Showcasing purpose, growth, and flexibility is keyÂ to crafting an EVP that attracts younger workers.
By Marta Chmielowicz
For a long time, âmillennialâ has been the buzzword ofÂ the business world. HR professionals have been thinkingÂ of little else but benefits to attract them, programs toÂ develop them, and strategies to manage and retain them.Â But with Generation Z about to enter the workforce, all ofÂ that will change.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Gen Z is theÂ generation born after 1997 that currently outnumbersÂ both millennials and baby boomers at 25 percent of theÂ total population. And they are joining a labor market inÂ a booming economy that is generally considered âfullyÂ employed.â
âGen Z workers are graduating with an abundance ofÂ choices of where they can work. They are entering a jobÂ market characterized by a 3.9 percent unemploymentÂ rate, a historically low level not seen since 2000,â saysÂ Claudine Macartney, executive vice president and CHROÂ of insurance provider American International Group Inc.Â (AIG).
To remain competitive, businesses are being forced toÂ adaptâbut many are struggling to align their employeeÂ value proposition (EVP) and recruitment strategies to theÂ changing needs of todayâs workforce. In fact, Head ofÂ Global Marketing and Employer Brand Strategy for AllegisÂ Global Solutions Craig Fisher cites a recent Allegis survey:Â As many as 69 percent of HR decision-makers claim thatÂ their organizations fall short in delivering the specificÂ benefits embraced by millennial and Gen Z workers.
âMany employers often fail to build vital relationships withÂ millennial and Gen Z workers due to weak talent practicesÂ that never evolved to keep up with changing needs. TheÂ weaknesses of immature practices span the talent lifecycle.Â For example, how many employers post job descriptionsÂ that are inaccurate or fail to align with candidate needsÂ and values? Without listening and adapting to the needsÂ of the talent they seek, companies lose great candidatesÂ before they apply,â says Fisher.
But truly connecting with Gen Z employees requiresÂ understanding what motivates themâwhereÂ they come from, what they value, andÂ where they want to be in the future.Â âConnecting with workers todayÂ isnât just about perks and fancyÂ break rooms,â Fisher adds.Â âItâs about listening to theÂ talent and understandingÂ their unique wants andÂ needs. Itâs about realÂ relationships. And itâsÂ about empoweringÂ them to achieve goalsÂ that are relevant andÂ compelling in terms ofÂ todayâs career and lifeÂ priorities.â
How can organizationsÂ differentiate themselvesÂ in such a competitive andÂ demanding talent marketplace?
According to Macartney of AIG, threeÂ considerations are key:
1. Purpose. The results of Monsterâs 2016 Multi-Generational Survey show that, like millennials, 74 percentÂ of Gen Z respondents are motivated by work that has aÂ sense of purpose compared to only 59 percent of babyÂ boomers. âGen Zs look beyond salary and benefits whenÂ considering a job,â Fisher explains. âTwo areas of employerÂ commitment rank high among their priorities: diversityÂ and inclusion and corporate social responsibility.â
In order to attract this portion of the workforce,Â organizations need to demonstrate their positiveÂ impact on the world around them. AIG has embracedÂ this approach as part of its outreach efforts to Gen ZÂ candidates.
âInsurance is one of the few professions where you areÂ directly helping people to prepare and respond to some ofÂ lifeâs most significant moments,â says Macartney. âWe findÂ this resonates well with Gen Z workers who are looking toÂ make an impact in their careers.â
Macartney says education is a large part of AIGâs strategyÂ to connect with Gen Z. âEducating this generation onÂ the insurance industry, what we do, and how it relates toÂ the world around us is an important way to engage,â sheÂ explains. By sharing industry insights in their outreach toÂ high schools and programs like Girls Who Code, AIG isÂ able to generate interest and passion amongÂ Gen Z candidates.
2. Growth. Gen Z is a uniquelyÂ entrepreneurial generation. HavingÂ grown up during an economicÂ recession with technologyÂ at their fingertips, theyÂ are pragmatic, motivated,Â resourceful, and committedÂ to working hard. âThe mostÂ common benefit that GenÂ Z workers look for is theÂ ability for both personal andÂ professional growth, such asÂ volunteer opportunities, careerÂ movement, and experimentationÂ that encourages contributions andÂ development,â says Hire VelocityâsÂ Chairman John West.
In fact, Monsterâs report shows that the vastÂ majority of Gen Z survey respondents (76 percent)Â believe that they are the owners of their career and willÂ drive their own professional advancement, and nearlyÂ half (49 percent) want to have their own business. For HRÂ professionals, this means that Gen Z employees are likelyÂ to jump ship if their needs are not being met.
âHaving grown up in a world of instant updates andÂ gratification, Gen Z workers do not fear change as muchÂ as previous generations and job hop more frequently.Â They are quick to ask âhow can I move up fast,â and dueÂ to the interconnectivity of their generation, they easilyÂ can, and do, compare their work situations to their peers,âÂ says Mary Southgate Dickson, internal talent acquisitionÂ consultant at Personify. But growth opportunitiesÂ throughout the entire employee lifecycle will help preventÂ attrition, she says.
âAt AIG, weâve made real progress in creating a strongÂ work environment that not only attracts Gen Z but retainsÂ them as well,â says Macartney. âWeâve incorporated a veryÂ strong performance management culture that aligns anÂ individualâs goals to the organizationâs larger purpose. WeÂ also provide routine check-in conversations with managersÂ and mentors to drive continuous improvement.â
These strategies are complementary to a two-year earlyÂ career development program that AIG leverages to recruitÂ a diverse range of workersânot just Gen Z. âThis programÂ involves a combination of in-person career developmentÂ seminars, mentoring from managers, and on-the-jobÂ training to help colleagues acclimate to a professionalÂ career in insurance and at AIG,â she says.
3. Flexibility. Like millennials, Gen Z is seeking workplaceÂ flexibility. According to Dickson, this includes flexibilityÂ in many forms: work schedules, dress codes, paid timeÂ off, and even career paths. âWhen designing a benefitsÂ program for a generation that is very individualisticÂ and often has a âthe world is my oysterâ mindset, it isÂ important to give them options, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach,â she explains.
AIG has tailored its recruitment strategy with flexibilityÂ at the core. âWeâve found that Gen Z workers are veryÂ skilled at blending work-life priorities into the wayÂ they operate,â says Macartney. âWe offer flexible workÂ arrangements and a very competitive paid time off policy.Â We also underscore AIGâs global presence across theÂ Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa.Â We find that Gen Z workers are attracted to companiesÂ that can offer them opportunities to experience workingÂ and living overseas.â
In return for flexibility, Gen Z employees are more likelyÂ to be comfortable working anywhere and everywhere.Â Monsterâs study reports that 58 percent, compared to onlyÂ 45 percent of millennials and 33 percent of baby boomers,Â are willing to work nights and weekends for higher pay. InÂ addition, 67 percent are willing to relocate for a good job.
By meeting Gen Zâs three basic needs, organizations canÂ bring a fresh, new energy to their work environments. ButÂ how can HR professionals tie these elements together toÂ deliver a comprehensive EVP?
â¢Â Engage online. To recruit Gen Z workers, employersÂ must deliver an exceptional candidate experienceÂ that is digitally driven. West of Hire Velocity says theÂ digital elements of the recruitment process can beÂ differentiators. âGen Z workers will be looking at allÂ digital aspects of the company and recruiting process:Â Is the career page and website mobile friendly? Is itÂ easy to access? Is there a simple application process? So,Â companies should find a way to utilize new technologiesÂ such as artificial intelligence to create new engaging andÂ tech-enabled recruiting strategies,â he explains.
Personifyâs Dickson recommends that organizationsÂ have user- and mobile-friendly career pages and provideÂ candidates with frequent updates from the recruitingÂ team throughout the entire hiring process. This willÂ resonate with a generation that is accustomed to speedÂ and efficiency.
Organizations also need to maintain an accurate onlineÂ presence. âGen Z is the more tech-savvy generationÂ and will do their research on a company before movingÂ through the application process,â says West. âCompaniesÂ need to maintain active social profiles, including GlassdoorÂ where 70 percent of candidates look at company reviewsÂ before making a decision. Responding to reviews,Â updating pictures on the culture, and making sure theÂ profile answers any questions that a young candidateÂ may have will all be important strategies to engage Gen ZÂ candidates.â
â¢ Illustrate the experience. A strong social media presenceÂ is also a powerful tool to depict the company brand andÂ employee experienceâtwo elements that are essential toÂ winning over young job candidates.
âIt is important that companies expand the traditionalÂ realistic job preview approach to include highlightingÂ the complete employee experience during recruitment,âÂ Dickson says.
For smaller companies that are unable to deliver theÂ flexibility and benefits that Gen Z desires, focusing onÂ culture and brand is an inexpensive way to differentiateÂ themselves from the rest of the marketplace. HRÂ professionals should leverage social channels to highlightÂ the unique career opportunities and experiences that GenÂ Z workers will have if they join the organization.
According to West, this can be accomplished byÂ showcasing:
- achievements and awards;
- growth plans;
- mentorship opportunities;
- team members;
- the company atmosphere and culture;
- the day-to-day of the job itself; and
- how employees can contribute and grow in the role.
âThe more detail the better,â West says. âCompanies canÂ also consider a âday in the lifeâ video walk-through thatÂ highlights the office and responsibilities of the role forÂ candidates.â
â¢ Embrace technology. Catching the attention of Gen ZÂ candidates online can be difficult. âTraditional recruitingÂ is a phone-based relationship, but the Gen Z generationÂ responds far better to texting or social media, whichÂ means recruiters need to adopt different tools (such asÂ text-based interviewing platforms) and tactics (like usingÂ hashtags on social media) to reach this audience,â saysÂ Dickson.
HR professionals need to stay ahead of the trends,Â meeting young job candidates where they are online andÂ utilizing recruiting technology to ensure a positive andÂ efficient experience. West believes that social mediaâand video in particularâare key to success. By postingÂ engaging media-based messaging on platforms likeÂ Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, HR leaders can moreÂ vividly communicate company culture and EVP.
According to Allegisâ Fisher, organizations can alsoÂ leverage advertising with good results. âTodayâs teensÂ would rather be at their own house playing with friendsÂ online than being in the same house to hang out. So,Â consider the multitude of in-game advertising that isÂ online, either gaming or on YouTube (the new TV),â heÂ says.
Driving Brand Unity
Although these strategies are targeted specifically toÂ the needs of todayâs newest generation of employees,Â organizations can leverage this evolution in recruitment toÂ improve their talent acquisition efforts across the board.
For example, AIG leverages its Gen Z recruitment strategyÂ to underscore a larger organizational push for greaterÂ diversity. âAttracting Gen Z workers is a part of a broaderÂ recruitment strategy at AIG,â says Macartney. âOurÂ goal is to draw a diverse pool of talented candidates,Â not only those early in their careers but also mid-careerÂ professionals who are switching industries along withÂ veterans and academics.â
This is possible because many of the benefits sought byÂ Gen Z are shared by a diverse range of professionals acrossÂ the workforce. Ultimately, things like wellness, flexibility,Â and job security are universally desired and can serve as aÂ common thread throughout an organizationâs brand andÂ talent acquisition strategy.
âBecause a positive work-life balance is a priority for allÂ generations in the workforce, organizations can convey aÂ unified employment branding message by creating an EVPÂ that focuses on the integration of employeesâ professionalÂ and personal lives,â says Dickson. âAll employees wantÂ to feel comfortable in the workplace, so companiesÂ should focus on creating a flexible employee lifestyleÂ that incorporates all aspects of life that are important toÂ workers, setting them up to be successful and happy insideÂ and outside of the office.â