Six tips for engaging Gen Z employees


4th November 2022

Read Time

5 Minutes

Front view of diverse business people discussing with each other in meeting at conference room in a modern office

Our Chief Progression Officer – Simon Reichwald – recently took part in a panel discussion at Culture Clash organised by in association with the University of Bristol.

Simon chaired a panel of leading HR and recruitment experts discussing, what employers can learn about Gen Z and emerging talent in 2023.

Here are six key points from the discussion that the panellists agreed were high priorities for businesses in what remains a challenging and highly competitive candidates’ market.

1. The importance of progressive cultures

Many organisations need to fundamentally reassess their hiring and onboarding processes to meet the needs of Generation Z (Gen Z) – people born between 1997 and 2012. They currently make up 30 percent of the world’s population and are expected to account for 27 percent of the workforce by 2025.

The panel agreed that businesses must adapt and change to appeal to young people and not expect them to adopt entrenched, traditional cultures. Gen Z prioritizes diversity more than any other generation, and they want to see a commitment from employers to making the world a better place.

Organisations need to take more steps to improve how they gather information to understand what younger people want and need as they join the workforce.

The challenge of attracting, recruiting, and retaining younger employees remains as important as it has ever been, but companies must also think carefully about career development and progression. This is another high priority for members of Gen Z who want to see a commitment from employers to their future from the outset.

Gen Z is the most forward-thinking and inclusive generation yet and as they progress in their careers, their social values will be key to DE&I and building progressive company cultures built on people-first foundations.

2. Upskilling people and life-long learning

Not everyone joining the workforce from school or university is equipped with essential skills such as negotiation and collaboration, which are key to success and progression. Employers need to recognise this and invest in life-long learning strategies. The panel agreed that mentoring technology is a particularly effective tool, bringing together experts with early talent to share their knowledge and experience.

Mentoring can range from regular, structured meetings between mentors and mentees to providing more immediate support in the moment of need. The panel agreed that this rapid-response form of mentoring is key to helping mentees overcome challenges as they arise.  Our mentoring software can be accessed at any time, providing a user experience comparable to the way Gen Z employees access social media apps every day.

3. The increase in ‘boomeranging’ employees

There is a growing trend of employees leaving employers for better opportunities only to return 3-10 years later, often in more senior positions. For many businesses, returning employees can bring back skills and experience that are highly beneficial.

By establishing mentoring programmes that connect returning employees with recruits, businesses are increasing their employer brand. At a time when people have access to so much information about companies and how people are treated online via sites like Glassdoor, this has never been so important.

4. Early talent programmes and dwell time

 More businesses are assessing ‘dwell time’ – how long young employees remain in a position before moving up to the next level and what opportunities are there for them to progress. In the current jobs market, there are opportunities for people to progress rapidly with alternative employers, and those with sought-after skills are in high demand.

Using mentoring software like Connectr for Candidates makes it easy for people to choose mentors with whom they identify and build relationships that help mentees understand routes to progression at the point of application. This is a key aspect of successful early talent programmes built around strong Corporate Social Responsibility values where people are put first and their careers are a high priority.

5. Rethinking academic performance

The panel also discussed the rise of businesses questioning the need for high exam grades in some entry-level positions, creating barriers for young candidates who, with the right support and guidance- can excel in roles.

Recruitment requires careful screening but, in some cases, this can go too far and lead to employers rejecting candidates who have excellent potential if provided with training, learning, and mentoring.

6. Making the most of ‘digital natives’

 Gen Z members have grown up with technology and many use it with fluency and confidence that can help fill digital skills gaps that arise with an ageing workforce. They are quick to pick up new and emerging technologies and this can be hugely beneficial to businesses and key to maintaining a sharp competitive edge.

Training and mentoring can help senior employees understand how to use technology in their roles, helping to boost productivity and enhance analytical and decision-making skills.

Increasing numbers of businesses are turning to reverse mentoring to enable senior business leaders to learn what Gen Z wants and needs. In turn, they also benefit from traditional reciprocal mentoring – it works for everyone involved! It’s also key to evidence that business leaders are authentic in their efforts to build progressive cultures where people’s belonging and progression are core.

Interested to hear how Connectr can help you to become a more attractive place to work for the incoming Gen Z talent?  Please get in touch!