It’s 2022. Gen Z is officially making its way into the workforce. And Baby Boomers are on their way out.
During a period coined as The Great Resignation, how are you attracting and keeping Gen Zs as your employees?
A Gen Z POV to Employee Retention
Hi, I’m Nicole, an avid coffee drinker, yoga lover, and purpose-driven individual.
I’m also a Gen Z employee.
When it comes to my career, I value more than just a salary. I want to get more out of my 9 to 5 than carpal tunnel, excessive stress, and a paycheck.
Like other Gen Z employees, I want to feel inspired by my work. By challenging norms, I get innovative and create a lasting impact in the industry I work in.
Despite graduating from college into the worst job market this country has seen since the last recession, I was determined to find a job. Not just any job, but the starting point of my career.
I wanted to work for a company that puts its employees first. A company that forces me to step out of my comfort zone and offers never-ending learning opportunities.
As I embark on my career journey, I’ve seen so many friends and colleagues leave new jobs that they were so excited about. In fact, the turnover rate for 2021 was 57.3%, up from the national turnover rate in 2019, which was 36.4%.
What does this mean for employers? It’s important to ensure your employees look forward to their time at work rather than dreading it.
Aside from their day-to-day work, you want them to focus on all the reasons they want to stay at your company rather than thinking about leaving.
Employee Retention: What Is It and Why Is It Important?
Employee retention focuses on an organization’s ability to keep its employees. Approximately 31% of workers have quit a full-time job within the first six months of employment, with 4.3 million people leaving their jobs in August 2021 alone.
When an employee quits, the organization has to post a new job, spread the word, review resumes and applications, interview eligible candidates, hire someone, and then onboard them.
This entire process could take months and comes at a cost.
At this point, employers are throwing dollars out the window. The average cost of replacing an employee can range from half to two times that employee’s annual salary.
So how can you save time and money? Start by looking at ways to improve employee retention.
Conduct and look at exit interviews. Take the time to give each answer an in-depth review, noting what the company can improve on. Exiting employees are typically very honest about the reasons that ultimately made them leave.
Your HR department should work to implement solutions to common problems. When done effectively, your company will see employee retention improve.
Why Are We Leaving the Job Force?
- Only 16% of employees are fully satisfied with their employer’s response to employee feedback
- 34% of employees feel underappreciated by their supervisors
- 1 in 4 employees quit their job because of a strong desire to work from home
- Employees are 12x more likely to leave their current position because of perceived barriers to career growth.
So why are people of all ages leaving the job force at such rapid rates?
- COVID-19 uncertainties
- Unemployment benefits
- Baby Boomers (those born in 1946 – 1964) are retiring
- Better compensation and benefits packages are offered elsewhere
- New advancement opportunities within their current career are offered elsewhere
- Opportunity to pursue a different career altogether
It’s simple math.
If Baby Boomers are aging out of the workforce, you need to fill their jobs to decrease the labor shortage.
The natural solution is to promote from within the company. You’ll need to fill the entry-level positions with people joining the workforce for the first time.
Gen Z has joined the waiting room.
As you hire this younger generation, you’ll need to learn how to retain them. To appeal to a group that values balance and purpose over paychecks, your company must consider new ways to motivate and keep employees around.
So Who Is Gen Z?
Born between the late 1990s and early 2010s, Gen Z is defined by the technological period we grew up in.
As a part of this highly connected generation, I watched Steve Jobs return to Apple and create laptops for personal use. I watched laptops develop into mobile phones and saw the rise of tablets, fitness trackers, and smart TVs.
I watched my parents get laid off as businesses failed in the 2008 Stock Market Crash. Historical events characterize my life: 9/11, the wars in the Middle East, the first Black president, the MeToo Movement, the rise of LGBTQIA+ communities, and much more.
Gen Z as a group are adaptable as we’ve weathered constant monumental change in this world since birth, leaving us more independent and expecting less validation.
So how do these characteristics play into the workplace?
As a group, Gen Z is characterized as entrepreneurial, competitive, motivated by security, and driven by goals. In addition, Gen Z members are not afraid to take a stand for what they believe in.
We would rather be unemployed than unhappy as we strive for a work-life balance.
This kind of attitude towards work will positively affect all levels of your organization. Entry-level employees will usher out the cultural norms of working to exhaustion.
And you may see us as lazy or entitled, but I’m here to tell you that’s a misunderstanding.
Gen Z has firm beliefs, and we put our voices, time, and money behind them. We want our work to align with these beliefs; at our core, it’s who we are and what we do.
When we feel a sense of fulfillment, work becomes less about the paycheck and more about what we can accomplish together.
By 2025, Gen Z employees will make up 27% of the workforce. And that percentage will only continue to rise.
What can your company do to retain highly motivated Gen Z employees?
Strategies to Retain Your Gen Z Employees
1. Create a Company Culture Your Employees Believe In
Everyone wants to work for a “cool” company. The easiest way to become that “cool” company is to build a company culture your employees can get behind. It’s not about pool tables or having nitro cold brew on tap; it’s about creating a place all employees feel welcome and seen.
When your employees buy into your company’s mission, they are eagerly engaged, become more brand-aware and ultimately grow into your brand’s biggest advocates.
In the post-pandemic world, many companies offer remote and work-from-home opportunities. If your company offers a hybrid solution, make sure you provide equal opportunities for remote workers and in-person workers.
For example, if you’re offering an in-person meet-up for Happy Hour, send your remote workers a DoorDash credit and a Zoom link where they can hop on and get to know each other.
2. Prioritize a Clear Work-Life Balance
Don’t just talk the talk.
A clear work-life balance shouldn’t just separate work from life. It should also prioritize wellbeing at work.
Schedule rest days or “wellness days” about once a quarter for your employees to give them permission to take breaks.
You can also send out wellness packages during busy times of the year, such as wrapping up a quarter or hitting hard deadlines. Wellness packages can come as a present, a personalized note from their direct manager, a gift card, etc.
Be sure to offer check-ins. In promoting company culture, you want your employees to feel comfortable reaching out to any team member for support. Facilitate these connections by providing a time when employees can be people together and chat and let loose.
3. Give Your Employees the Benefits They Want
Just because you think you’re offering great benefits doesn’t mean your employees agree. It’s time to let your employees tell you what they want. To provide them with benefits they actually value:
- Send out employee surveys
- Listen to individual opinions during check-ins
- Collect feedback during team meetings
Once you’ve figured out what your employees value, build a benefits package that’s attractive to them. This benefit package should encompass total wellness.
Unsurprisingly, nearly one-fifth of HR professionals have altered benefit programs to retain employees in the last 12 months.
Need some ideas?
- Financial Wellness Benefits: 401k matching, student loan repayment plans, flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, discounted phone plans, tuition reimbursement, professional development funds, childcare stipend, employee referral program
- Physical Wellness Benefits: fitness classes, wellness reimbursement, free flu shots, transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, unlimited sick days, vouchers for massages, or chiropractor appointments, in vitro fertility treatment coverage, eldercare services
- Emotional Wellness Benefits: paid bereavement leave, mental health workshops, employee assistance programs, mental health days, remote work programs, on-site daycare for those working hybrid days
- Social Wellness Benefits: company book club, in-house mentorship program, paid-industry certifications, unconscious bias and diversity training, volunteer opportunities, guest speaker sessions, summer Fridays, birthday PTO, job shadowing, catered lunches and snacks
4. Employees Should Feel Seen and Heard
Send out surveys and listen to employee feedback regarding company events. People value their opinions being heard.
Acknowledge new ideas and any suggestions. Then, when possible, try to incorporate these ideas into upcoming events.
Keep company morale high by highlighting employees around the office, on social media, and the company website.
Engage your employees by sharing company news, achievements, and big wins in all-hands meetings.
5. Invest in Employee Growth
You increase retention by offering your employees an opportunity to grow within the company.
Set up internal workshops to foster collaboration and grow employee skills. Create a budget for teams to take classes and earn certifications together, encouraging career growth.
If an employee expresses interest in a career change, work with them to see if they can achieve the next step in their career goal within your company. You can do this through monthly check-ins, regular promotions and performance reviews.
Finally, outline how employees can earn promotions and communicate this to the individual and the company. Clarity always wins!
6. Pay Competitively
Shop around and look at what your competitors are paying their employees. Then ensure you are paying each individual employee for the adequate amount of work they accomplish.
You can reward your employees by setting up a simple plan for bonuses. This plan should be clear to all employees and include everyone.
No Solution is Simple
Everyone is different.
As Gen Z employees, we seek different things out of our careers than those who came before us.
If you can pay attention to what we’re looking for in an employer, you’ll be able to secure a team of driven individuals who are dedicated to working hard and loyal to your company.
Focus on these six strategies to foster employee engagement, growth, and, ultimately, retain the talent you already have.