It has been an ongoing challenge for employers to attract and retain younger employees who tend to change jobs every few years. Since the pandemic, many of these young employees have experienced a more obvious misalignment between what they look for in a job and what their employers offer, which further accelerated the pace of their job switch. According to LinkedIn’s data, Gen Z employees are changing jobs at a rate of more than doubled in 2019.
With the number of job vacancies returned to or exceeded the pre-covid level in many locations across the Asia Pacific, including Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, young employees are more open to new opportunities.
To retain and attract Generation Z, a different strategy is required. A lot of research has shown that young employees are consistent proponents of virtual work and flexibility. To win in the war of talent, tech companies globally have announced workplace changes to better meet the needs of young talent, which in return supports their aggressive company growth. In hindsight, workplace flexibility is one of many benefits that is commonly provided to enhance the work-life balance of employees and increase staff retention.
Workplace flexibility is the bottom line
In 2020 when the Australian-bred tech company Atlassian informed their employees that they can choose wherever they want to work, the level of employee satisfaction and the number of applications increased significantly, which has been crucial to supporting the growth of the company, Atlassian CEO Scott Farquhar shared in an interview.
When Airbnb announced earlier this year that their employees can decide where they want to work and live globally, they experienced an increase of 800,000 potential candidates visiting their careers page.
The shifts have successfully raised brand awareness of these tech companies among candidates across all job levels. Many proponents of workplace flexibility have therefore advocated that fully remote, hybrid work arrangements and flexible work hours are the most essential factors for Gen Z to evaluate an employer, but are these all they want to make a career move?
Don’t stop at the bottom line. 4 other ways to retain Gen Z
While workplace flexibility is one of the key attraction factors of many companies, there are other important factors for junior talent and recent graduates to decide which company to join.
Some of the common considerations include:
- Career progression: Career advancement is one of the must-haves for Gen-Z to evaluate a job opportunity. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 40% of Gen Z is willing to take an up-to-5% pay cut for more opportunities to grow in a role, compared to 32% of millennials and 30% of Gen X.
These numbers show that while attracting talent through flexible work arrangements is important, retaining them requires ongoing investment to develop their skills, offer opportunities for them to take up bigger roles, and give them access to mentors who can support their development throughout their careers.
- Relationships with colleagues: When we interviewed recent junior hires of a global investment bank in Japan to understand why they chose their employer over its competitors, it was found that people's relationships influenced them the most in their career decision.
The company offered new employees an opportunity to work with their future team for a week during the recruitment process and when an offer was made, the managing director contacted the candidates individually rather than through a recruiter. The young employees felt that they were valued and respected, and they appreciated the open culture of the company.
Over 90% of those we spoke to confirmed that they joined and stayed with their current company because of its people. It was the people who they had the chance to speak with during their interview process and in the first few months that made the most difference. Employers should not underestimate the importance of human interactions in creating a positive employee experience even when recruiting a generation of digital natives.
- Impact of their work: As purpose-driven individuals, Gen-Z has a strong desire to make a good impact on society and the environment around them. They are more attracted to organisations that aim to create a better impact on their clients, society and the broader community.
Organisations, therefore, need to clearly define their purpose, goals and objectives in their regular communications with employees. When the younger workforce continues to find alignment between their personal goals and the broader organisational vision, they will find meaning in their work and increase job satisfaction.
- The workplace culture: Having a strong mission and set of values that demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to its employees, customers, stakeholders and the wider society helps attract young talent, but what retains them is how the organisation continues to exhibit their promises in their day-to-day actions, including in townhall meetings and team interactions. It takes ongoing commitment and investment of a company to deliver what it claims, and the responsibility usually falls on the leadership and management teams.
While some employers may think that sustainable business growth itself provides a good picture of their promises to their employees, not many employees or candidates keep themselves updated with company announcements unless there is a direct impact on their work. A workplace culture that encourages transparent and regular communication across all levels, therefore, helps young candidates differentiate between a good employer and an average one.