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Generation Z: How to attract, retain and engage the fastest-growing workforce generation



As organizations confront growing labor shortages, the retirement of baby boomers and the demand for new skills, attracting and retaining Generation Z (Gen Z) – the fastest-growing generation in the workforce – will be critical for success.

Gen Z comprises 11.6% of the current U.S. workforce and 37% of the global workforce, surpassing millennials and Gen X. As their numbers continue to grow, organizations must learn, adapt and reinvent their workforce strategies to attract this newest generation of employees.

Who is Gen Z?

Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is the first digital generation and the first global generation, and is on track to be the most diverse and educated generation in the workforce. Entrepreneurial and adaptable, creative and pragmatic, collaborative and self-reliant, these digital natives are driven by values that include relevance, transparency and authenticity.

Gen Z’s experiences growing up during the pandemic and witnessing rising social injustice and global economic hardship have led them to develop a strong sense of ethics and a deep need to work on important social issues.

And they are ready to jump: A recent LinkedIn survey found that close to 72% of Gen Z workers are considering a career change in the next 12 months.

Attracting Gen Z requires more than money

Organizations that want to increase their pool of Gen Z employees will need to think beyond the typical motivators of salary and benefits. Like other generations, Gen Z appreciates a healthy working environment, positive corporate culture and purpose-led company missions. But this generation of workers has unique needs and motivators, including:

Clearly, Gen Z workers want to feel engaged, connected and in sync with their employers and colleagues. From the hiring and onboarding experience to their rise through the ranks toward leadership, this generation wants to be heard. Flexibility, mobility, meaningful work and entrepreneurial freedom are the keys to their work satisfaction. Leaders who want to hire and retain members of this generation successfully will need adaptable leadership, policies and programs and  an inclusive workplace with experiences tailored to generational preferences.

A one-size-fits-all model of talent management no longer exists. Organizations simultaneously are facing five generations of very different workers, each with their own needs and motivators. And while managing them all effectively will require innovative human capital practices, it also will bring unique value by incorporating a diverse set of experiences, perspectives and ideas that can benefit every generation and enhance collaboration and innovation across the organization.

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