Generation Z: Making an Organizational Shift In an Already Competitive Talent Market

Amber Hyatt
by Amber Hyatt 13 Mar, 2016

Sixty million strong, Generation Z (born after 1995) is a demographic that is growing rapidly. Soon enough, they'll be leaving their dorm rooms and entering the workforce in droves.

As the labor market floods with Gen Z talent, human resource professionals must learn the best ways to attract and retain them.

Not only is Gen Z the future of the workforce, but they'll also be costly to replace similar to what we're seeing from millennials now. In fact, data from Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm, estimates that it costs between $15,000 and $20,000 to replace millennial employees; increased turnover driven by Generation Z would only accelerate those costs.

Understanding Gen Z's Marked Traits

Blissfully unaware of a world without Internet, Gen Z is the most digital native generation to date, raised with a smartphone in hand, a tablet propped up and limited (if any) exposure to dial-up. This, as one would expect, has fostered an on-demand culture that seeks immediate resolution to questions and problems and produces short attention spans, which demand variety in the workplace.

Variety fosters drive, though, as Gen Z is eager to connect with their peers and push ideas in an open and collaborative environment.

Attracting Talent

To compete for the best new talent, businesses must incorporate new strategies that appeal to a completely different generation. Here's where to start:

Beef up the employer's brand: According to internal data, nearly three in four HR professionals don't have a formal branding program, and 51 percent aren't considering one.

Gen Z's are shopping for jobs like they're browsing Amazon, so the employer's brand and how it's communicated online will be vitally important to attract top talent.

Offer robust benefits related to career goals:

When asked by Adecco what they'd look for in their first job, Gen Z's prioritized career growth (36 percent), fulfilling work (19 percent) and stability (19 percent) over more traditional benefits. A workplace culture that enables mentoring, on-the-job learning and personal development is essential.

Introduce a service element:

Gen Z's desire to capitalize on entrepreneurial visions and make a positive impact in their communities is strong. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 26 percent of 16 to 19 year olds already spend time volunteering.

Offer flexible work environments:

Gen Z's expectation of connecting wherever, whenever, eliminates the traditional 9-5 office environment. Gen Z's don't feel bound to a specific time and place every day, and are far more concerned with the work they produce versus where they produce it.

Employee Retention

Thought millennials were quick to jump at new opportunities? They're a cakewalk compared to the 83 percent of Gen Z's that believe three years or less is the appropriate amount of time to spend at their first job, with more than a quarter looking to jump ship in a year or less according to Adecco.

Variety will be crucial to Gen Z retention. Organizations must introduce "microlearning," and provide opportunities for Gen Z's to contribute at a meaningful level.

Additionally, organizations must nurture and provide development opportunities at every turn. Connect Gen Z's with their peers for guidance through mentorship and prioritize consistent training and feedback. These approaches enable organizations to groom Gen Z's for leadership roles while maintaining a high level of engagement.

Gen Z Is on the Way

While there's still a lot to learn about millennials, Gen Z's are bringing an entirely different set of challenges. Although a tall task, companies must embrace an organizational shift in order to fully prepare for the next generation in the workplace.

Amber Hyatt, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is director of product marketing for cloud-based talent management solutions provider SilkRoad. She can be reached at