What do Gen Z look for in an employer?

Megan Rowe
September 22 2022
When scrolling through our LinkedIn feeds lately, articles on ‘quiet quitting’ are jumping out left, right and centre. ‘Quiet quitting’, the (let’s face it) rather badly coined term, refers to employees working within defined working hours and only engaging in work activities within these hours: it is not necessarily connected to quitting a job outright (as the phrase suggests) but rather doing exactly, and only, what the job requires. The term has recently been counteracted with the (equally badly phrased) phenomenon of ‘quiet firing’ - a move instigated by employers who want to avoid officially firing or laying off a worker, so instead make their working conditions so toxic that the employee is forced to resign. Such phrases, and the implications they hold, have turned LinkedIn into a bit of a warzone as of late. And, with ‘quiet quitting’ seemingly being adopted by primarily Gen Z workers, it has also created more of a generational divide than ever.
This post isn’t designed to add fuel to the fire. Rather, today we want to take a closer look at these generational differences in the workplace. In particular, we want to look at the newest generation entering the workplace who, as a Gen Zer myself, I can hold my hands up and admit are probably the pickiest generation. So, for all the stumped recruiters and employers out there: who is Gen Z, and what do we look for in an employer?
Gen Z Opt for Quality over Quantity
The first and foremost point to note about recruiting for Gen Z is that we appreciate quality over quantity. Are you a recruiter who tends to approach a new role by doing a general LinkedIn search and blasting 50 candidates with the same, nondescript message? Well, I’m sorry to say – but that’s not going to cut it for Gen Z. We like a more individual approach.
Season 2 of our RedTalks podcast is due to launch next week, where our very own Matt and Megan chat to people from all walks of life about generational differences in the workplace. When recently discussing recruiting for the next generation with guest Christina Robinson, digital marketer and Managing Director of Green Umbrella Marketing, Christina pointed out that one thing Gen Z really look for is that personalised slant.
So rather than blasting candidates with a bulk LinkedIn message – why not record a short video, chatting about the position and outlining some company benefits? At Red, we use Hinterview – a video recording platform for recruiters which allows us to create and edit personalised one-way videos for clients, and candidates - increasing engagement by up to 300% in the process! Or maybe you just want to do more than simply scan a candidates’ previous work history, but instead take the time to read their LinkedIn bio’s too and really think about what they might be looking for out of their next position – then sell that to them, alongside the general job description.
Still stumped for what Gen Z might actually be looking for in a company though? Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered with a few helpful pointers below!
Gen Z Crave Flexibility
In 2019, a New York Times article proclaimed, ‘young people are going to save us from the office,’ noting millennials’ and Gen Z’s desire for a better ‘work-life balance,’ flexible working hours and the ability to shape their jobs around their home lives. As we all know, Covid and the WFH phenomenon that followed only hit us in early 2020 – proving that Gen Z were ahead of the curve in their desire for a more remote way of working.
Nowadays, when trying to appeal to and retain Gen Z talent, it is essential that you offer some form of flexible working – this could be a hybrid model, full remote working, or even just flexibility towards working hours in general and how you spend certain working hours. Certainly, some larger companies are now offering paid time off to volunteer, or for exercise or therapy breaks, a schedule that allows for caregiving or are promoting benefits such as a casual dress code. All these additional perks are how employers are recruiting for the next generation and, in the candidate driven market that we’ve experienced as of late, have been imperative in securing that younger talent.
However, a point that Gen Z are striving to get across is that flexibility isn’t just about where we work but finding that ‘productive zone’. Bearing in mind that most Gen Z candidates are entering the workplace straight from university, where the ‘norm’ for productivity would most likely have been hitting the library or a coffee shop with their pals and a large latte, going from that to rigid requirements around working hours and location can zap overall productivity and creativity. So why force a change in habit, that previously worked towards increasing productivity? Working with employees to foster autonomy in their working style can keep them engaged and allow them to take charge of their own job performance, which influences the company’s growth and profitability.
Gen Z Value Company Culture
For Gen Z, company culture is everything and carries far more importance in the hunt for a new role than it did for previous generations. Hari Kolam, CEO of ‘people intelligence’ platform Findem, describes it as “Their goal is to work for a company with a remarkable culture, and if that’s not being demonstrated to them early on, they may go off to a competitor.”
How do you foster that sense of company culture when Gen Z also desire remote working and flexible hours, I hear you ask? It all comes down to effort – companies need a strong communication programme, from formal modes of communicating via email and zoom calls, to more informal Microsoft Teams chats (at Red when we’re working from home, we’re constantly spamming the Teams chat with hilarious gifs!), WhatsApp groups and virtual team building events. This is essential to provide that sense of community that Gen Z crave, and foster an environment where people feel like a valued member of a team.
Gen Z are Environmentally Friendly
Despite being the most tech savvy (and tech obsessed) generation and spending the majority of our days online, Gen Z are also very interested in protecting the environment and will often seek this out in a future employer. The climate strikes of 2019 and the size, scale and leadership of these strikes demonstrated Gen Z’s devotion to fighting the climate crisis, coupled with the rise of the term ‘eco-anxiety’, which is underpinned by Gen Z concerns about climate change and motivation to make changes at the policy level – such as using renewable energy and reducing waste. A 2019 Amnesty International survey of more than 10,000 Gen-Zers from across the world found that climate change is the number 1 issue that many feel most passionate about. Are your company selling its sustainability efforts? If not, maybe now is the time to start.
Why Gen Z?
Perhaps you’ve finished reading the above points and already feel slightly exhausted by this new generation and our work life demands. Perhaps you’re thinking why bother, why not just recruit the less needy generation of millennials or the more loyal Gen X? Because Gen Z bring a fresh perspective to the table. Gen Z offer a true work passion (46% of Gen Z believes that working in an industry they are passionate about is a major motivator), they crave constant work challenges, and they’re a creative, entrepreneurial generation: as digital natives, they are increasingly business savvy and constantly coming up with new innovations or ways of doing things.
So next time you’re about to hit send on that bulk recruiter message, sit back and take a minute to really think about what Gen Z might be looking for in their next employer, and the number of benefits that the next generation and their creative ways of thinking will bring to your organisation.







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