Millennials are already the largest generation in Canada and will reach that milestone in the United States by 2028. Gen Z makes up roughly 20% of the population. On top of this massive demographic shift, today’s employers are dealing with another pressing problem: they can’t find talent – even with staggering unemployment rates.
Clearly, there’s a disconnect between what employees want and what employers have to offer that can’t be blamed on the pandemic alone. As the oldest Millennials move up into management roles and more Gen Z’ers enter the workforce, these new generations want more from their work, and employers need to adapt to the needs of these younger generations or face the consequences.
How to Attract Millennial and Gen Z Employees
So how can employers connect with the workforce of the future and keep them engaged and productive for the long haul? It starts with ensuring that what you have to offer aligns with their expectations. The employee experience playbook that worked for your Boomer and Gen X employees won’t work for these younger generations, but the faster you can adapt to their wants and needs, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits.
Millennials and Gen Z are digital natives. They’ve grown up in an age where almost all the media and marketing they consume has been tailored to them. They don’t need to spend a ton of time digging for new content. They know that the algorithmic gods at Spotify, YouTube, TikTok, or Netflix will serve up more of what they like automatically.
These younger generations have grown up in an era of hyper-personalization, but many organizations’ approach to talent attraction is very one-size-fits-all – generic career pages with generic messaging that doesn’t speak to any particular type of candidate.
If you want to attract this talent segment, you’re going to need to get a little more personal. You should have talent personas that align with the different types of employees in your organization, customized based on other criteria such as your employee’s stage of life or the kind of role they’re looking to fill. A working parent applying for a marketing leadership role and an entry-level engineering candidate have very different needs and interests, so your employer branding should reflect that.
Authenticity and Accountability
It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen Z-ers are much more purpose-driven than previous generations, and the pandemic has only amplified this desire to do work that matters. However, your younger talent doesn’t just want to see that their employer has a purpose. They want their employers to live out this purpose authentically and take accountability when they miss the mark.
Take the recent backlash to rainbow Pride logos and the recent mass employee exodus at Basecamp after the founder published a blog post that prohibited, among other things, “societal and political discussions” on internal forums. Older generations might have let these issues slide, but Millennials and Gen Z’s want a lot more from their employers – and they’re willing to walk away if they don’t get it.
To attract this generation, you need to make sure that you talk the talk and walk the walk. For example, suppose you’re going to make a public statement, like publishing a social post in solidarity with a social justice movement or use pictures of diverse employees on your career pages. In that case, you also need to show proof that you’re taking the appropriate actions to support your marginalized employees inside your organization. Otherwise, potential candidates may think you’re just trying to boost your brand by appearing more socially inclined than you genuinely are.
Millennials have been wanting more flexible work for years. Now that many have finally got a taste of it during the pandemic, it’s understandable why they’d like to continue working this way. This generation doesn’t want to be chained to a desk for 40 hours a week. They want the freedom to work when and how they want.
Many older generations want this autonomy too, but Millennials and Gen Z are much more willing to put their money where their mouth is. A May survey of 1,000 U.S. adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. Among millennials and Gen Z, that figure was 49%.
This level of autonomy doesn’t just apply to remote work but also the idea of exclusivity. Most employers don’t want their people working on other projects, but this is exactly what Millennials and Gen Z’s want to do. Many are forgoing full-time employment in favor of freelancing and part-time employment to build a career that encompasses their many talents and interests.
If you want to keep and attract the best and most loyal talent, you will need to accommodate their need for flexibility. Take Shopify, for instance. A couple of times per quarter, the Ottawa-based software company hosts ‘hack days’ where employees can work on projects that are unrelated to their day-to-day. Shopify is also now ‘digital by default,’ which means employees can work from almost anywhere.
As millennials and Gen Z make up more of the workforce, employers need to stop asking how to manage this segment and start designing their organizations around them and restructuring their employee experience to meet their needs. Factors like personalization, authenticity, accountability, and autonomy aren’t just nice-to-haves – they’re need-to-haves, and without them, your millennial and Gen Z talent will leave you for other companies that have what they’re looking for.
Fortunately, this where we come in. At Blu Ivy Group, we gather deep insights into what your workforce really wants, identify threats and problems, and provide solutions on how you can better engage different demographic groups. We also offer training to help your leadership get aligned on what this new way of work might look like for your organization and set expectations and establish structures so you can deliver.
To learn more about how we can help you create a more effective employee experience for your organization, or for additional research insights or inquiries on how to build an award-winning employer brand, please contact Stacy Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blu Ivy Group is a global leader in employer branding, organizational culture, and recruitment marketing. We help organizations across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors build extraordinary employee experiences, magnetic employer brands and high-performance cultures.
From C-Suite to Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition leadership, we partner with our clients to transform their organizations and design the most compelling workplaces of the future.