linked with numerous business benefits, such as increased productivity, retaining and attracting talent across all levels and lower levels of absenteeism.
A separate study into white collar flexible working by recruitment consultancy Ten2Two earlier this year highlighted the progress made by businesses in making it less of an anomaly, although not yet a norm. 91 per cent of employers feel attitudes among the business community are more positive towards flexible working now than they were ten years ago. while 71 per cent of white collar flexible workers agree there has been a positive change in attitude towards part time and flexible working only 11 per cent said they felt there had been a clear, positive change—something that will need redressing once Gen Z enter and eventually start to dominate the workforce.
The fight to recruit Generation Z
FIXR’s Nick Stone outlines what businesses need to know when looking to attract the best of Generation Z.
For more than a decade, employers have been obsessed with the millennial generation (Generation Y). And with those born (roughly) between the early 80s and late 90s set to make up more than half of the workforce in the next three years, it’s hardly surprising that businesses of all shapes and sizes have invested heavily in understanding and nurturing this generation.
But now we’re entering a new era, that of Generation Z. Unlike the millennials who came before them, this generation remains relatively little-understood. Yes, we know they grew up in a digital world, but with very few actually in the workplace, our understanding of their expectations of jobs and employers is pretty limited.
Attracting the best emerging talent is an essential part of a sustainable business model — so what do businesses need to know when looking to attract the best of Generation Z:
They’re massively insecure — millennials have been plagued by a reputation for entitlement, but Generation Z just feels lucky to get a job in the first place, let alone a job they actually like and want to stay in for a long time.
They want structure — perhaps linked to that is a craving for a structured applications process and an entry-level role that provides a clear route into and foundation in a business and career. But that doesn’t mean they want to feel like a number, or as if they’ve been selected purely based on the rank of their university. Generation Z prefers personable applications processes that emphasise the importance of culture and personality as much as intelligence.
They want to build their value — they might be insecure now, but they don’t want to stay that way. Generation Z is looking for jobs that help them gain experience and develop their value to potential future employers.
Don’t expect them to stick around for years — unsurprisingly, Generation Z sees its first job as a stepping stone, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable, and it doesn’t mean businesses can’t retain the best of Generation Z if they provide opportunities to shine and really make an impact on the business.
They think tech companies just do tech — this generation has developed an unhealthy idolisation of the big tech companies, thinking opportunities are limited to the top techies (and with little thought that there might be other normal business functions like finance, marketing, etc., that could be open to them without having to be a coding ace.
The insecurities and expectations of this emerging generation might put employers in the driving seat when it comes to recruiting, but the need for structure and desire for experience does mean Generation Z could lean towards big corporates rather than small businesses. Having said that, businesses that provide an alternative to the faceless applications process, and give employees the chance to use their skills to make a real impact, could avoid becoming a stepping stone and hold onto the most impressive talent to emerge from Generation Z.