Generation Z—born between 1995 and 2010—is entering the workforce. And that’s good news for companies looking to create a talent advantage.
This massive demographic segment is 61 million strong in the U.S. alone, outnumbering millennials. In fact, once the last of their ranks has joined the labor pool, sometime within the next decade or so, experts estimate that one in five workers will be Gen Z.
Finding the right talent in today’s competitive market is challenging for all businesses, but particularly so for smaller teams with fewer resources. This influx of new workers is an exciting opportunity not only due to their massive size, but because Gen Z holds a key advantage for many companies: They’re the most entrepreneurial generation in recent history.
This generation grew up watching adults navigate the nascent gig economy, as well as young entrepreneurs who built million and billion dollar businesses on new ideas like ride sharing and entertainment streaming. So, it’s no wonder these new candidates are taking that fresh-thinking attitude with them into the workplace.
Gen Z’s tech-savvy and entrepreneurial nature could be a powerful addition to any team, helping companies improve agility, become more creative and forward-thinking, and revitalize workplace culture. However, finding, hiring and retaining them requires knowing a few key insights. Here’s what you need to know about harnessing the power of the workforce’s newest generation.
Focus on Individualized Experiences
If millennials were “digital natives,” then Gen Z workers are digital gods—they have technology embedded in their DNA. As a result, they want personalized information—and they want it now. To attract them, focus on creating a unique, on-demand candidate experience.
One of the quickest ways to lose Gen Z candidates is to leave them hanging after an initial outreach or interview. Instead, give them individual feedback and next steps within 24 hours of contact—or sooner, if possible. If you want to bring them back for another interview, tell them quickly.
As employees, Gen Z wants regular feedback about their performance. But you don’t need to haul them into the office for a formal review. Send a quick text or have a brief chat after your meeting. Let them know if they’re on track or redirect them and suggest where they might need to strengthen some skills in order to succeed.
Appeal to Their Tech-Savvy Entrepreneurial Streak
Don’t expect to win over this cohort with outdated technology, stodgy software or archaic business practices. Gen Z believes in the power of technology and is adept at using it. After all, their peers—and even their younger counterparts—are creating lucrative businesses through YouTube and other social media where just one good idea could be the next Uber or Airbnb. If your company has “shiny [tech] objects,” use those as a selling point for Gen Z candidates.
But, more importantly, show them how their work will be meaningful and contribute to the company overall. They want to have an impact. Being a small part of a big machine is OK, as long as they can see the purpose of their work and how their daily activities will matter in the big picture.
See also: Does Generation Z have an image problem?
This need to contribute makes Gen Z exceedingly valuable employees. Include them in brainstorming and planning sessions and invite them to contribute ideas. They will help bolster your company’s culture of innovation, and you may be surprised at what they bring to the table.
Help them Grow
As a pragmatic group, Gen Z seeks stability and may be the first generation to be especially concerned with benefits like retirement planning and health insurance at a young age. The shadow of the Great Recession looms large in their memories, which left them understanding the value of upskilling regularly and preparing for a rainy day.
As employees, Gen Z wants the opportunity to grow and learn. This generation grew up with access to virtually any information they wanted through a Google search or YouTube video (Just ask the colleges and universities they attended). They are serious about upward mobility and want to know how they can grow within your company.
This will require a thoughtful approach to career planning. If you don’t have multiple layers for growth in your company, show them how they can rotate through different roles to learn new skillsets or get a more hands-on experience wearing multiple hats in a smaller business. Show them how you’ll invest in their learning through certifications, conferences and other third-party options. Gen Z wants to know how you’ll invest in them before they commit to investing in you.
Strike the Balance
Gen Z is simultaneously futuristic and traditional. This generation is marked by exceptional technology aptitude and a forward-thinking approach, but also by an old-school thriftiness and commitment to values.
Attracting and keeping these valuable employees requires a combination of good fundamentals, including employee-development opportunities and benefits, as well as an ability to nurture and give them room to grow. Those employers who strike the right balance will reap the rewards of an engaged and entrepreneurial talent pool.
Emily He is senior vice president of HCM cloud at Oracle.