Published: May 07, 2019

Written by Kronos intern Amanda Martineau. Amanda is an intern working with the SMB product marketing team on outreach, content marketing, and content development. She will be returning to the University of Massachusetts Lowell this fall where she is majoring in marketing & management.

Just when you feel like you’ve finally mastered the art of recruiting a Millennial, a new generation of employees comes along. Figures, right? But don’t worry, because today I’m going to share some insights on what not to do when hiring Gen Z from a member herself – yours truly. 

Avoid these four mistakes when hiring Gen Z candidates: 

Fashionable young woman using smartphone - Gen Z candidate concept

1.    Talking about the what instead of the why

Sure, discussing with your candidates what it is they will actually be doing is a viable part of the hiring process, but for Gen Z candidates, that’s not enough. They want to know about the why. In other words, they want to do meaningful work that makes an impact on those around them. In fact, according to a research report from Robert Half, a global human resource consulting firm, 30% of Gen Z would take a 10 – 20% pay cut to work for a company with a mission they deeply cared about. Highlighting your company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and emphasizing the impact a candidate’s role will have on the wider organization can give you a competitive edge when recruiting the next generation of employees. 

2.    Using legacy technology 

I read on the internet once (it must be true then, right?) that a single Google query uses the same amount of computing power as it took to launch the first Apollo space mission. Gen Z was born into a world with that much technological power at their fingertips. As you can imagine, this has had a major impact on their workplace expectations. Gen Z has become accustomed to the ease and immediacy of their consumer technology, and you can be sure they’ll expect nothing less from their workplace technology. It makes sense if you think about it. In a world where mobile technology allows us to order virtually anything and have it waiting for us when we walk in the door, why should it still take days or weeks for our time off request to be approved? Why should it be easier to search for new movies on Netflix than to check our schedules or enroll in benefits? By offering mobile, self-service HR software and implementing new technology with a strong focus on user experience, you can prepare yourself for the future of work. 

3.    Forgetting about feedback 

One of the biggest differences between Gen Z and previous generations in the workplace is their need for continuous performance feedback. As I mentioned in my previous point, technology shapes Gen Z’s workplace expectations. It has allowed Gen Z access to constant communication and instant feedback in their personal lives through things like social media, and as a result these are two things they’re looking for from their coworkers and supervisors as well. In fact, according to a generational study done in 2018, 66% of Gen Z needs feedback from their supervisor at least every couple of weeks or more to stay at their job. This means annual performance reviews aren’t enough if you’re looking to retain Gen Z employees long term. By implementing performance management software that allows you to continuously access employee performance, check in on established goals, and frequently recognize their achievements, you won’t only be improving company culture and employee engagement, you’ll be putting yourself one step ahead in the race to retain Gen Z talent.  

4.    Overlooking the value of flexibility 

Aside from creating an open environment that supports and rewards Gen Z candidates, businesses also need to be focused on offering a highly flexible approach to work. While benefits like competitive pay and healthcare might be top priorities for older generations, a 2018 Deloitte study found that a lack of work flexibility is the most likely reason a Gen Z candidate would quit their job and that flexibility beat out just about all other job perks. Gen Z is looking for work-life balance and wants to be able to view their schedule, select shift preferences, and make time off requests right from their mobile device.  So instead of investing in short-term perks like ping pong tables and free candy Fridays, it may prove more strategic to focus on perks that reap long-term benefits, like employee self-service and mobile scheduling software that allows for increased flexibility. 

In summary 

Although no two employees are exactly alike, generations are shaped by the time in which they were born and the shared experiences they’ve had. Gen Z candidates have similarities and motivations that differ from previous generations before them, so learning what these similarities and motivations are early on will be crucial for any HR professional to maximize their ability to attract and retain this emerging workforce. I hope these tips are a helpful first step in learning about Gen Z candidates and how you can best reshape your organization to meet their needs.