Attracting and retaining the top Generation Z and Alpha talent was the subject of BusinessCloud’s latest roundtable with recruitment marketplace Hiring Hub.
Research has found that the average attention span of Gen Z individuals is just eight seconds – four seconds less than that of millennials.
The challenge facing employers is stark, especially as a recent study found that 79 per cent of people are disengaged at work and 39 per cent of people are planning to jump ship this year.
Saskia Cochrane is the head of attraction at London-based Wiser and helps the UK’s top employers to attract early talent.
She said the Gen Z generation are used to having a ‘squiggly career’ because they change roles and typically prioritise things like protecting their mental health and giving something back to society over salary.
“Gen Z like to be communicated with differently to millennials,” she said. “They are digital nomads. They love quick information, straight to the point. TikTok and all of that is all around their short attention span.
“Gen Z’s attention span is eight seconds – 50 per cent less than millennials so you really need to know what you’re doing when it comes to communicating why someone should work for you.”
Simon Swan is the founder of Hiring Hub and had eight key takeaways from the discussion.
• Salary isn’t everything, but Gen-Z/Alpha expect salary transparency
• Development opportunities and clear route of progression are very important
• Seek mission-led businesses with clear values – it’s not just a job
• Companies must be authentic – it’s not what you say but what you do
• Average attention span of Gen Z is eight seconds – get their attention straight away in ads
• Expect to stay in early roles for no more than two years, before moving on
• Most receptive to referrals and recommendations from peers
• Apprenticeships are brilliant, but perhaps still undervalued?
Swan added: “Authenticity and being honest is really important. That happens to be one of our values. You need to communicate very clearly who you are and what you have to offer people.”
Transparent on salaries
Emily Moffat is the head of talent at Basecamp Talent and Fearless Adventures and said employers need to be transparent about salary ranges and point people in the right direction if they can’t help.
“Remember every applicant is a human being, not a number,” she said. “Don’t underestimate Gen Z. They know what they want just because they don’t have to ask for it. Start looking at what we can do to cater for those people’s needs.”
Invest in staff development
Georgia Fitzgerald is commercial director of The Juice Academy and said investing in developing existing employees is as important as finding new hires.
“Be clear with the progression routes from the very start,” she said. “Define where they can go and what development opportunities you can offer. Make them feel like it’s a two-way street. That should help with retention.”
‘Be a peacock’
Fiona Armstrong is the chief people officer at Wrexham-headquartered Moneypenny, which employs 1,200 people.
Her advice to attract and retain young talent is simple. “Be a peacock,” she said. “Make your recruitment stand out. Emphasise the culture and social side.”
Armstrong said companies should think of an interview as a date so that candidates feel the company’s passion and enthusiasm come through.
“For us it’s all about career journey,” she said. “We have a really clear path that is tied into the company’s principles.”
Company culture is key
Caroline Monk is executive partner at Beever and Struthers and said her approach has been influenced by her Gen Z children.
“The training to qualify as an accountant is a three-year process at the shortest and we really want to keep people two years post that,” she said. “That’s five years and that’s the challenge. What you have to do is make the company culture work across the board. It needs to be authentic.”
Leaders must listen
Patrick Smith is the founder and CEO of cybersecurity startup Zally, which is aiming to make passwords obsolete.
The company has expanded to 11 staff and Smith said a culture can’t be forced.
“The important thing for us as leaders is to learn how we can create that culture that can cater for their needs,” he said. “We need to speak to them and have an open dialogue.”
James Cole is the CEO of luxury cruise retailer Panache Cruises, which has more than doubled its turnover to £20m and increased its workforce to 55.
The Chorley-based business wants to employ 100 apprentices by 2030 and offers a number of employee benefits, including free lunches made by celebrity chef Lashuan Pryce and an extra employer contribution to staff pensions.
“For me it’s all about embracing apprenticeships,” said Cole. “You’ve always got to challenge yourself on how you communicate with people and obviously social media is a good way of doing that across all recruitment.
“It’s important to tailor packages to people, whether that’s salary or different benefits.”
Danielle Ingham is a partner at law firm Trowers & Hamlin and said companies need to be open-minded to recruit and retain young talent.
“Don’t assume that because something has been done in a particular way for the generation before, that it has to be that way,” she said.
“Take as personalised and personal approach as you can and really get to the heart of what people want.”
Adam Newey is the head of customer development at Collctiv and spent eight years prior to that working in recruitment.
Before a candidate has an interview at Collctiv, Newey will phone them up in advance for a 15-minute chat to make sure the role is right for them.
“Make every day (like) an exit interview,” he said. “It’s almost like a premortem. Everybody has got an exit interview process whereby you say ‘that’s what we did wrong’. Why not do that before someone is at the exit interview stage? It’s important employers understand what people want rather than what you think they want.”
Move with the times
Jed Shaw is a talent acquisition partner at Stockport-headquartered CDL, which employs over 600 people.
He said: “It’s important to communicate with Gen Z as they’re used to being communicated with.”
Laura Falder is an HR and recruitment advisor at Glossop-based Flair Rugs.
She said: “Don’t be afraid to try something different with your recruitment strategy and the time is now to act on it. Be authentic and have that creativity in mind so you can bring future talent to your teams.”
Listen to Gen Z
Sam Wright is a talent co-ordinator and Phoenix Medical Supplies and at 25 is a Gen Z himself.
“Invest in development to give people options to move into,” he said. “Gen Z need to be listened to when they’re in the job and their ideas are taken onboard.”
Breaking down stereotypes
Charlette De Toms-Scott is also a talent coordinator at Phoenix Medical Supplies and said employers had to break down stereotypes for certain roles.
“Showing career progression of what we can offer will be a big sell to Gen Z,” she said.