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Generation Z in the workforce: What do they really want from HR?

Tuesday September 15th, 2020

Estimated time to read: 2 minutes


The oldest members of Generation Z are turning 23 this year. By this point, some may have completed college with a few internships or part-time jobs under their belts. As this up-and-coming generation enters the workforce, HR leaders will need to know how to successfully recruit and retain Gen Z employees.

Talent professionals can more skillfully cater to this population after understanding some of Gen Z’s top values and desires. Here’s what Gen Z employees want from HR:

Faster applications

Whereas older generations might be more willing to wade through a complex online application — one that requires them to copy and paste text from their resume or answer an endless stream of qualifying questions — Gen Z doesn’t have the patience. 

According to a report by the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), 60% of Gen Z candidates expect job applications to take less than 15 minutes to complete.

What this means for HR is that it’s time to rethink and reboot the application process. Take a page out of the recruitment marketing playbook and use a short and sweet application as a lead magnet to gather candidates’ basic information. Once you’ve gained a Gen Z candidate’s interest, follow up with a screening call or questionnaire to evaluate their suitability for the role. 

Check out the applicant tracking and hiring functionality available in the iSolved platform to simplify your application process and appeal to members of Gen Z.

Consistent, face-to-face communication

Despite their reputation as the first true digital natives who refuse to let go of their mobile devices, Gen Z workers tend to prefer in-person communication on the job.  

The CGK study revealed that two-thirds of Gen Z employees might not stay at their job if they don’t receive feedback from a manager every few weeks. One-fifth require daily feedback in order to stick with an employer. 

Additionally, three-quarters of Gen Z employees prefer to receive this manager feedback in person, according to The Workforce Institute at Kronos. Roughly two-fifths favor face-to-face collaboration over email and text, and about the same amount would rather have an in-person onboarding experience. Of course, the current health situation may impact your company’s ability to provide an in-person welcome and onboarding, but look for ways to implement a personal touch, even from a safe distance.

Given these preferences, HR leaders should emphasize a warm, personal welcome. They should strike a balance between hands-on training opportunities and e-learning courses to cater to this age group’s digital aptitude and desire for communication and feedback. They can also encourage supervisors to conduct regular check-ins, especially during the early stages of employment. 

Trust and flexibility

As the workforce leans into adaptable and remote work arrangements, Gen Z candidates will continue to seek out employers who offer flexibility — and who trust that these younger workers won’t abuse it. According to Kronos, trust came out as the #1 quality Gen Z employees sought in an employer. 

The same report found that approximately 1 in 3 Gen Z respondents will not tolerate the rigidity of an employer that doesn’t give them a say in their work schedule. Furthermore, 3 in 10 expect employers to offer paid mental health days to promote well-being and a better work-life balance. This is significant since about 40% of Gen Z employees believe their anxiety may be a barrier to success.

To attract and retain Gen Z workers, employers should emphasize independence and ownership over projects and schedules, while offering comprehensive benefits and highlighting the ways they can support each candidate’s ideal work arrangement.