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How to engage and retain Gen Z employees in the workplace

how to retain gen z employees - Apryl
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The most recent group to join the workforce, Gen Z, has values and needs that echo those that came before them. Prioritising wellbeing, work-life balance and championing diversity, equality, and inclusion are all high on this cohort’s agenda. However, their view of the world, and thus the workplace, has been shaped by global issues including climate change, mental health conditions, inflation, social justice, and a pandemic.

All of this changes the way they navigate the working landscape. Gen Z employees are significantly more likely to leave a job for one they feel aligns more closely with their values compared to Gen X and Boomers.

So, how do employers keep hold of the Gen Z talent that they have and how do they attract those that are looking to leave their current role? In this article, we explore how to engage Gen Z employees by incorporating their priorities into your business strategies.

Provide flexibility as standard

Flexibility is one of the most sought-after benefits by employees with more than three-quarters of workers citing flexible working hours as a top priority. Despite demand, 46% of employees state they do not have the option for flexible working arrangements in their current role.

One way that businesses can, therefore, attract Gen Z employees is by offering flexibility as standard, from day one. And for flexible working to truly live up to its name, employers must give their staff a choice in the arrangement.

Homeworking

Almost half of UK adults worked at home at some point during the height of COVID-19 and it is an approach that continued to hold favour even once restrictions were lifted. 74% of Gen Z would opt for hybrid or totally remote work over being in the office full time. Giving employees the option to work from home allows them to have more control over their schedules, can reduce commuting stress, and promotes productivity, with 59% of full-time UK workers reporting increased productivity when working from home.

Job shares

Gen Z appreciates collaborative work environments. Job sharing, where two employees split the responsibilities of a full-time position, provides opportunities for teamwork, diversity of thought, and skill development, which can keep Gen Z employees engaged and motivated.

Four-day week

The four-day working week is gaining momentum. Campaigners for this form of flexible working argue that the 9-5 grind is outdated and no longer fit for purpose. They say that a 32-hour working week without loss of full-time pay benefits workers, employers, the economy, society, and the environment.

And it would seem that Gen Z job seekers agree. A UK survey revealed that 58% would actively search for a new role with another employer offering a four-day week, compared to an average of 50% across all other cohorts.

 Diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values

77% of Gen Z feel it’s important for their employer’s values to align with their own and 83% consider a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion when choosing an employer. Given that Gen Z are the most diverse cohort to date with regard to race, gender identity and sexual identity, employers must embrace the needs and values of the latest generation to enter the workforce to engage and attract them.

Sustainable practices

Gen Z is passionate about protecting the planet, so seeks employers that share the same point of view. According to a survey from the University of Bath, 41% of people aged 16-25 said they were hesitant to have children due to climate change, and more than 70% said their future is frightening. In addition, 70% of 16–19-year-olds say sustainability influences their purchasing decisions when it comes to fashion items.

Having a robust ESG (environmental, social and governance) strategy can demonstrate to current and prospective Gen Z candidates the positive steps your business is taking. An ESG strategy can incorporate many initiatives including recycling, using renewable energy, preventing abuse within the supply chain and diversity in leadership.

Family forming benefits

1 in 5 Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+ and more women are joining the workforce than ever before. This results in an increasing demand for employers to support inclusive family building. Offering employees fertility benefits, such as Apryl’s, make parenthood more accessible to employees regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or relationship status and demonstrate you are a family-friendly workplace. They also give choices to younger employees. For example, a recent survey we conducted revealed that 60% of 18-24-year-olds would consider freezing their eggs, sperm or embryos.

Demonstrate that mental health matters

Mental health issues in the workplace have been a prominent topic over the last few years, arguably bolstered by the impact of COVID-19 and government restrictions. 15% of working-age adults live with a mental health disorder but poor mental health affects Gen Z workers in greater numbers.

Of all age groups, Gen Z and Millennials have the highest rate of burnout, with 4 in 5 Gen Z employees saying they feel more burned out since the pandemic. These younger generations also experience more stress and anxiety, with more than a third revealing they feel this way the majority of the time. Employers can demonstrate that they take mental health seriously by weaving wellbeing into every aspect of their business.

Workplace culture

To create real, long-lasting change surrounding mental health, employers need to offer more than token gestures. One of the most important steps that businesses can take is fostering a supportive workplace culture where all employees, including Gen Z members of the workforce, feel they can discuss mental health without stigma or worry about how it will affect their standing at work.

Wellbeing benefits

42% of Gen Z consider wellbeing benefits to be a workplace priority and many unique employee benefit ideas can support employee wellbeing, including mental health. For example, creative break areas can give employees a dedicated space to unwind and lean into their creative talents. This in turn can benefit their mental health and contribute to a positive work environment.

Of course, there are also more common employee benefits such as access to therapy services, paid time off, and app subscriptions that can be highly valuable to Gen Z employees too.

Ultimately, Gen Z knows what they want and isn’t afraid to leave a position to get it. But it’s about more than just a salary. Their values lie in respect for people and the planet. When it comes down to how to retain Gen Z employees, employers must implement strategies that meet the needs of the business and its workers. For further insight into understanding your Gen Z workforce, download our Gen Z whitepaper.

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