New economic realities, new needs – your hiring efforts probably include Generation Z and staff working from home. Over 60 million Gen Z workers will be in the workforce by the end of 2020. How do you attract and retain these workers? What if they want to work from home? What if your workforce is distributed? 

If you are asking yourself and your business these questions, we are here to help. We have hired Gen Z staff and learned about their needs, wants, and productivity along the way. We have good news: Gen Z workers can bring tremendous value. They can bring your company to new digital trends. And they have ample energy which, if harnessed correctly, can invigorate your staff and culture.

These workers are savvy with technology and digital media. You don’t need to change and neither do they; but you should be aware of what they value so that your business needs are met through their labor and valuable contributions.

1. Brand and culture

Always insure that your company brand aligns with the atmosphere of your place of work. Although the workforce might be new to Gen Z applicants themselves, they may already be aware of your employer brand, and this forms a preconceived notion of the culture and values of the business. That perception may decide the type of applicants that you are getting.

How do you dress? How do you expect Gen Z staff to dress? What modern technology have you implemented? Are you open to new tools or resources to modernize your business? Does your Gen Z worker have ideas? My guess is that they do. You should ask them!

Do not seek to build a particular image of your company; make sure that your brand aligns authentically with your own internal culture. Gen Z applicants want the story they hear to suit the day-to-day experience as they come on board during the recruitment process. When it doesn’t, they would have a lot less chance of sticking around.

2. Learning and growth

Many Gen Z members regard a four-year college degree as vital to potential career success, and they are rapidly becoming the most educated — and debt-laden — generation in history. Providing opportunities for growth and learning is important, as organizations investing in learning and skills / capacity development would be especially appealing to this cohort.

When I hired my last employee I asked her what she was optimizing for? Did she want to optimize for growth? Learning? Impact? Travel? Compensation? Leading a team? A mixture of all the above? She replied confidently that she wanted to grow in the role and learn new skills. Hearing this was valuable for me as it enabled me to place her on projects that provided new learning moments. Her goals were congruent with my ability to provide coaching and opportunities. Many Gen Z staff I have interacted with feel the same way. Money is a necessary outcome and everyone wants to make more of it. But growth, unlike cash, is not a commodity. It is unique. You might not be able to compete on various benefits or perks but you can certainly take time to help your staff grow and learn different aspects of the business.

3. Meaning and community

Gen Z is the most politically engaged generation ever and they want meaningfulness in their work. For these workers, social-good programs are a valuable source of pride. It will definitely add to your overall brand culture, and likely to your bottom line, as purpose-oriented workers consistently outperform those who are less involved.

How often do you empower your staff – remote or otherwise – to get together and bond. Do you have social functions, happy hours, offsites, or just general catch up calls? Does your staff bond when you are not present? Many of your Gen Z workers will want to feel a connection to their work or their peers. How are you facilitating this? 

I once worked for a very senior “old-school” manager. He was not interested in me as a person or connecting me with other like minded people at our firm. Everyday I woke up before work and felt a sense of social isolation. Eventually I left the firm, which hurt them. But the real cost was that other friends asked me about working there. I told them plainly that it felt isolating and devoid of meaning. None of my friends will not work there. I was perfectly candid and didn’t harbor angry feelings towards my past employer. But Gen Z staff will communicate and validate working decisions among each other. Create meaning in your work to the best of your ability and you will be rewarded with loyalty and high employee satisfaction. 

4. Communication and feedback

Gen Z is accustomed to online chatbots and automated customer service work-flows — and that user experience is the basis for their aspirations as candidates and employees. Ironically, however, they also understand the potential for negative effects of technology on their interpersonal skills, and 83 percent state they prefer online contact to in-person conversation. This means that nearly all of your Gen Z staff will be more comfortable speaking, getting feedback, and working online. So let them do so! Find ways to use online tools and resources that empower these workers.

5. Autonomy and flexibility

Gen Z wants — nay, demands — flexibility, autonomy, access to various work-life circumstances, and harmony between work and living. They want community and will work around the clock if surrounded by peers and friends. They don’t want to be lonely or work on stuff devoid of meaning (does anybody?). They shape their jobs in a way that suits their daily lives, not the other way around, and they readily understand how technology makes flexibility easier. They are comfortable working late at night or on the weekends. They want to grow; they want to work with passionate people; they want to work for a firm that stands for something larger than just making money. And who can blame them?

Think about the context of the Gen Z worker today. They have a belief that they can do big and great things. You can run basically any type of Work From Business and still make people feel inspired. If you can’t, what kind of managerial role are you performing? 

Building these five aspects into the culture of your company will help you attract, hire, and retain Gen Z workers. Remember my own experience: I left a firm and advised my friends not to work there. It wasn’t a threat. It was just candid feedback. Much like if you stay at a bad hotel on vacation and your parents ask if they should check it when they next visit that same location? You will tell them, in no uncertain words, to pass. Don’t let that happen to your company.

And if these Gen Z workers don’t respond to your efforts at recruiting and hiring, don’t lose track of them; this generation expects you to keep in touch, and you never know when their situation will change.