Learning & Development, Recruiting

How Can HR Leaders Prepare Their Organizations for an Influx of Gen Z in the Workplace?

The oldest members of Generation Z are now hitting their early 20s and beginning to make their mark in the world of work. Gen Z is a unique group with a perspective founded on technology and rapid global change. As such, employers cannot treat them like any other generation—even millennials. Gen Z’s characteristics in the workplace are completely unique.

Moreover, Gen Z now makes up more than a quarter of the population. They are the new generation of workers and the leaders of tomorrow. As we speak, they are creating the workplace they want to see. So, how can HR professionals engage Generation Z in the workplace? To attract, retain, and learn from these individuals, you’ll need a custom-made approach based on Generation Z’s work expectations.

What Makes the New Generations of Workers Different from Millennials?

Although these two generations share a lot of similarities, there are some major differences that set them apart on a fundamental level.

Gen Z is the first generation, for example, to be born into the digital landscape—they didn’t have to adapt or learn, as many millennials did. This means that Gen Z has some built-in expectations for how the world around them operates. Gen Zs entering the workforce expect employers to be mobile-first and tech-forward so they can have the info they need at their fingertips at all times. If this doesn’t happen, they’re not just disappointed but also downright bemused.

Gen Z has amplified many of the causes and concerns that millennials initiated. Although millennials have called attention to the lack of diversity in many industries and workplaces, Gen Z has been the group to bring diversity and inclusion strategies to life. They have firm expectations of equality. Along with this Generation Z work expectation is a demand for fair pay. They are a more frugal generation (with 59% planning to save more as of 2020). They grew up watching their parents get through the Great Recession, so Gen Zs entering the workforce tend to be more money-conscious. With that comes the desire for equitable and livable wages.

Gen Zs also know how to work remotely. They haven’t had to evolve away from the office environment—their whole lives are remote. But that doesn’t mean Gen Zs in the workplace don’t need in-person interactions. Although almost half of pandemic new hires were onboarded remotely, Gen Z’s craving for connection with their coworkers is a key factor HR teams must consider.

Mental health is another hot-button issue for Gen Z. Often seen as the most stressed-out generation, they are reporting higher rates of anxiety and depression than other age groups—so much so that experts are calling it a “youth mental health crisis.” The ideal Gen Z workplace culture values employees’ well-being with wellness programs, mental health days, and other ways to lower stress at work.

How Can HR Teams Start Meeting Generation Z’s Workplace Expectations?

Employers are realizing that the way Gen Z shapes the workplace today will have a massive impact on how we do business tomorrow. What changes can HR leaders make to their hiring practices and workplace cultures to attract and retain the new generation of workers and give them a “home” while at work?

Prioritize Wellness

Make sure your employee wellness packages are dialed in for this generation. Gen Zs will expect to see this as a benefit your company offers. If they don’t see robust wellness initiatives at the hiring stage, they will likely choose another workplace.

An important factor in giving wellness to Gen Z (and other) employees is to individualize your programs. A wellness initiative doesn’t work as a one-size-fits-all solution. You must take into account what’s actually going on in your Gen Z employees’ lives and then adapt to offer them ways of coping, staying active, eating healthy, and expressing themselves safely.

Get Transparent About Money

Gen Zs aren’t just more frugal because of the economic conditions they’ve grown up in; they’re also less shy about discussing finances. Their interest in being paid fairly and making sure their pay is based on their skills and ideas rather than any other demographic means they’re willing to have tough conversations about compensation. In fact, 42% of Gen Zs reportedly share salary information with their coworkers.

This openness is, in turn, changing the way many workplaces operate. These employees are pushing for more transparent pay scales and for HR to help them understand how their hourly or project-based rates are calculated and awarded to ensure things are fair. Be as open as possible about your company’s pay structure to meet Generation Z’s work expectations.

Create A Unique Onboarding Process

Get creative in your onboarding process, especially if you lead a remote team. The first impression goes a long way, especially for Gen Z hires, who are likely choosing to begin their working lives at your company. For young hires to get excited and want to stick around, they need a memorable and inspiring first impression.

What could this mean for your workplace as you create an onboarding process focused on Gen Z workplace culture? Teach and show your company’s values in vivid and memorable ways during onboarding. You can also start by giving Gen Z hires an amazing collaboration experience right off the bat so they feel a sense of belonging at your organization. This can go a long way in improving retention for this new generation of workers.

Creating a workplace that Gen Z wants to dive into shouldn’t be rocket science. They’re already shifting the work environment into one they want and need. All you must do as a leader is be open to Gen Z’s characteristics in the workplace. Listen to them, and make the changes they expect so your company can be part of the workplace of the future.

Kara Hertzog is president of Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a global employer of record in more than 150 countries that specializes in payrolling and contractor management services for today’s contingent workforce. Founded in 1974 in San Diego, IES has grown into one of the city’s largest women-owned businesses and has been named one of its “Best Places to Work” for 10 years in a row.