What's the key to attracting and retaining Gen Z?

'What we are seeing is that turnover for Gen Z is at a rate that exceeds other generations' says study author

What's the key to attracting and retaining Gen Z?

Flexible work arrangements are even more important for organisations wanting to attract Gen Z talent, says one of the authors of The Future of Work by Herbert Smith Freehills.

The report surveyed 500 employers globally, focusing on work-related — and the return to office is dominating conversations.

“We've seen that clients moving to an in-office requirement of four or more days are finding it’s a real point of contention,” says Fatim Jumabhoy, managing partner, Singapore and Asia head of employment, pensions and incentives at Herbert Smith Freehills.

“Some employers are even tying bonuses to physical attendance in the office. Gen Z simply don't like this. They want a more flexible work environment.”

Gen Z: retaining talent

She acknowledges the disconnect is growing, particularly as the economy softens and job uncertainty rises.

"We’re at that pivotal moment where differing expectations are going to collide. Employers are feeling more emboldened to say, 'You need to be back in the office'. Not only do Gen Z not want this, they are also much more vocal about their requirements and concerns.”

The result, suspects Jumabhoy, is that not only will those organisations struggle to recruit, they will also find it difficult to retain talent, most markedly in Gen Z.

“Attrition is a major concern for boards,” she says. “What we are seeing is that job turnover for Gen Z is at a rate that exceeds other generations. Businesses need a different strategy if they want to retain their younger talent.”

Jumabhoy strongly believes one way to address this is through creating a mindset shift.

Lateral moves attractive to Gen Z

“My advice is to not assume that all employees value linear progression. Many are seeking different opportunities – perhaps lateral rather than linear. That poses different challenges in terms of how you make your organisation attractive.”

Many Gen Zs are looking at their careers as shorter chunks, she says.

“Success to them might not mean advancing to the next level within the same organisation, but rather making lateral moves,” Jumabhoy says.

“For instance, we know that travel is embedded into the DNA of Gen Z. By enabling employees to work in different locations, you cater to Gen Z's inherent love for travel. This flexibility not only attracts them to your organisation but also encourages their retention.”

Mindset shift required for Gen Z

The mindset shift needed by employers of Gen Z also requires being open to returnees, notes Jumabhoy.

“Bringing people back into the fold involves understanding that leaving for a competitor or exploring different opportunities doesn't signify disloyalty. They may return with new skills, enhancing their productivity and engagement.”

Opening up opportunities for interdepartmental experiences within the organisation assists in helping Gen Z fulfil lateral achievements, but that involves a mindset shift for managers, she says.

“If you can afford those opportunities for expansion within your organisation, you'll be able to hold on to people for much longer.”

Gen Z and AI

With the rise in use of AI, tech-savvy Gen Zers will likely be well equipped to used the advances created by the technology, predicts Jumabhoy, who recently hosted a webinar regarding AI in the workplace. As a result, she says, they will be able to do things more efficiently than other generations and be valuable to have on board.

“Having a generation adept at using tools that drive efficiency should be seen as a benefit. The challenge with AI and technology is that they automate repetitive tasks, which are often the building blocks of learning and understanding. If these tasks no longer exist, attaining expertise and proficiency becomes a significant challenge and requires employers to think creatively about how they pass that knowledge on.”

It’s likely, says Jumabhoy, that in time the solution to this will be that the definition of what we perceive to be ‘building blocks’ will change, with organisations needing to create different foundations from which new team members will start.

“It will take time and there's a risk that there will be a knowledge gap as basic tasks are automated. Training and re-skilling is vital in this area.”  

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