The key to attracting & retaining your future leaders
The number of Gen Z workers (those born between 1996 and 2015) is expected to triple by the year 2030 and will soon make up 30% of the global workforce.
As these digital natives continue to enter the increasingly skills-short world of work, competition among businesses, to attract and retain graduates, will only intensify.
To secure the leaders of tomorrow, employers have come to realise that they need to evolve their Employee Value Proposition (EVP). They must align what they offer, to the expectations of Gen Z’s, who hold very strong opinions about what’s important to them when it comes to their careers.
So, what do graduates value from employment? As a mixed heritage, Gen Z’er (who believe it or not, does remember a time before the iPhone) here are a few things that I believe employers should keep in mind…
We want to work for a values-led and culture-driven organisation.
Of course, promoting your internal incentives and social get togethers are a great way to attract Gen-Z, but graduates want to feel an authentic connection to the values and culture of the business within which they are employed.
Research from Bright Network’s, What Do Graduates Want 2022/2023 Report, suggests that grads prioritise company culture when considering a role - 40% voted it as ‘most important’ when asked about prospective workforce traits.
Furthermore, the research found that 91% think about their prospective employer’s commitment to their employees’ mental wellbeing and 1 in 5 have changed their minds on which sectors they most want to work in, due to the pandemic.
So, company culture goes much further than shouting about your ‘dress down Fridays’ and team socials nowadays.
For a workplace culture to be authentic, your people processes, the way staff are expected to work and conduct themselves and any people-based policy or initiative need to stem from your core values. Gen-Z can sniff out values that don’t translate to real actions or behaviours a mile away! As the very over-used saying goes, ‘organisations need to live and breathe their company values’.
Gone are the days when companies can simply pop their snazzy company values on their website and then leave them there to collect dust. Companies need to translate these values into the everyday functions of their business and think about how they are being prioritised and demonstrated in a compelling way to the next generation of talent.
For example, it is one thing to say you prioritise employee wellbeing, but how does this translate into everyday work life? Give examples of how you are prioritising employee wellbeing now and, in the future. Make sure you are committed to creating a welcoming culture, where your values shine through in the people related actions and decisions you make every day.
We want to feel secure & included
For some businesses, this may involve taking steps to create a more inclusive culture. Gen-Z are the most diverse generation yet, and an organisation’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion is critically important to their decision-making when considering a new job.
According to Bright Network’s research, 89% think about an employer’s commitment to D&I, even before applying to a role.
Committing to educating leaders on how to hire, onboard and develop diverse groups, breaking down biases and celebrating employee differences are key steps to take to help junior employees feel valued and heard from the outset.
Stanton House recently created the Empathy Series, a series of internal workshops where we discuss topics such as neurodiversity, chronic illnesses, body image and mental ill-health in men (to name just a few), with the goal of greater inclusion and developing an empathetic working environment. This was an amazing initiative which allowed me personally, to highlight my own experiences with structural racism. It made me feel included and valued when I was asked to contribute and speak in this session – I felt cared for and that my experiences matter.
For me, the thing which made this extra valuable and truly made me fall in love with my employer was the fact that there were actions taken during this session. It wasn’t just me providing my personal viewpoint, but leaders went above and beyond to ensure that they took the learnings from this, to make their own hiring processes more inclusive.
Acknowledging that you don’t always have it right but will do whatever you can to make it right, is something which will go a long way, in helping more people, feel more understood, valued, and included.
We want career advancement
Interestingly, Bright Network’s research also shows that only 12% of graduates expect to still be in their first full-time graduate role after five years. To explore this further, I decided to ask graduates and undergraduates, in my network, how vital career progression was to them when considering a role.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, my LinkedIn poll revealed that career progression was most important to 54% when considering a role.
These findings are significant to employers who want to retain the brightest graduate employees. It’s essential that from the outset, hiring managers can articulate a clear career pathway, with plenty of learning and development opportunities along the way.
Why not future-proof your organisation and consider mapping out a five-year graduate competency framework and development plan to support your junior employees?
We want to be intentional about our career choices
As a recent graduate, I found that I was very intentional about my career choice. I wanted to take part in internships and voluntary work experience related to my career interests and found this an essential part of the process for me to ‘test’ the career path I wanted to pursue.
Partnering with local universities to launch and advertise internships and placement years is a brilliant way to become recognised as an employer of choice with both undergraduate students looking to explore their career options and graduates looking to secure a full-time position.
Moreover, allowing students to ‘try’ your business, through multi-disciplinary internships, will create a pipeline of talent already bought into your industry and organisation.
In support of this, it has been proven time and time again that hiring interns as full-time employers helps to improve retention rates. Employees who have previously interned at an organisation are much more likely to stay there for longer.
So, with a little effort, you too can ensure you’re not only attracting top Gen-Z grads but also retaining this generation for years to come.
In summary and after almost a year in my first professional post-graduate job, here are my top tips for employers…
8 actions employers can take to attract and retain Gen-Z talent
1. Recontextualize and recommunicate your Company values so that desired / expected actions and behaviours are authentic / resonate / align to the expectations of today’s graduates.
2. Do the same with your Employee Value Proposition! Is the value exchange what Gen-Z really want? On average, a graduate expects to be working 41.5 hours a week, but with an increasing desire for flexibility, as to when and how they work these hours, demonstrating you can accommodate the need for a good work-life balance is key.
3. Promote your wellbeing and D&I initiatives throughout the applicant journey (two of the most important considerations for this generation when considering a job) and ensure your hiring managers speak about them and their impact during the interview and onboarding process.
4. Ensure career progression is front and centre in all communications and articulate career paths with complete transparency from the very first candidate touch point.
5. Review what learning and development looks like for someone new to your industry and /or organisation. Do you provide opportunities to upskill, beyond what the day job requires?
6. Partner with local universities, offering their students graduate jobs / internships and / or placement years with your organisation.
7. Ensure your graduate jobs and / or internships / placement year schemes offer enough opportunity for graduates to test and try out what they might want to do long term.
8. Let’s not forget salary. With the cost of living increasing ensure that you offer a fair deal. According to Bright Network’s recent research, the average graduate expects to earn £27,270 in their first job, £1,955 more than last year.
If you’re interested in hearing more about how we delivered the Stanton House Empathy Series, please reach out to Senior Learning and Development Partner Esther.Boffey@Stantonhouse.com to get your hands on our content for free!
Or, if you would like to learn more about our current internship, graduate or experienced Recruitment Consultant opportunities or would like to learn more about the recruitment industry and what it has to offer, please reach out to myself Vida.Trkulja@stantonhouse.com or Meg.Appleby@stantonhouse.com