What Employers Need to Understand About Hiring Millennial and Gen Z Workers

The Great Resignation is still raging on, and employers need to work harder than ever to attract and retain great talent. Hiring millennial workers isn’t always a walk in the park.

Currently, 32% of Gen Z and 28% of Millennials are open to new career opportunities, but employers will have to meet their conditions first. From work flexibility to an increased focus on company ethics, the younger generations have higher expectations of employers when it comes to looking for their next job.

Randstad’s latest Workmonitor study provides key insights into how the global workforce is shifting their attitudes when it comes to where and how they work. Here’s what employers need to know if they want to attract top Gen Z and Millennial talent…

They Won’t Stick Around If a Job Gets in the Way

Emily Hoang, 23, is a recent college graduate. She believes that the younger generation entering the workforce has different priorities than those who came before them. “Gen Z is putting their happiness and wellbeing before their jobs. Which I’m a full supporter of. If you’re not happy with what you’re doing, your work output won’t be as great.”

In fact, the study found that 56% of employees aged 18-24 are less willing to sacrifice their personal time and are willing to quit their jobs if they feel that the job is preventing them from enjoying their lives.

Randstad CEO Sander van ‘t Noordende shared one of his key takeaways from the study; “Our data revealed that not only will many younger employees not accept a job that doesn’t meet their expectations, but they are also willing to walk away from one if it interferes with how they want to lead their lives.”

Sabrina Suter, 26, a property manager agrees; “The older generation seems to be more willing to keep a job in which they are unhappy, maybe also because they grew up thinking that they need to work hard and suffer to become successful. The younger generation tends to prioritize happiness and well-being.”

They Care About Company Values

Younger workers also care about the values and ethics of the organizations that they work for. Diversity is one of their top concerns. For example, 49% of Gen Z and 46% of millennials said they wouldn’t work for a company that doesn’t prioritize diversity. Highlighting your organization’s values throughout the recruiting process and in your company’s approach to work is paramount.

This generation is also wary of performative activism and green capitalism. Employers need to do more than simply state that they care about diversity or sustainability. They need to show that they are taking action. One of the most transparent ways to do this is to publish your organization’s action plans for addressing diversity, accessibility, and environmental concerns over the next several years and provide annual reports on the progress and outcomes. While small companies may not have the resources to publish full reports on their progress, they can still dedicate space on their websites, social media profiles, and in their job postings to sharing the company’s values and efforts.

Flexibility Is Non-Negotiable When Hiring Millenial Workers

Some employers are still grappling with decisions around returning to the office this year. However, after two years of remote work, many young workers feel that they’ve already proved their ability to work from home productively. Hoang added that “COVID has shown people that remote work is possible, and they want flexibility.”

Younger generations want a choice about where and how they work. 83% of those surveyed by Randstad reported that flexibility around work location is important to them.

Suter shared her own definition of workplace flexibility; “Flexibility to me means “having the choice.” It would be ideal to have the possibility to decide whether I would prefer to work in the office or remotely. Moreover, it is important that a job enables work-life balance and does not interfere with [my] personal life.” Both location flexibility and schedule flexibility are desired by younger workers, and companies that are willing to offer these options will have an edge over the competition when recruiting top talent.

In fact, employers are finding that increasing work location flexibility can also help them boost diversity within their organization. Hayden Brown, CEO of Upwork, previously shared that increased location flexibility can also help companies meet their diversity objective; “I can’t tell you the number of CEOs I talked to who are thinking, ‘I have to solve the diversity challenge in my business, and remote work is one of the key tools… We have to let go of this very office-centric culture and incorporate people who are in a lot of geographies.”

Pitch Your Value Proposition

The labor market is becoming increasingly competitive, and employers need to consider whether they’re offering enough to attract and retain great workers. Some key considerations for employers should be providing competitive compensation, reevaluating your benefits offerings, and providing adequate recognition.

22% of employees included in the Work Monitor survey reported that they have seen enhanced benefits offerings over the past 12 months. What this means for employers is that it is a suitable time to review your offerings to see if they are still competitive compared to what others in your industry or region may be offering. Small businesses that cannot afford to increase salaries or enhance benefits packages may need to turn to non-financial perks such as enhanced flexibility to stay competitive.

They’re Interested in Self-Improvement

Younger employees also have a great desire to learn and improve their skills. 88% said that they would engage in learning and development programs if given the opportunity. Offering development opportunities not only benefits workers but also helps employers develop a more skilled workforce while improving retention and job satisfaction.

Formal learning and development programs are ideal, but there are also low-cost options that small businesses can use to aid employees in their self-improvement. LinkedIn Learning courses, internal cross-training or job shadowing, and resources like HR Campfire’s fireside chats every Friday can help employees learn new things without a significant time commitment or high cost.

They’re Still Great Workers

Do not get the wrong idea about Gen Z or Millennial workers. While they ask for more from employers, it is not out of laziness or an aversion to work. In fact, Randstad found that younger respondents placed more importance on work than older respondents.

However, to attract talent and keep them engaged, you need to work harder to provide better value to employees through work-life balance, development opportunities, and social causes that are important to them. If you do this right, it is still very possible to build a very loyal workforce with younger staff and keep them for years to come.

What challenges or successes are you experiencing with hiring younger workers? Share them in our People forum…


Kaylyn McKenna

Kaylyn McKenna

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