Pay With Purpose: Motivating Gen Z Talent
The talent pipeline is something that has always existed. Professional sports illustrate it best: as older players start to decline in ability and value, younger ones come in with new skill sets to replace them. The cycle is indefinite.
With newer generations comes the need to adjust hiring and engagement practices to suit the wants and needs of current demographics. That’s why the process of hiring and retaining professionals from Gen Z (b. 1994-2001) requires a new and different approach.
Here are 7 truths about motivating Gen Z in the workplace that every HR professional should know.
- They want to be part of something meaningful. Global warming, poor wage growth, high cost of education and living, decreasing levels of privacy. Young professionals have inherited a dystopian world. Is it any surprise that they’re preoccupied with making a difference, often to the point of being obsessed? Their work is the one outlet that enables them to leave some kind of positive impact on the world, so it’s only natural that they aren’t motivated by helping their bosses buy new cars or million-dollar houses. Don’t be shocked when they refuse to work for employers who deal poorly with sexual harassment (79%) or harm the environment (72%).
- They want equitable compensation. There’s a reason home and car ownership rates are at an all-time low among the 25-34 age group. High student loans and rising costs of living aren’t being offset by a similar growth in salaries. When young professionals have to work multiple jobs or make do with a limited income, they aren’t going to be giving much more than the bare minimum. But when they feel their financial needs are being met, they’re 7x more likely to be committed and engaged.
- They want to know they’re being noticed. Young professionals might have a reputation for being self-centered, but they’re certainly not shy to give credit where it’s due. So it’s only natural that they expect to be recognized when they achieve something of value. In fact, this “praise drive” is so strong among Gen Z employees that the feeling of not being valued or appreciated leads to a 34% higher chance they’ll search for a new job.
- They don’t enjoy working with coasters. Nothing demotivates a young professional like being surrounded by people who only show up for their paycheck. Gen Z knows that life is too short to spend the majority of your time doing something that makes you unhappy or means little to you. That’s why they pour so much of themselves into their work, and it’s why they expect everyone around them to do the same. So when you put a highly driven 23-year-old developer in a team of jaded veterans, the former’s time is all but limited from day one.
- They want to work in an intellocracy. On a similar note, one of the quickest ways to lose the faith of your younger employees is to offer rewards on the basis of anything but merit. Gen Z professionals respect intelligence and ability. For them, age and experience are not as relevant as an individual’s ability to get the job done and lift the people around them. So when they start to see people rewarded for their connections or opinions rather than their ideas, they become 4x more likely to search for new jobs.
- They want a life beyond work. Ah, the famous ‘work-life balance’ dilemma. Gen Z knows the story of the 40-hour work week with weekends off and no calls or emails after 5 pm, but they also know that’s a different equation from a different time. You’ll rarely find a demographic more willing to be accessible throughout the week. But as a trade-off, they also want flexible work environments: telecommuting, liberal PTO policies, and the freedom to set at least part of their hours.
- They know you won’t find anyone more passionate. No generation in history has worked as hard and been rewarded as little as Gen Z. While the cost of housing and living have risen exponentially since the boomer era, minimum wage and average salaries have grown marginally. And yet the 60-hour work week is anything but uncommon (and that’s only counting time spent in the office). There are several justified criticisms to level at Gen Z, but a lack of passion is not one.
Simply put, Gen Z is willing to work hard but they also demand fairness in all departments from their employers.
While it might not be easy, it’s in the best interests of recruiters and HR professionals to dive deep into the psyche of the Gen Z professional. It can only be beneficial to understand what drives them, how they prefer to be rewarded and recognized, and the reasons that cause A-players in this demographic to leave their jobs.