If you think your business is having a hard time selling to Gen Z, wait until you try to hire them. According to Morning Consult, 42% of Gen Z “tend to not trust the average American company,” which is a starkly higher percentage than even Millennials (30%).
And why is trust so low? The answer is most likely in a recent report that showed that only 8% of Gen Z feels strongly that brands understand them.
If your brand wants a piece of not just Gen Z’s $360 billion in disposable income, but also a slice of their soon-to-be third of the American workforce, you will probably have to rethink your branding to keep up with a changing landscape.
Let’s look at a few ways you can rebuild your brand to attract more Gen Z employees.
Re-examine Your Core Values
Start by taking stock of what core values your business will and, just as importantly, will not change or be flexible on. Catering to Gen Z will require some alterations, but if those changes mean your brand no longer holds true to what it stands for, then you can use that as a cornerstone to build your branding upon. Hey if Coke and Pepsi made it through the anti-soda health revolution still peddling sugar water, your business can survive changing generations too.
But what core values can you change that may be holding your brand back from connecting with young professionals? Or perhaps, what core values can you add? Now is a great time to survey your employees and ask them how they view the brand from the inside, particularly listening to the younger employees already within your company. The results can greatly inform you of what brand changes you should, and shouldn’t, make.
So, what values are important to Gen Z?
Gen Z Values Opportunity for Growth
According to a LinkedIn survey, Gen Z values personal growth in their professions more than every previous generation. 61% said they want “more opportunities to move up or increased responsibilities,” where Millennials topped out at 57%. Gen Z respondents also said that they would take up to a 5% pay cut for a “stronger chance to grow in the role” that they are put in.
In short for Gen Z, they don’t want to just clock in and clock out. They want meaningful work where they can contribute, be recognized for their efforts, and be promoted due to their successes. If they perceive that it’s too hard to move up in a company, they’re not going to take that job opening even if the starting salary is good.
How to Build This Into Your Brand: Your company needs to be proactive in showing potential job seekers that there are meaningful opportunities to move up the ladder, or at the very least to acquire new skills. The best way to do this is to put employee testimonials on your careers page that attest to their upward mobility. The proof, as they say, is in the middle-management pudding. Spotlight successes on LinkedIn and other social platforms as well.
Also make clear in your job postings that hires will be supported, mentored, and guided to move up the corporate ladder. Your business can even jump start this process by bringing on interns and helping place them once they graduate.
Gen Z Values Work Flexibility
Remote working isn’t a passing fad. To Gen Z, it might as well be a birthright. According to flexjobs, nearly 75% of Gen Z ranked workplace flexibility as the top employee benefit that they were searching for. This “flexibility” includes remote work and hours that aren’t confined to the traditional 9 to 5, but it also encompasses other aspects such as cross-departmental tasks & training.
In fact, companies are trying out some radical ideas to entice Gen Z workers:
Last fall, Legoland began to allow employees like Ms. Ross to have piercings, tattoos and colored hair. A national hospitality company has begun to experiment with a four-day workweek. The health care company GoodRx is permitting employees to work not just from home but from anywhere in the country, enlisting an outside company to provide ad hoc offices upon request. Other companies are carefully laying out career paths for their employees, and offering extensive mental health benefits and financial advice. - New York Times
This type of work flexibility is unprecedented, but it ties in well to how Gen Z approaches work: that it’s an extension of their lives, not where their lives pause.
How to Build This Into Your Brand: Implement remote work opportunities for your current employees if you already haven’t. On more and more company careers pages, employee profiles list each person’s city and whether they are a remote worker or not. The more eclectic your “employee map” is, the more your brand will be associated with a flexible work environment.
You can even encourage workers who are in different cities to record video clips providing a testimonial of why they enjoy working where they are. These can be posted to your social media.
And of course, broaden your search nation-wide to find great remote candidates. You can even make certain positions open to contract or part-time work, to add more flexibility options for Gen Z job hunters.
Gen Z Values Culture & Authenticity
Remember that statistic above about Gen Z distrusting most brands? It’s because they think most businesses only care about profits and nothing else. This is completely antithetical to young employees who champion social rights, diversity, environmentalism, and politics.
Of course, then you’ve got the Abe Lincoln cautionary tale of trying to make everyone happy all of the time. That’s impossible, and a great way to alienate some segments of not just your Gen Z employees, but other employees within your company.
Instead of trying to out-woke your competitors to hiring success, the better way to go is to focus on culture and authenticity, two things that Gen Z craves in a workplace. For culture, Gen Z likes to see diversity, a good work/life balance, attention to psychological and emotional health, and meaningful work. For authenticity, they want to see “money where your mouth is” initiatives, down-to-earth social media, and imperfections on display.
How to Build This Into Your Brand: Don’t overly-corporatize your brand’s social media. Include diversity and “lo-fi” into your videos (TikTok is a great example of this). Choose a cause that meshes with your brand (environmentalism, women in the workplace, etc) and support it visibly. Tell stories about these causes on your website and social platforms.
You can also encourage more community and culture by providing workplace areas where meals can be shared, which has shown to give boosts to productivity and a positive work environment. Provide mental health days off and put that benefit into your job posting. Show pictures of the company at volunteer events. And admit when you make missteps.
It’s not easy building a Gen Z-friendly brand that draws in job applicants, but it will be much harder if you ignore this and then have to scramble for new hires. PathMatch can help connect your brand with young professionals to help bring your company into this new era. Click here for a free demo of our talent-matching app today.