In recent times the realities of massive generational change have dawned on business leaders. As of 2019, there are now more Australians born since 1980 than before it. This means that Gen Y (born from 1980 to 1994), Gen Z (born from 1995 to 2009) and Gen Alpha (born since 2010) comprise more than half the population. Additionally, since 2019, Generations Y and Z comprise the majority of the workforce, outnumbering Generation X and the Baby Boomers for the first time.

Dealing with this demographic change and specifically how to recruit, retain and manage Gen Z has become one of the biggest issues facing employers today. As Generation Z become an increasingly prominent group of workers, consumers and new household formers, it is essential that organisations understand how to retain Gen Z in the workforce.

Here are four tips to help you not only attract Gen Z employees but retain them as well.

1. Communicate purpose

In our recent Education Future Report, we found that the second biggest fear among Generation Z is being stuck in a job they don’t find fulfilment in (61%).

When Gen Z are working in a job, they are doing so for more than just remuneration, employment conditions, superannuation, worker entitlements, role description, tenure and job security. What is also important to them are the social aspects such as opportunities for collaboration, social events, co-working spaces and team building. Additionally, they are also giving consideration to the ‘higher-order drivers’ like an organisation’s values, corporate giving programs, career pathways, further study, training and personal development.

It’s no longer enough to provide a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. This generation want to know their contribution is having an impact and making a difference.

2. Build the culture

Workplace culture is an important part of creating a thriving workplace where people feel valued and that they belong. Three in five (62%) Gen Z workers see “relationship with peers” as one of the top three reasons for getting or keeping their job.

The ability to interact socially and work collaboratively was also highly regarded, with a further three in five (59%) citing a collaborative work environment as an extremely or very important part of their current or potential workplace.

The prevalence of loneliness even amongst sociable Generation Z is an issue today and can be seen in the fact that it is Gen Z, more than any other generation, who look for the workplace to meet their social needs. Gen Z are looking for a place to belong. The one social bottleneck through which most pass is the workplace and so ensuring social and connection needs are met here is essential for retention.

3. Encourage variety

A job description involving variety and the opportunity for advancement is critical for Gen Z. More than three in five Gen Z workers (63%) see “opportunity for advancement” in a job as an extremely or very important priority, and one of their top three must-haves. A job that doesn’t lock Gen Z into a narrow task but offers variety, change, and the chance of a
promotion is sought after. Offering variety and flexibility in the role provides this.

For Gen Z change is like the air they breathe. They keep up with changing technologies, move homes more frequently than previous generations and are emerging from an education system that has offered greater subject choice than ever before. At this stage of their life variety is all they’ve known.

The reality is that there will always be lower retention rates of young staff than the older generations. But retention can be improved. Here’s what will help: accessibility – take the mystery out of how decisions are made, and variety – give junior staff greater responsibility/roles in their work. Let them conduct exit interviews, give presentations, and organise staff events.

4. Look for opportunities for training and development

Gen Z have heard the mantra of lifelong education all through school and they’ve come to accept it. After all, many of them are working in industries and with technologies that didn’t even exist when they were beginning high school like blockchain, robotics VR and nanotechnology. Therefore, the key to remaining relevant in changing times is ongoing training. This will keep employees effective in their current job, but also employable for their future careers which after all may be just a few years away.

More than half of Gen Z workers (52%) see career development through additional Professional Development training as extremely or very important. Training is more than a tool for productivity. It is a tool for retention. Gen Z’s are motivated to stay longer when their employer invests in them. Their preferred methods of training are on the job coaching/ mentoring as well as in-house or outsourced training courses. This is due in part to their learning styles (kinaesthetic and visual rather than literate and procedural) as well as their motivation for learning being social, collaborative, interactive, and fun!

Download the report on Generation Z