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A global pandemic and a possible recession in the United States are reshaping the workforce, but the impact of Gen Z could be greater than the two.
Senior HR managers are taking notice and adapting their recruitment and employee management practices not only to the needs but also the wants of this younger class of workers. It’s a clear generational divide, said Don Robertson, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Northwestern Mutual.
“This generation is not like previous generations, they know that, they want to make an impact,” he said. “They want to connect with leaders, they want to interact with them, they want it to be very personal and very intimate.”
The professional intimacy and connectedness that Gen Z seeks in the workplace is something that Robertson says has caused a breakdown in the traditional relationship between employees and leadership.
Having lived through the Covid-19 pandemic which has modernized the way they learn and work, Gen Z are taking charge of the workforce and reimagining what it means for companies to take care of their employees.
These young workers are characterized by their willingness to leave jobs that do not offer enough personal support and professional development. According to experts, the key to retaining them for years to come is to make their work more than a good salary.
Their requests are quite simple.
Apple Musni, Vice President and People Partner at Chipotlehas broken down the main needs of this young generation into three areas.
“It’s mental well-being, a fair and socially responsible workplace, and then compensation,” she said.
Musni said that while these three aspects of a job were something previous generations also considered important, Gen Z has turned these workplace characteristics into “a must-have and a business requirement rather than an asset.” .
Prioritize mental health issues
As the pandemic has forced Gen Z to embrace remote learning and working environments, the need for employers who can respond to growing mental health issues is a crucial deciding factor for Gen Z candidates.
What these conversations most often lack, Robertson said, is providing workers with the space to regain autonomy not only over their work, but also over their lives.
According to Robertson, companies can help workers regain that control by being flexible about things like mandatory attendance days and allowing parents to adjust their schedules to meet caregiving responsibilities.
Pay transparency and growth opportunities
States like New York and California require companies to list salary ranges to bring more transparency to salaries.
“I think whether it’s on the job description, as some states have mandated, or through the hiring process, pay transparency is key,” Musni said.
However, this is only part of the plan to attract talent, she added. The key to retention is to provide a clear path for growth within the organization.
“Compensation is one of those perks that allows you to attract, but I think what really retains talent is the opportunities for growth, the culture that we have in our organization, and then continuing to evolve our value proposition for employees, and meeting teams where they matter most,” added Mousni.
Robertson agrees and said that in addition to these growth opportunities, the most important thing for Gen Z workers is providing them with opportunities to connect.
“It’s about building relationships, helping them grow and building inclusivity,” he said. “They want to be included, they want to have an impact, and they want to be part of something that has an impact.”
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