Gen Z In The Workforce: How To Recruit And Retain Youth Generations

After witnessing the Millennial struggle with college debt, some teens are skipping post-secondary education altogether. The impact for organizations and companies looking to hire young talent? Many will need to reconsider often antiquated recruiting and retaining practices for the growing numbers of Generation Z entering the workforce–starting now. Ryan Jenkins, a Gen Z expert and partner at, shares his insight into how brands can recruit in a way that appeals to younger generations while creating a workforce culture that keeps them around.

Jeff Fromm: When will Gen Z enter the workforce?

Ryan Jenkins: Companies are likely to welcome Gen Z into their workplaces a lot sooner than expected. Gen Z is seriously considering forgoing a traditional college education to go work for a company that provides college-like training. In fact, 75% of Gen Z say there are other ways of getting a good education than going to college.

Education alternatives (such as MissionU and UnCollege) and avoiding student debt are just a few reasons Gen Z is likely to skip college and go straight to work.

With the looming flood of young talent into the workplace, companies must be ready to recruit and retain this next generation.

Fromm: How can companies recruit Gen Z?

Jenkins: As many young adults strongly consider bypassing college to move straight into the workplace, companies are challenged with positioning themselves to acquire the next generation of top talent a lot sooner than expected.

Companies must deliver an exceptional candidate experience. Gen Z is much less likely to do business with a company where they have had a poor experience as a job applicant than previous generations. Companies must identify any friction points (non-mobile friendly career pages, slow communications, etc.) that exist throughout the entire candidate experience and work toward creating an effortless, timely, and relevant candidate experience.

Companies should also utilize innovative technology. A new generation requires new recruiting tactics. AI, machine learning, and analytics have changed the recruiting landscape.

Pymetrics uses neuroscience games and bias-free artificial intelligence (AI) to predictively match people with jobs where they’ll perform at the highest levels. Google Hire is a recruiting app that helps distribute jobs, identify and attract candidates, build relationships, and manage the interview process. Mya and Wade & Wendy offer chatbots that automate the process from resume to interview. Innovative recruiting tools such as these will give companies a competitive advantage when recruiting Gen Z.

Lastly, companies should be actively managing their employer brand on Seventy percent of candidates look to [company] reviews before they make career decisions and 69% are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the cutler and work environment). With over 10 million of the 32 million unique monthly users on Glassdoor being Millennials and Gen Z, it’s a must that companies leverage Glassdoor. SAP for example, has an employee whose full-time job is to monitor Glassdoor, where they look at reviews, respond to reviews, and act on the trends and/or feedback.

Fromm: How can companies retain Gen Z?

Jenkins: Promote diversity and inclusion. Seventy-seven percent of Gen Z say that a company’s level of diversity affects their decision to work there. Not only will an inclusive organizational culture attract Gen Z– the most diverse workforce to date–but organizations with inclusive cultures are two times as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.

Also to retain Gen Z, create a more fluid organization. Seventy-five percent of Gen Z would be interested in a situation in which they could have multiple roles within one place of employment. Growing up with ubiquitous connectivity, evolving mobile technology, and in a growing gig economy has altered how Gen Z views employment. Gen Z will question what it is to be an employee. To be positioned as an ideal employer in the eyes of Gen Z, companies should consider becoming more fluid by using rotational programs, shadowing, and offering more learning and development opportunities.

Fromm: How can companies use learning and development to engage Gen Z employees?

Jenkins: Offering robust professional development opportunities is critical. Gen Z grew up with YouTube, the world’s largest on-demand how-to video library, at their fingertips, which means organizations must offer innovative solutions to appease their appetite for on-demand learning.

Such microlearning opportunities can satisfy Gen Z expectations and preferences, in that it provides training in small learning units and short-term learning activities delivered in a convenient and accessible manner. Content is distributed (ideally on-demand and mobile-first) in mini-bursts, typically 2-15 minutes in length.


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