Vacancies are at a record high — so why should Gen Z choose you?
Gen Z, the world’s youngest job seekers, are spoilt for choice.
That’s because, for the first time since records began, there are “fewer unemployed people than job vacancies,” says the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
According to Statista, there were around 1.3 million jobs in Feb-May 2022; to put that figure into context, it’s around 535,000 more vacancies compared to the same period in 2021.
And there’s more reason for zoomers first entering work to feel optimistic.
Reports suggest the graduate job market seems to have recovered since the pandemic began. In fact, the number of vacancies is now 20% higher than in 2019 ( Institute of Student Employers).
Great news, right?
You’d think so. But as we’ve mentioned before, Gen Z is still around three times more likely to be unemployed than older adults. Pretty worrying considering it’s this generation that’s forecast to make up 27% of the workforce in the next three years.
So, what’s going on?
Well, the ONS also reported that regular pay is falling at the fastest rate in more than a decade when accounting for rising prices. Between February and April, pay excluding bonuses was down 2.2% from a year earlier (when adjusted for inflation).
But this is just one of many things Gen Z will consider when weighing up their options.
So, how can you ensure you the best talent from this generation chooses you over another employer?
Offer the competitive salaries and benefits they deserve
OK, let’s get one thing straight.
Zoomers might have a wishlist of what they expect from their ideal employer — but being paid fairly tops it.
According to RippleMatch, 77% of US college seniors said compensation would be the number one factor when evaluating offers.
Fair enough, right?
The thing is many employers still exclude younger workers from getting a competitive salary — usually with the classic “dependent on experience” line.
And this is not just the case for job seekers; it goes for Gen Z who are already employed too. A survey by Bankrate found that 45% of Gen Zers felt underpaid compared to co-workers with the same experience and qualifications.
Unfortunately, this bias doesn’t stop with their salary.
The ‘2021 Employee Benefits, Health and Wellbeing Survey’ asked employees at 133 workplaces across the UK about the benefits packages they received at work. Alarmingly, the report showed that benefits packages were predominantly designed for employees aged between 45 and 54; just 16% of UK employees under 25 felt their current benefits package was suitable for them.
But Gen Z workers aren’t “entitled” and they don’t expect the world; they just deserve more than having the wool pulled over their eyes.
Glassdoor revealed that as many as 60% of people prefer to work for a company that discloses salary information.
But if you can’t come up with the goods, that’s OK. Honesty, authenticity and transparency mean a lot more than empty promises.
At the end of the day, workplace perks look a little different to everyone — so just be open to the conversation.
“There’s no one size that fits all,” says Marta Steele, a career and workplace partner at PeopleResults. And the things that are important to Gen Z might be very different to older workers.
“One employee might value a three-month sabbatical to backpack through Asia, while another may want generous paternity leave, “ she told Monster.
But there’s one thing that just can’t be overlooked: training.
Invest in Gen Z and you’ll reap the rewards
It might not be the first ‘perk’ you’d think of putting on your job description or employee value proposition, but training matters to Gen Z.
Research suggests that workplace learning opportunities are among the top priorities for 7 out of 10 Gen Z job seekers.
And we’re not talking about some paper induction that’s not been updated since the 90s.
Training using experiential learning and emerging tech can be great ways to teach Gen Z; after all, this is a generation that’s actually grown up around virtual environments like AR. We’ve talked more about these aspects of Gen Z training here.
But budget and resources shouldn’t put you off. In fact, it can be just as useful to use the everyday tools that Gen Z are native to help them learn.
GOBankingRates commissioned a study of 1,000 Americans ages 18 to 24 and found that 34% were learning about personal finance using TikTok and YouTube. The latter is particularly important when, according to Training Journal, 56% of Gen Zers find learning more engaging if it includes videos.
Just remember, when over half (61%) of this generation have said they’d stay loyal to one place of employment for ten years or longer, the cost of a video is a small price to pay.
So, what else do Gen Zers expect from employers?
A more diverse place to work
In 2020, Monster asked Gen Z workers what was important to them when choosing an employer. Overwhelmingly, 83% of them cited the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Although this is slowly moving in the right direction — there’s been a 32% increase in executives prioritising diversity and inclusion in the last eight years — there are still ‘invisible’ groups of people that find themselves missing out. For example, as many as 80% of neurodiverse individuals find themselves unemployed ( Harvard Business Review). We’ve talked more about neurodiversity in the workplace here.
However, being a more diverse employer isn’t just the right thing to do; it will provide huge benefits to your organisation too. In fact, a McKinsey study recently revealed companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to outperform their peers.
But this isn’t the only thing that this conscious group of candidates expect companies to take seriously.
Get serious about climate commitments
Last year, Bupa’s research revealed that 64% of the 18-to-22-year-olds surveyed thought employers should act on environmental issues. Not only that, 59% would stay with them longer if they did.
“Knowing that I am working for an environmentally and socially oriented organisation, that I am working for something bigger than a paycheque — this is what brings me a sense of purpose,” said Lillian Zhou, a 26-year-old communications worker at solar energy non-profit GRID Alternatives, when speaking to the BBC.
And Gen Z is happy to put their money where their mouths are — especially when it comes to their ethics and value system. Because almost two out of five respondents in this year’s Deloitte Gen Z and Millennial Survey would go as far as to turn down a job if it didn’t align with their values.
“Nowadays, I think my generation places more emphasis on finding jobs that align with our personal beliefs, and are less afraid to move on if that alignment changes,” Zhou continues.
So if you’re looking to attract Gen Z talent, it’s high time you take your climate commitments seriously — because it’s their future we’re gambling with.
But environmental balance isn’t the only thing on their minds.
Value work-life balance — because they certainly do
Find a job or miss out on the important things in life? For a generation that’s already lost so many opportunities over the past couple of years, that’s not even up for debate.
According to Computer Weekly, around half of those questioned would quit their job if it interfered with their work-life balance. In fact, almost two in four Gen Z individuals would actually prefer to be unemployed than end up stuck in a job they don’t like ( Randstad Workmonitor).
But how can employers improve the experience, though?
Well, one way’s ensuring flexible working comes as standard. Because despite continued debate over whether working from home is right for Gen Z, there’s no doubt that more flexibility = greater balance.
And it’s when our lives are balanced that there’s more room for ideas to flourish. Something that this generation — one with a brand new perspective — has an abundance of.
Put as much emphasis on creativity as you do experience
A survey by Adobe/Harris that quizzed 5,000 participants worldwide found that more than half of Gen Z (56%) consider themselves creative.
Doesn’t sound particularly newsworthy?
Well, the report also found that this was 12% more creative than anybody above the age of 24.
The thing is, as much as companies like to talk about their “creative culture”, many are too bogged down by archaic processes to actually innovate.
“…the kind of creativity companies say they want is often the kind that’s not welcome in the workplace because it has a tendency to question the status quo a bit too frequently, wonders why it can’t install a piece of software on their company-issued machine and generally ruffles feathers,” argues Chris Thilk in ‘ We’re still making workers jump through unnecessary hoops ‘.
First-time workers — those who bring fresh eyes and no baggage of how things ‘should’ be done — are in the perfect position to pioneer the solutions we need.
And for employers in the midst of an economic crisis that no one knows what to do about, that seems like something worth fighting for — don’t you think?
Originally published at https://employers.digitalgrads.com on July 14, 2022.