GEN Z -The Purpose Generation

I attended a recruiting conference recently and a presentation on Gen Z’s stuck with me.  As our clients are struggling to hire, they should be planning for their future employees and a large portion will be  Gen Z’s

Gen Z includes people born between 1997 – 2012 so roughly ages 10 – 25.  According to the magazine Fast Company, Gen Z’s will comprise 30% of workforce by 2030. Gen Z’s are the largest, most diverse and inclusive generation ever and they wear it as a badge of honor. Because of the Pandemic, many of them didn’t get to go to their prom, graduation, sporting events and weren’t on campus for college, which made them resilient.  They are extremely tech savvy and their spending power is estimated at $360B.

Gen Z is very purpose driven. They prioritize purpose over profits. They will research a company before they buy from them to make sure the company aligns with their values. They don’t want to buy your brand, they want to join it and immerse themselves in the company.

When Gen Z’s choose a company to work for, the company’s culture is of utmost importance.  They value companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion and make them feel like they belong.  Gen Z’s crave engagement and experiences and being a part of a community.

The things that are most important to them are:

  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Financial wellness
  • Professional development

They don’t live to work; they work to live and they are looking for work / life harmony. They work hard but it’s not about how many hours they put in; it’s about working smarter. They want a company that values their work and ideas. They prefer a hybrid work model, where they can go into an office 1 – 2 days a week to build a connection with their colleagues.

TikTok is their most popular social media platform, followed by Instagram and then YouTube. They are finding jobs on TikTok! 50% of Gen Z is on LinkedIn, 28% is on BeReal. They love emojis, gif’s, meme’s and bitmojis. They also love audio content, especially music and podcasts, where they can listen anytime.

Companies need to engage Gen Zs’ entrepreneurial mindset and set up incubators where Gen Z’s can discuss new ideas for the company. Gen Z’s want to be engaged with the companies they work for and setting up mentorship programs helps with that engagement. Create communities for them to be a part of and engage with different departments in the company, such as book clubs, running clubs, etc. Also, make sure your company prioritizes mental health and offers mental health days (we’re starting to see companies offering 1 mental health day a quarter). If you want to grow and bring in new talent you have to engage and show them that you and your company care.

It’s Okay to Negotiate

It’s okay to negotiate during the offer stage of potential employment.  Both the hiring company and the candidate have presumably completed a successful interview process to get to this point.  Both sides have decided that the role, responsibilities, organizational culture, and employee value proposition match well for both sides.

Before the offer letter is drafted, the candidate will likely be asked, “How does this opportunity compare with others you’re exploring…If an offer were extended, would you accept?”  An outline of what the offer will look like should be shared.  Answer these questions and address each point openly and honestly.

Since both sides are working with a professional recruiter, when the formal offer letter is drafted, both sides should be in relatively close alignment with compensation offering / expectations, benefits, terms, and conditions of employment, etc.

We’ve established that negotiation is an acceptable practice for both sides.  The key now is to remove emotion during the negotiation process.  Be transparent.  On the company side, define what is not open for discussion, but articulate the ‘why’ behind not being able to move in certain areas.  The candidate may not understand your perspective at first.  On the candidate side, respond with what you would like to request to be changed in the offer.  Neither side should only focus on money.  While there may need to be some adjustments made, focus on the entire opportunity:  meaningful responsibilities, professional and personal growth, location, flexibility, perks, internal support, etc.  It’s important to address all concerns at once during negotiation.  Don’t address one on one, and don’t go back with additional points when you’ve completed negotiations.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate during the offer stage.  Both sides have agreed they ‘like’ each other.  The  negotiation process is not a protagonist vs. antagonist exercise.  It should be a well thought out, researched and completely transparent process.  One that is healthy for both the hiring company and candidate.

Retain Employees with Open Communication

Retention seems to be a strong focus for most of my clients. The Great Resignation saw more than 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their job in 2021.  The mass exodus was linked to low pay, lack of career opportunities, shifting priorities, and employee burnout (which is fueling Quiet Quitting)  As a result, Exit Interviews and Stay Interviews have become much more important.  Exit interviews are completed before the employee’s final day after they gave their 2 weeks’ notice.  Stay interviews are with your current employees to assess how they are feeling about the company. Below are a few examples of questions to ask in each type of interview.

Exit Interview Questions:

  • What prompted you to begin searching for another opportunity?
  • Do you feel your manager gave you what you needed to succeed?
  • What did you like best?
  • What did you like least about your job?
  • Do you think your job has changed since you were hired?
  • Did you feel your achievements were recognized throughout your employment?
  • Do you feel you had necessary training to be successful in your role?
  • What can we improve on?
  • Did you share any of the concerns we discussed today with the company or your manager before deciding to leave?

Stay Interview Questions:

  • Which aspects of your job make you eager to come to work each day? Which aspects do you not look forward to?
  • How well do you believe your talents are being utilized? What skills do you possess that you feel aren’t being utilized?
  • What are your career aspirations? How are we doing in helping you accomplish them here?
  • Have you ever thought about leaving the company? If so, what caused you to consider leaving? Why did you decide to stay?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face?
  • Is there anything you’d like to change about your job?
  • Are there things you would like to change about your team or department?

According to Gartner Consulting, the pace of employee turnover is forecasted to be 50-75% higher than companies have experienced previously and the issue is compounded by hiring taking 18% longer than before the pandemic.   You need to evaluate your company and drive strategies that will help keep and attract new employees.

 

To Adjust or Not to Adjust, that is the Question

The labor market might be cooling off “a bit” but people are still in control of their destiny when it comes to switching jobs and considering new opportunities to advance their career or earn more money. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, those who switch jobs have seen annual average earnings increase of 8.5% vs. receiving 5.9% for those who stayed with their current employer. While US employers say they expect the average raise to be 4.1% in 2023, which would be the largest hike in 15 years, according to a survey of more than 1,400 organizations from advisory firm Willis Towers Watson. In 2022, the average increase in compensation due to a job change in the electrical distribution industry was 12.6%. With many employees expecting their company to pay adjustments that fully compensate for the staggering 9.1% cost of living increase in 2022, may be sorely disappointed.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people in 2022 and only 6% reported any cost-of-living adjustment and only one was paid a retention bonus. Not everyone is money motivated, and you can impose changes that will help you not only attract but retain talent.  A very large percentage of respondents to the WTW survey (69%) said they have increased flexibility for remote work. And nearly 60% are putting more emphasis on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion. 26% have implemented rewards programs ranging from discounted ‘swag’ at the company store, to all-inclusive vacations for top performers. A one-time hit the P&L can go a long way to retain and attract talent to your organization that will pay dividends well beyond that trip.

If you’re an employer trying to recruit or retain talent, money isn’t the only thing that’s important to jobseekers, but it is a driving force with inflation continuing to rise. Providing high-quality talent, a 10% raise may feel like a lot but considering the cost of turnover and potentially having to pay a new candidate more anyways, 10% doesn’t feel too horrible. Unfortunately, that money may not go too far. The industry’s inability to fill critical roles is not new, but now more than ever, it’s time to consider the net effect of inflation on your employees. If an employee is feeling the pinch, they will look, and for those looking, they will have multiple opportunities and often multiple offers, the traditional counteroffer play to keep your people is failing, so maybe that 10% cost of living adjustment is a lot cheaper than it appears on the surface.

 

+$3,536

Annual increase in pay based on median 12-month change in hourly wages for a full-time, year-round worker.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Wage Growth Tracker

 

Filling up the tank is costlier +$1,551

Annual increase in household spending on gas based on national average price of $4.87 a gallon on June 6 versus $3.05 a year earlier.
Source: Moody’s Analytics

 

Your new mortgage will cost you more +$4,368

Increase in annual cost of buying a $375,500 home with 20% down and financing the rest with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at an average rate of 5.09%.
Source: Freddie Mac

 

Paying more at the supermarket +$304

Increase in average household spending on grocery food, beverages and non-edible items, such as laundry detergent and paper goods, over the year ending in mid-May.
Source: IRI