An inviting, flexible and modern company culture will win the hearts of Gen Z.

A majority of UK companies already count Gen Ys in their employee ranks, but many will just begin to recruit Gen Zs over the next couple of years as this group graduates from university or begins working straight out of school.

Randstad’s research shows some important similarities and some clarifying differences in how the two generations view the workplace and what they want from their employers. By understanding and addressing these dynamics, employers can position themselves favourably with both Gen Ys and Gen Zs.

How to attract the Ys and Zs

An inviting, flexible and modern company culture will win the hearts of Gen Z. If your organisation doesn't offer the charm of ping pong tables or bring-your dog-to-work days, consider adding other cultural aspects that will appeal.

The Zs are likely to compare your corporate environment to the famously accommodating start-up cultures portrayed on TV shows and embodied by likes of Google and Facebook.

Top benefits expected by Gen Zs

  • workplace flexibility, paid time-off
  • midsize to smaller organisations
  • having both genders represented in the workplace
  • entrepreneurial environments (they may someday want to start their own business or be the boss)
  • company-provided wellness programs
  • colleagues who represent diverse expertise, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds

Gen Zs discuss work decisions with their parents nearly four times more than they do with their friends.

How to engage the Ys and Zs

When Generation Zs start working en masse, they will join their Gen Y counterparts whose workplace preferences have already prompted employers to re-evaluate corporate culture and adjust workplace practices to accommodate the multiple generations that now work side by side.

While the two youngest employee groups share some common workplace preferences, our research reveals distinct differences that will influence their level of engagement, work productivity and employer loyalty.

With just a small investment of time, employers can truly impact engagement among their youngest workers by addressing the preferences below, plus those that pertain to the specific role or work environment.

Top engagement boosters for Gen Zs:

  • having a mentor
  • receiving input and feedback
  • personalising their workspace
  • wearing headphones and listening to music while working
  • working hands-on with meaningful projects
  • communicating in person with bosses/colleagues
  • having honest leaders
  • Being listened to and having ideas valued
  • collaborating with hard-working colleagues and team members

Facebook is a distraction, and depression is an issue that might affect their work performance.

How to retain the Ys and Zs

Retaining the younger generations is sizing up to be an ongoing challenge for employers. Gen Ys have shown a propensity to switch jobs every couple of years, and we’ll see if Gen Zs follow suit as they progress through their careers.

Randstad’s generational research provides a number of useful clues about what motivates the Ys and Zs to stay on the job.

Top retention boosters for Gen Zs:

  • Opportunities to advance - and then more money
  • Mentorships and hands-on learning in team environments
  • Employers who give back to and provide jobs to the local community
  • Cross-functional programmes or projects
  • Mentor relationships
  • Technology that impacts productivity and makes teams more effective
  • Meaningful work

About the survey: Research findings are based on a survey fielded in the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom between April 9 and April 24, 2014. For each country, at least 200 respondents were surveyed with a minimum of 100 within each age group.