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As Generation Z (Gen Z) faces outsized economic repercussions from the global pandemic, employers can learn best practices from the workforce’s youngest group. Below you will find helpful insight on how to shape your employer branding strategy to attract Gen Z talent.

As fallout from the global pandemic continues to reverberate across the globe, the toll is having varying effects on different segments of the population. By age group, there is far more concern among middle-aged and elderly workers, but the financial impact on the youngest working generations may be more pronounced. 

With many Gen Z workers facing their first global financial crisis – arguably the worst in many generations – how they view the job market, their choice of employers and even how they are preparing for retirement is changing.

According to the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) capturing the onset of the coronavirus crisis, a 60% surge in unemployment benefit claims from 18 to 24-year-olds in April has been noted. When this is compared to March 2019, unemployment claims are up a huge 82%.

For the youngest generation in the workforce – defined as those up to 22 years old – the economic shock may be a wake-up call that the decade-long economic expansion couldn’t go on forever. As they look for answers that may not be as forthcoming as they would like, many Gen Z workers are likely to re-prioritise their career goals. 

How do Gen Z feel?

Changes in career goals and aspirations can influence how they rate attractiveness of employers. Our 2020 Randstad Employer Brand Research survey, conducted at the end of last year before the global pandemic outbreak, shows that up until that point, Gen Z respondents did not consider job security to be one of the top three attributes they valued most in an employer. A little more than a third (36%) said they preferred an employer that offered job security, but this quality trailed an attractive salary and compensation package (cited by 51%), a pleasant work environment (42%) and a good work-life balance (42%). 28% of British Gen Z’s are also looking for employers who offer diversity and inclusion. This is higher when compared to an older workforce. 

By contrast, job security was the second-most important quality that the oldest generation value, cited by 49% of workers aged 55 to 64. Similarly, Gen X workers also cited job security as the second-most desired quality (47%) in an employer.     

With little warning, Gen Z workers, many of whom are about to enter or just recently entered the workforce, had a thriving global economy taken away from them. Not only do many now find themselves unemployed due to the crisis, but for those coming into the job market, it will be much harder to secure jobs in the months ahead as they compete with other generations in the marketplace. 

With one-third of Gen Z workers surveyed still in school, a bleak jobs market may be waiting for them in the months and possibly years ahead. 

Randstad found that even before the crisis began, just 29% of Gen Z respondents were completely confident that their company provides long-term job security – the lowest percentage among all generations.

Another way in which Gen Z may be affected is their outlook on job hopping. One-quarter (24%) told Randstad that they had changed jobs because they felt a lack of purpose in their work, which was the highest level among all age groups. This outlook may significantly change as unemployment rises and opportunity to find work they find meaningful becomes more unlikely. 

As many Gen Z workers are quarantined at home, they are finding innovative ways to use technology to stay connected. They are spending more time networking and communicating with the outside world through video calls/quizzes with friends and colleagues, and social media apps such as TikTok and Instagram. 

There are indeed ways in which organisations can learn from the youngest generation in the workforce. Through their adaptability and networking skills, Gen Z workers may be the most resilient during a time of extreme challenge. And as many within this group are just about to enter the labor market, the hardship they face will be a foundation on which their careers will always be built upon.

Our specialist team can help your organisation find the best new talent.

Here’s how you can leverage Gen Z's standout attributes:

Learn Gen Z’s socialisation habits.

As the most connected generation ever, this group is exceptionally prepared for remote and virtual relationships. By understanding how they are leveraging video calling platforms, social media, how they communicate over different channels and the way information is shared, your business may find new ways to keep your workforce more connected and engaged. 

Optimise technology for the best experience.

When social distancing went into effect, companies scrambled to enable their workforce to work from home. Now that most have implemented technologies to facilitate this, is the experience conducive to productivity? Gen Z is perhaps the group most adept at using technology to create a satisfying experience so consider their views on how best to leverage digital tools to your advantage. Recent research from Milkround revealed that video conferencing has surpassed email as the most widely used form of business communication during lockdown. Younger workers are taking advantage of their tech savvy status. It’s no surprise that Skype/Zoom/Google Hangout usage has spiked for both business and social interaction - 70% of Gen Z workers are also taking to video platforms to interview for new jobs.

Don’t overlook the importance of real facetime.

While it may seem contradictory, the digital generation also craves one-on-one interaction with managers and colleagues. Citing a survey conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc., the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 75% of Gen Z respondents said they prefer face-to-face meetings with supervisors and more than a third preferred this method when getting feedback from co-workers. Make sure during the current lockdown that you schedule such meetings over video to prevent feelings of isolation and dissatisfaction.

As businesses around the country seek ways to keep their workforce motivated and engaged during the pandemic crisis, learning from while inspiring their workforce will be key to maintaining a high level of morale. The experience and upbringing of Gen Z workers may help company leaders to accelerate that process and create learnings that may be used for some time to come.

More tips on how to attract engage with and retain Gen Z workers.

Our UK 2019 Randstad Employer Brand Report provides you with valuable insight into employer branding, reputation, company culture, the country’s most desirable sector, job searching habits and much more. See the report here.