Putting the value in EVP — what Gen Z job seekers expect to see

Three Gen Z workers sat smiling around a table with their laptops

What do you value the most?

Chances are if you’re one of the 47.4 million people who left their job voluntarily during The Great Resignation, work-life balance sits pretty high on the list.

But even if you did stick around, it’s likely coronavirus shifted your priorities a bit.

How could it not, right?

Because a lot’s changed in a short space of time. Let alone since 1952, when pay and set working hours were established as the core ‘benefits’ employees could expect. But seventy years later — and especially after a pandemic forced us to become more flexible — the latter just doesn’t sound like much of a perk anymore. With age-old working models transformed, perhaps irreversibly, traditional employee benefits packages just feel a bit archaic.

And data seems to support this. According to research by Gartner, only 31% of HR leaders think their employees are satisfied with the EVP. Worse still, 65% of candidates report they have actually discontinued a hiring process due to an unattractive EVP.

So imagine how Gen Z feel.

Born between 1997 and 2012, much of this generation is now entering the workforce for the first time. For these ‘zoomers’, remote — or at least hybrid — working is the norm. Often onboarded from afar, they’ve never known any different.

But for many, the current set-up’s pretty unappealing.

LinkedIn reports that in the U.S. alone, Gen Z workers are already quitting and changing jobs 40% more than last year.

And who could blame them?

With a lack of social connections, career progression opportunities and traditional styles of training all out the window, they deserve more than the promise of ping pong and some in-office socialising on a Friday evening; they need an EVP that delivers on its promise and actually means something.

So calling all employers- big and small — here’s how to put the value back in EVP.

Flexibility should now be a given in today’s market

That’s if you consider more than two-thirds of staff want flexible working to stay (‘ The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work — Are We Ready? ‘).

And further research suggests it’s most important to Gen Z workers.

LinkedIn revealed that 72% of Gen Z employees had left or considered leaving their job due to an inflexible work policy; this was higher than 69% of millennials, 53% of Gen X and 59% of baby boomers.

But many employers are still missing a trick.

Last year, Timewise reported that only 1 in 4 jobs were advertised with flexible working. But even if this number has increased in 2022, it makes sense that including flexible working as a perk would make you stand out from at least some of the competition. Because when vacancies are at a record high and there are so many options to choose from, this one’s no longer a “nice to have”; instead, it’s fundamental.

Imagine the prospect when thinking about pay and ‘perks’

When putting together an EVP, surveys are a great way to learn what’s working for employees and what isn’t.

But there’s a problem with this approach. These surveys almost exclusively focus on current employees and include no data on what your ideal prospect is looking for. Take pay, for example. You’d imagine most respondees are at least satisfied with their salary — that’s why they’re still with the company. However, this approach is excluding the rest.

“The talented people who took higher wages elsewhere are not part of the analysis because they are no longer employees. It’s a bit like the old joke of looking for your lost keys not where you dropped them but under the streetlamp because the light is better there,” says Rodd Wagner in ‘ An ‘Employee Value Proposition’ Mindset Just Might Fix Employee Engagement ‘ for Forbes.

So, what’s the alternative?

Well along with benchmarking the market and taking into account variables like the cost of living, try painting a picture of what that perfect prospect looks like. Marketers looking to entice customers have content or buyer personas — so why can employers do the same?

But there’s no guesswork here; it needs to be powered by real insight. Creating a killer EVP that resonates means going outside the organisation and asking Gen Z job seekers what they’re looking for. Why not put out a poll on LinkedIn and see what comes back — you might be surprised what you find.

Just don’t be alarmed if the data varies. In fact, we’d be surprised if it didn’t.

Be inclusive and understand everyone’s different

Diversity’s still a problem in the workplace.

But whether your prospect feels represented or not, it’s something that most Gen Zers feel strongly about. In fact, nearly 20% of the 1,400 Gen Z participants in a Tallo survey didn’t apply for a job because the company had a weak track record around diversity.

Unfortunately, many still do. According to research by The House of Commons Parliamentary Digital Service, Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff make up 35% of all applicants but only 23% of appointments.

Maybe Gen Z can relate to being underrepresented. According to the same research, only 14% of appointed candidates are aged 16–24 compared to 27% of the total talent pool.

But employers can still be caught out in ‘box ticking’ exercises around age, race, gender and sexual orientation — that’s if their EVPs don’t go a little deeper. According to Wet Ones’ 2021 Employee Benefits, Health and Wellbeing Survey, only 16% of staff under 25 said their current benefits package was suitable for them.

But it’s tricky. Especially when everyone has different priorities and circumstances. And what might be a ‘perk’ to one member of staff might not work for the entire team.

So what can you do?

Well, we’re not suggesting you should rewrite the playbook for every member of staff. But at least listening and trying to understand their individual needs is what being an inclusive and diverse employer’s all about — right?

“An inclusive benefits package contributes to the whole team feeling supported in pursuing a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. Therefore, it is crucial that companies digest these findings and take action to improve how they nurture employee wellbeing,” says Gurinder Sagoo, HR Director for North Europe and Oceania at Wet Ones.

Essentially, the prescriptive ‘one-size-fits-all’ benefits package just won’t cut it anymore. The best EVPs promote inclusivity and individuality. And that means knowing not everyone copes in the same way.

Go beyond the gym and invest in mental health

OK, access to fitness facilities is undoubtedly a perk. And it’s a fact that exercise is well-known to have mood-boosting benefits.

But when one in four Gen Z respondents have reported feeling emotionally distressed — almost double the levels of millennials and Gen X, we need to take things further.

Proper mental health support at work was something the Gen Zers we interviewed unanimously agreed on. They suggested things like:

  • Free access to meditations apps, e.g. Headspace or Calm
  • Additional ‘mental health holidays’ if needed
  • Access to therapy and counselling services
  • Team building days to ensure disparate teams can connect

More than anything, they emphasised the need for genuine support from senior management — as opposed to offering minor ‘morale boosting’ benefits.

But there’s one major benefit that just can’t be overlooked. Especially for a generation so keen to learn.

Promise a long-turn investment in training and development

We’ve talked before about how training Gen Z is an investment for companies. Get it right and the ROI will blow the cost of any training course out of the water. Especially considering over half (61%) of Gen Zers say they can picture themselves staying loyal to one place of employment for ten years or longer.

So why not shine a spotlight on what you can do for them?

“This is a generation driven to achieve,” says Elizabeth Baskin in ‘ Is Your Employee Value Proposition Ready For Gen Z? ‘ for Forbes. She argues that an EVP targeting younger talent must identify the ways they can build their careers.

“That might mean working on the front lines of exciting projects. It could include collaborating with experts in your industry. It could be a culture that promotes learning, both in the form of training and in more organic on-the-job learning. Or, if the company is growing quickly, that might mean enabling employees to accelerate their career paths,” she says.

But we’ve only scratched the surface

We know what you’re thinking: this all sounds great but aren’t EVPs reserved for much larger organisations — ones with suitably big budgets?

Not these days. In fact, it’s the USP that is setting many SMEs apart.

“We have many clients, all of whom are SMEs, who worry that they will struggle to compete with the tech giants’ large salaries and perks, and whilst that may be true, by focussing on other elements of your Employee Value Proposition and formalising what makes your company special, you can put yourself in pole position to attract and retain top talent,” says Lucy Smith, our founder at DigitalGrads, in ‘ Don’t get left behind — is your EVP all sorted? ‘.

So whether it’s your stance on sustainability, the company’s willingness to adapt or even the fact you’ve got free parking, show Gen Zers what makes you valuable. Because if you put the time into your EVP, you’re guaranteed to get the best out of their working hours in return.

If you need any help hiring gen-z or even just fancy a search to see what’s out there, head on over to our grad recruitment app and check out today’s burgeoning talent.

Originally published at https://employers.digitalgrads.com on August 15, 2022.

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Andy Baker

Andy Baker

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Friendly neighbourhood copy chameleon. Whatever the tone, I’ve got you.