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.

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.


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