In the industry that Bazaarvoice is in, I see a lot of articles about how businesses can market and advertise to Generation Z consumers — the segment of the population that was born between 1996 and 2010. The oldest members of Gen Z are finishing college in the next year or two, and as they’ve gotten older and built up buying power, companies have tried to unlock the secret to reaching and influencing Gen Z. Just like marketers try to define what Gen Z values in a brand, recruiters and HR professionals must understand what the Generation Z workforce values in their careers.
At Bazaarvoice, 73% of our workforce are millennials, so we have spent time and resources figuring out how to attract and retain this particular group of talent. As employees, millennials tend to value collaboration, flexibility, and career growth. But, it would be a mistake to assume that the Gen Z population wants the same. Based on our research and experience, here’s what the Generation Z workforce expects from companies they work for and how employers can meet those expectations.
Activism and inclusion
Consider the timeline of a Gen Zers life thus far. They have grown up alongside technology, the rise of terrorism, and economic and civil instability. There are a few notable events that have occurred, causing them to have a more inclusive outlook on life. For example, the legalization of gay marriage across different parts of the world. For Gen Zers, this is not a hotly debated topic but a constitutional right. In the US, the Gen Z population has grown up with an African American president. For many of us, this was a historical breakthrough, but for Gen Z, this was simply an accepted reality of their world. Because of the time they grew up in, Gen Zers value and expect inclusion across race, gender, and religious orientation.
For employers, your commitment to diversity, company values, and a larger mission will stand out to prospective Gen Z employees. They are the most diverse population to date, and they’ve grown up with diverse peers and families; it’s not surprising that they’d expect the same in the workplace. When making a purchase, Gen Zers are attracted to mission driven brands, and they’d like to work for them, too.
To attract the Gen Z workforce, businesses must prioritize corporate responsibility and have clearly established company values. Furthermore, companies should provide and support initiatives that reinforce these values. For example, many companies offer paid days dedicated to volunteerism or employer matching programs for charity donations. Workplace diversity does not happen overnight, but there are steps companies can take to become more diverse and inclusive. For example, companies can analyze whether they have gender pay gaps, practice “blind” screening and hiring, or set goals around bringing in more diverse candidates into the recruitment pool.
Make sure to highlight how your business contributes to the greater good — whether that’s through volunteerism, charity donation, or diversity initiatives. Equality is a non-negotiable.
Gen Z was raised during the Great Recession and have watched their parents, friends, and neighbors struggle with a declining job market and increasing debt. On the flipside, they’ve also grown up with the internet, social media, and YouTube and have seen the rise of a young generation of influencers and entrepreneurs. Because of this, they are ambitious and independent workers.
Gen Z is ready to work for a living, but these candidates expect to be compensated accordingly. Many Gen Zers are burdened with considerable student loan debt by the time they enter the workforce. If companies are looking to attract the best of the Generation Z workforce, prepare to offer opportunity and responsibility along with competitive salary and benefits, or risk losing to a company who will. Employers should analyze other companies’ salaries, bonus, and benefit packages, and prepare to extend competitive offers.
In addition, Gen Z employees don’t want to be just a cog in the wheel; they want to make an impact. Even for entry-level positions, employers should take autonomy, professional growth opportunities, continued learning, and project ownership into account when designing roles. These value propositions should be infused into everything from job descriptions to the recruitment and interviewing process.
If Gen Z candidates don’t feel like their employers care about their individual potential or contribution to the business, they will choose to work for another company that will.
The hyper-connected Gen Z has grown accustomed to the barrage of marketing and advertising that surrounds them at all times and has learned to see through it. They don’t trust advertisements and are more likely to trust recommendations from a friend or family member. What does this mean in terms of recruiting? Thanks to technology and social media, everyone can see a company’s true colors. Gen Z is hyperaware and distrustful of messaging or claims that ring false.
Businesses that have a reputation for making promises they can’t keep, practicing poor corporate ethics, or treating their employees badly will lose Gen Z candidates. Be sure your employer brand is authentic and consistent across all channels — you can be sure that Gen Z will be engaging with and researching potential employers across multiple different touchpoints, from social media to Glassdoor to in-person events.
Your business could also consider using your employees as authentic advocates for your employer brand. Give current employees the opportunity to share their stories and honest experiences; this will resonate with the Generation Z workforce and come off as more approachable. Competitive referral programs and employee advocacy initiatives are growing in popularity because businesses are recognizing the influence of current employees on a prospective candidate’s decision-making process.
When brands market to Gen Z, they should market their product or service as an extension of their identity. And employers should be no different. Know that they have a strong moral compass, are ready to work hard, and will hold employers accountable. As the Generation Z workforce enters the job market over the next few years, employers who deliver on these values will reap the benefits from this ambitious group.
To learn more about opportunities to work at Bazaarvoice, visit our Careers page.
A version of this post originally appeared on HR.com.