How to recruit and engage Generation Z

Over the next decade Generation Z will dominate the workforce, so how can you recruit and engage young people from this generation? Here Alex Christie shares the factors that make a difference.

How to recruit and engage Generation Z

As we enter a new decade, 2020, many of us look back at the previous 10 years and marvel at how far we’ve come. But what about the future? What do we need to do now to ensure that in 10 years time we’re still attracting top talent to our companies, and performing at our best?

One thing that’s certain is that people are what transforms our workplaces and the way we do business. We’re all au fait with the Millennials and how they’ve been influential in creating the digital workplace, but what about their younger brothers and sisters, Gen Z?

By 2030 the Millennials and Generation Z are predicted to make up over 75% of the workforce; therefore it’s vital to start putting in place employee recruitment and engagement strategies for the youngest demographic now. But how do they differ from previous generations? Here are 5 ways:

5 ways to engage the Gen Z workforce

1. Give your corporate social responsibility policies the limelight

Gen Z are faced with many future challenges which affect their priorities. Building a career may have been a key driver for older generations in their 20s, but for Gen Z this might seem irrelevant. Challenges like climate change are causing many young people anxiety and a feeling of betrayal. Social injustices are also changing the way they think about their own lives, and the work they do.

Increasingly younger candidates are interested in where employers stand when it comes to the planet and society in general. They want to work with socially responsible employers and will even consider a pay cut to work for a company they feel shares their values over one that doesn’t. Employers should consider whether their corporate social responsibility policies are a selling point, and if so use these as a differentiating factor.

2. Promote opportunities to be entrepreneurial

In surveys, approximately half of Generation Z respondents say they would like to run their own business. That’s no good for you if your staff leave to go into competition with your organisation – taking skills and experience with them. So instead look for ways to promote the entrepreneurial spirit within your business, fulfilling this desire without losing talent.

Candidates in this demographic want jobs with clear career progression, autonomy to manage their workload and ownership of the projects they’re involved in. They also want the support of their employer to explore new opportunities and an open door if they have ideas they want to develop within the company. 

3. Work life balance

It’s not just Gen Z that want better work life balance, but this generation doesn’t view it as a perk – more as a business norm. Flexible and remote working policies can help Gen Z, and other employees, achieve the balance they desire. 

Whether you offer longer days for a shorter work week or telecommuting, businesses can actually benefit from these arrangements. Productivity has been shown to increase when employees work from home or can pack more into 3-4 days in return for a long weekend. If the nature of your business can accommodate flexible and remote working, it’s an easy way to attract and retain multi-generational employees and something that Gen Z expects.

4. Mental health support

Being the first fully digital generation, Gen Z are also exposed to some of the more adverse effects of being ‘always on’. Mental health is an increasing challenge for younger generations for all sorts of reasons. Social media, climate anxiety, the pressure to achieve, austerity, Brexit, family breakdown and other factors are often cited, coupled with a limited capacity in the NHS to deal with mental health issues.

Fortunately, Gen Z do not associate mental health problems with quite the same stigma as other generations; and are perhaps more in touch with their own mental health. Therefore, employees who make their mental health policies and assistance programmes a prominent part of their employer brand, can expect to attract and retain younger generations more effectively. On top of that, they can also expect lower levels of absenteeism as well as productivity and employee satisfaction gains.

5. Human interaction

You might think that a generation who spends so much more time online than their parents do, would be ideally suited to working in a virtual workplace. But while Gen Z have the skills to be highly effective in a digital workplace, they value human interaction highly too.

This generation wants to collaborate and work alongside their colleagues when the workplace allows. Even when working remotely they may gravitate towards coffee shops and coworking spaces. Getting the right balance can be a challenge for the employer, particularly when you have people working offsite and across many different functions, but there are ways to increase collaborative opportunities in the workplace and digitally.

Office design is a key area that has undergone a transformation in recent years with more collaborative spaces like hotdesks, breakout areas and creative brainstorming spaces. Digital transformation is also connecting employees in different locations through cloud computing solutions like Office 365. And many employers are transforming their company culture by making their organisations more social. While socialising with colleagues may not look much like work, these opportunities have a positive impact on collaboration, teamwork and productivity as well as giving Gen Z that much needed human contact they might miss during the working day.


Are your recruitment and retention strategies aligned with Generation Z? If you would like to discuss your technical recruitment needs and how to attract young candidates please get in touch. Our specialist technical recruiters can help you highlight those aspects of your business that will engage this demographic; whether they’re graduates or candidates making the next move in their career.

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