As Gen Z rises, 3 workplace shifts are emerging

Combine flexibility (for side gigs) and corporate responsibility with a generous salary and a cool job title to recruit and retain these emerging young stars—and top talent of all generations.

Gen Z gig workers

To hire the best of Gen Z, make your job like a gig.

Although millennials make up most of today’s workforce, Gen Z will make up a larger and larger segment as each year passes. This makes attracting Gen Z workers crucial to future business success—easier said than done with the booming economy fueling a competition for talent.

The nuances of generational diversity might not be top of mind when you’re strategizing how to attract and retain high-performing workers—rather than just filling a headcount. Even highly regarded employers sometimes rely on stereotypes or simply overlook non-visible traits in staffing assessments.

Today, five generations are working together, the most in modern history. Diversity in thought, work ethic, life experiences, communication styles, and technological savvy provide opportunities and challenges in recruitment and retention.

From the findings of a multinational survey that Kronos commissioned, here are three strategies to help attract and retain the best Gen Z talent:

Strategy 1: Support side jobs.

The gig economy has transformed the workplace and the workers who populate it. It’s not that everyone wants to work a gig job, but side hustles have become a norm.

According to the study from The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace, 46% of Gen Z participate in the gig economy. The study also found 18% of Gen Z employees have two jobs—a side gig plus their main job. Employers should not ignore that number.

Rather than discourage employees from taking on a side hustle, forward-thinking organizations should show they embrace and encourage gigs and passion projects. Doing so presents a golden opportunity to increase engagement, strengthen employee loyalty, increase productivity and become known as an employer of choice among entrepreneurial job-seekers.

Of note: As much as Gen Z is attracted to the gig lifestyle, only 10% are working at it full time.

Employers who focus on solutions and strategies to help Gen Z employees get the best of both worlds will excel in attracting and retaining high-performing talent from this newest generation.

Strategy 2: Be flexible.

What is it about gig jobs that most attracts Gen Z? It starts with flex appeal. More than half (55%) of survey respondents said the top benefit of working in the gig economy is schedule flexibility. On the flip side, they most fear a lack of stability (47%) and unpredictable pay (46%).

These results provide a useful glimpse into what Gen Z workers are looking for. Are your workplace policies rigid, or do you embrace schedule flexibility? The latter is something every employee desires, regardless of generation.

Once reserved for white-collar workers, it’s not crazy to offer flexibility to hourly workers who must be on site to do their jobs. AI-powered, mobile-first tech helps organizations coordinate staggered start times, enable real-time shift swaps that aren’t slowed down by manual managerial review, and approve time-off instantly because the system already knows whether there is adequate coverage—all while ensuring daily work demands are met.

Strategy 3: Communicate about career, mission and money.

According to the survey, Gen Z is enticed to work by quick advancement, independence and the ability to earn more money. Perhaps more than any other generation, it’s paramount that Gen Z employees see their career path and next milestone, as well as how they are contributing to the overall mission.

Title and advancement in the workplace matter to Gen Z employees. In fact, they measure success not just by their title, but how quickly they advance. Gen Z workers are looking for their employer to provide a clear and defined path for how and when they will get promoted.

Though not exclusive to Gen Z employees, money also matters. Despite all the anecdotal evidence about Gen Z caring most about the mission, among 16- to 18-year-old Gen Zers surveyed, 39% say they are most likely to measure their success by how much they earn.

HR leaders should think long and hard about how to reimagine how they communicate career pathing, professional development and compensation planning if they want their best Gen Zers to stick around more than a year or two.

Your culture matters

Having an engaged workforce is important for attracting not only today’s high performers, but tomorrow’s as well. Forty-three percent of Gen Z workers say that if a company has disengaged or unhappy employees, they would lose interest in working for that company.

In the age of Glassdoor and the employee-employer review, that means you may never get a chance to hire a promising candidate if you aren’t focused on developing a well-rounded culture that promotes engagement among all generations.

Gen Z wants what everyone wants: an employer who’ll encourage their passion projects, provide them the flexibility to negotiate their work and life demands, and offer stability to foster confidence in their financial independence. The technology finally exists to deliver these demands, which is something that every generation will benefit from.

A version of this post first appeared on TLNT.


4 Responses to “As Gen Z rises, 3 workplace shifts are emerging”

    Bill Van Eron says:

    Hi Julie, I strongly agree and lived your insights. This is far more up to date than the previous Ragan article I commented on. I value all generations, genders and ethnicity’s. My good friend Alex Pattakos – author of the OPA! Way. has long spoke to the value of attention to Others, Purpose & Attitude. As an evolved Conscious Designer & Advanced Systems Thinker, what I see excites me as all are major values-fueled opportunities that time after time earn the highest stakeholder regard. You are evidence that author Dan Pink in his book, Why Right Brainer’s will rule the future, was ahead of most large orgs time when he supported the value right brainer’s will offer, as I did for left brain dominated HP decades ago & advanced for today. He also advocated, as do I – why more women are further aligned to the values that will now shape a more conscious leadership.

    One thing of more I gathered about Millennial’s and Gen Z – polls show they strongly prefer entrepreneurial cultures, thus large corporations are at the bottom or off their list. In some ways this creates a wall similar to leaders that just “expect” success without enabling all to contribute to what really matters.

    Before I retire, I would love to help younger gens to see the option I took and never regretted. HP designated me as their top customer champion when I was doing design. But when I realized how and where HP – a company I loved – was failing to invest in their stakeholder ecosystem, I left my HP Brand & Design job to immerse myself 2 years in their customer facing – sales, channels, events, observational research, and then 4 years in HP’s market influencer – analysts, editors, social environs. I focused on earned trust, open dialog, inclusion, diversity and that earned the highest significance every time, fueling globally effective teams, the highest influencer regard and often contagious relevance.

    So the more we focus on what really matters to various stakeholders that do define all orgs worthiness with total transparency, being part of that values-transformation is far better than just expecting it.

    Keep up the great work Julie. I can easily see others who are on that path to shape a weconomy more feel proud to be part of.

    Barbara A MacRobie says:

    Every single Gen Z and Millennial person I know is desperate to find and retain a job. None of them can afford to be picky about corporate culture.

    Julie Develin says:

    It will be a great day when everyone won’t have to be picky about corporate cultures, because companies will “get it!” Thanks for reading, Barbara. Daily Headlines

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