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Why Gen Z Could be the Answer to Staff Shortages in the Digital Age

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By Matt Newton from The Access Group 

No matter what industry you are in, it is no secret that recruiting real talent and properly onboarding, training and engaging your people delivers excellent results. Gen Z could be the answer to this; born between 1995 – 2002 they are a generation that is even more tech-savvy than their millennial predecessors and renowned for their dedication to hard work, loyalty and desire for independency and job stability. From care homes to retail stores and everything in between, all sectors are facing the same challenge; innovate or risk being left behind.

Many sectors are currently facing serious staff shortages, particularly care, education, construction and finance, where businesses are struggling to fill roles at a variety of different levels and specialisms.  Job demand in these sectors varies from city to city but one thing remains the same – there is a real need for talent across a variety of sectors in the UK. As Generation Z enters the workforce, it’s clear that this demographic has very specific career expectations; we hear that they crave job security and thrive in environments where they can innovate and express their individuality. But how can you attract, train and retain fresh talent? Surveys suggest Gen Z want fun, social interaction, and digital connectivity alongside an employer that cares about the environment and supports employee mental health and wellbeing, so adapting to these needs is advantageous if you want to attract fresh talent to thrive. The Access Group goes over some vital actions and considerations that all businesses should be considering when it comes to putting together a workforce of the digital age.

The best employers will thrive

According to Thomas International, the average cost of recruiting a new employee is circa £30,000, so as well as focusing on finding the right employee, it is equally as important for employers to work on becoming the right employer. By identifying and focusing on the needs of staff from recruitment to on-boarding and onwards, organisations can position the brand as welcoming, well-managed and a great place to work. Your goal should be working towards repositioning your brand and sector as a valued career to ensure it is an appealing option for Gen Zs. Whether this be promoting career diversity within construction or tackling the stigma of poor pay rates within care, this is a great first step to overcoming staff shortages.

So, you’ve attracted and employed the perfect worker, but how can you retain Gen Z staff?

Offer job security

Studies show that Gen Z crave job security and career stability, so to appeal to Gen Zs you must offer structured career progression as well as clear KPIs and performance management. This will allow workers to develop and progress; not just at head office, but within hands-on roles, too. Ditch zero hour contracts – not only do zero hour contracts encourage a low sense of commitment and collaboration amongst workers, they also offer a huge income risk and uncertainty of what a worker will earn month to month (and there is nothing attractive about that). By 2021, Gen Z will make up at least one-fifth of the labour workforce, so it is important to start adapting to their wants and needs now.

Get tech savvy

Gen Z is the first generation to have truly grown up with technology, so being able to use it to enhance their job prospects and develop their careers would be second nature to them. Employers can use this to their advantage; by giving employees the technology they want (and need) as adopting and implementing cloud based solutions and other forms of technology will enhance productivity, encourage employee well-being and increase productivity. Older generations are reluctant to change and don’t want to switch to electronic systems, but administrative work hinders employee’s ability to focus their attention on residents. Certain software solution systems have the ability to strip out old paper-based processes.

Whether it’s requesting annual leave, swapping shifts with colleagues or recording absences, online systems will allow for enhanced efficiency. Gen Z desire the flexibility to structure work around their lives and have the ability to take time off for a family emergency without having to go through a tedious process. Considering the benefits of adopting software solutions will not only make you a more appealing option to this emerging workforce but will increase efficiency and enhance productivity across the business, in turn increasing revenue.

Let them work flexibly

Younger generations are independent in their outlook and don’t react well to being tightly managed. Why? Because Gen Zs have grown up in a world where everything is customisable; through the click of a button, they can identify their personal preferences and mould their experiences to suit these. Flexibility has replaced healthcare as the most valued employee benefit, and World Services Group found 28% of Gen Zs rank work-life balance as their top career priority. Both Millennials and Gen Zs want the flexibility to structure work around their lives and have the ability to take time off for a family emergency without having to go through a tedious process.

Understand recognition is the key to retention

It is clear that employers are struggling to find, recruit and retain suitable people to various sectors and within specific roles. Recognition is the key to retaining staff – by recognising and rewarding hard work, your workers will feel valued. Feeling valued, recognised and respected is within some of the top reasons for employers staying at their current place of work, so is definitely an aspect to take advantage of. Unlike millennials, who enjoy working collaboratively as a team and sharing successes, Gen Zs prefer to be judged on their own achievements and have their individual talents recognised and showcased.

Provide them with tools to learn and create

This emerging workforce wants to be self-sufficient, but they need the tools to do so. By ensuring they have the correct tools at their fingertips they will be able to learn by themselves and identify areas where they can develop and improve. Benefit from their creative flair and tech know-how; ensure they have the opportunity to speak out and suggest ways things could be done better. Setting targets and using technology that shows how they are performing in real-time will help drive job satisfaction and wellbeing levels and also allow workers to make their own case for promotion and pay progression.

As well as feeling recognised and valued, career growth, learning and development is an important factor amongst talented employees – so promoting this within a care career amongst Gen Zs is advantageous. Gen Zs are less money-driven than Millennials and are looking for more than just a salary, making them the ideal candidates for a role within care. They are seeking meaningful jobs which will offer opportunities for advancement alongside the opportunity to learn new skills.

Empowerment is key and inviting social media savvy young colleagues to join your team who have the ability to innovate may be the best thing you ever do.