3 Ways I Attracted Top Gen Z Applicants

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Just when you think you’ve figured out the generational differences on your team, a new generation walks out of the classroom and into the workplace. For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workplace. They are traditionalists (born between 1925 and 1945), baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980), millennials (born between 1981 and 2000), and Generation Z (born between 2001 and 2020). differences is not an easy task. I found out the hard way.

When I started my own business, I lived by the old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I thought the same recruiting and retention practices that had worked for my own generation would easily translate to Gen Z. But I was wrong. Very bad.

In fact, I had to relearn everything before I could build a business that would attract high-end applicants from Generation Z. But it was worth the effort. So how did I do it?

Here are some things that helped me on my own journey:

1. Rethink your office space

The “always connected” mentality really began to take hold when the Internet revolutionized the way we communicate and interact. The first generation of employees expected to be “on” 24/7 were the millennials. The workplace was no longer separate from his life; in many ways, become his life.

Generation Z recognized it. They saw the mental health struggles and exhaustion that comes with being “always on” from the older generation. For this reason, when they left the classroom and entered the meeting room, they valued, above all else, the reconciliation of work and family life. They want flexibility. They want privacy. They want limits.

So when I started my company, I made sure to remove the cereal bar from the budget and give employees the ability to work from anywhere, anytime. How I do this?

Well, I meet with my team once a week via Zoom and we cover our weekly, quarterly, and yearly goals. Then I can break them down into manageable projects that can be done from anywhere. Once they are done with their homework for the week, they can either take the rest of the week off or use that time to work on next week’s project.

Now, I realize that this format does not work for all types of businesses. But, if you have the ability to be fully remote, giving your team the freedom to work from anywhere will go a long way in attracting high-end applicants from Gen Z.

Related: Gen Z brings a whole new dynamic to the workforce

2. Let them lead the conversation

One of the worst mistakes I made early on was trying to lead with answers instead of questions. Well, let’s just say that didn’t go very well. In fact, it completely failed. And for good reason.

You see, I was terrified of making a fool of myself in front of my team. So, I didn’t give them a chance to catch me off guard. I rode with confidence, masked my fear, and hoped I could get through the day without falling flat on my face. However, my facade came at a high price. I almost lost the respect of my employees in the process.

My team was frustrated because they felt like I was trying to control the conversation instead of letting them have a say. They were done with the top-down management style and desperately wanted a leader who would listen to their needs.

I knew I needed to change, and fast. That’s why I started hosting weekly one-on-one conversations via Zoom.

During these conversations, I asked my team about their work style preferences, what motivates them, and how I could best support them. I even asked them how they like to socialize and what their favorite type of team building activity is. And you know what? These conversations completely changed the way I ran my business, for the better.

My Gen Z employees are now some of the most valuable members of my team because they feel heard and appreciated. Because once they knew I was willing to listen, they were willing to open up and share their ideas, which has led to some pretty amazing results for my business.

Related: 5 Ways Companies Can Reach ‘Gen Z’

3. Focus on your development, not your placement

The great Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Now, I’m sure Twain wasn’t thinking of Generation Z when he made this statement, but it couldn’t be more relevant to today’s young workers. And I’ll tell you why.

I learned the hard way that if you want to retain Gen Z workers, you need to focus on their development, not their placement. For example, when I hired my first intern, I enthusiastically looked at my needs and then placed her in the department where I thought she would excel the most.

But, after a few weeks, it became clear that she was miserable. She wanted to do something completely different, and she’s not the only one.

According to Deloitte, “Most Gen Z professionals prefer a multidisciplinary and global approach to their work, with the expectation that this can create opportunities for mobility and a rich set of experiences.”

For Gen Z, A plus B equals growth. That’s why it’s so important to offer them the opportunity to cross-train.

My intern did not want to be pigeonholed because of her past experience or education. She wanted a chance to grow. And, once I gave him that opportunity, I also grew as a leader. I stopped focusing on placing my employees in specific roles and started concentrating on giving them the freedom to grow within the company.

Working with Generation Z can be challenging, but I can guarantee that it will pay off in the end. In my experience, I have found that you need to offer them these three things:

  • The possibility of working from anywhere.
  • The opportunity to lead the conversation.
  • An opportunity to grow.

If you start with that, you’re well on your way to attracting and retaining the best Gen Z talent, and becoming a better leader in the process.

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