Adapting Recruitment and Retention for the Newest Generation of Workers

July 11, 2024
By Nelson Connects

Recruitment & Retention Strategies for Younger Generations


Every year, the labor landscape changes as younger workers enter the workforce and older workers retire. According to a report by Johns Hopkins University, the makeup of the current workforces approximates:

  • 39% Millennials
  • 36% Generation X
  • 19% Baby Boomers
  • 6% Generation Z

By 2030, the makeup will drastically change, as Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) will make up around 30% of the workforce. And in 2030, the next group, Generation Alpha, will begin to enter the workforce.


To prepare for new generations of employees, companies will need to assess and adapt their recruitment and retention strategies to ensure they can effectively attract and retain the dynamic pool of younger talent.


In this guide, we share some ways to understand what today’s younger workers want so you can implement recruitment and retention strategies that work.


Understanding Gen Z in the Workplace


By looking at what Gen Zs want from their work lives, employers can better understand the emerging workplace trends that will likely impact future generations of workers, as well. A recent Great Place to Work report illuminated how Gen Z’s characteristics are poised to influence the workplace. Key findings include:

  • Gen Z is the most diverse generation in the workplace, with 47% of Gen Z employees identifying as being a person of color. That means a company’s strong focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) matters to younger candidates when they consider applying for roles. Maintaining an authentic, visible commitment to workplace diversity will likely be key to retaining future generations of workers.

  • Gen Z employees are the most likely to leave their employers. They are 32% more likely to leave than Millennials, 2 times more likely to leave than Gen X, and 2.80 times more likely to leave than Baby Boomers. With these numbers, employers are wise to prioritize Gen Z retention by paying fair compensation, promoting purposeful work, and providing a psychologically and emotionally healthy environment.

  • Gen Z workers are also the most likely to be distrustful of employers, having felt significant effects from COVID-19 in terms of negative workplace experiences. Employers must check in with younger workers and frequently survey and follow up with this cohort to deliver a meaningful work experience.

Another important insight, which includes both Gen Z and Millennials, is that younger workers want flexibility in both their work environment and work schedule. Deloitte reports that most Gen Z and Millennial workers prefer a hybrid work environment, with both generations wanting full control of where they work. Companies that can offer flexibility will likely be better able to attract and retain younger employees.


Recruitment Strategies


To reach younger workers, companies need to use the same communication channels, feature language and imagery younger workers can relate to, and be transparent about what to expect from the role and workplace.


A few tips for recruiting the newer generation of workers include:

  1. Use social media and online platforms. Being active on social media is critical for companies trying to reach younger candidates. Research reported by Employee Benefit News indicates 73% of job seekers ages 18 to 34 found their last job through social media. On social media platforms, you can show off your workplace culture, highlight your values and mission, showcase philanthropic efforts, and post open jobs.

    But remember: It’s critical to use Gen Z’s preferred platforms, which currently include Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, and to stay current as new platforms emerge over time.

  2. Incorporate technology. The newest generation of workers wants a fast recruitment process. According to a report by “Fast Company,” 60% of Gen Z job seekers believe it should take fewer than 15 minutes to apply for a job. You can use technology that enables job seekers to use their LinkedIn profile when applying, to speed up the process of filling out an application.

    Speed also matters for interview and job offer processes. Nearly one-fifth of young job seekers expect a job offer within the first week of the first interview. Using technology automation, including artificial intelligence (AI) and online candidate dashboards, can keep job seekers aware of where they are in your hiring process. This helps prevent candidates from dropping out because of a lack of communication.

  3. Be transparent. To attract and retain younger workers who are a fit for the role and your company, be transparent about all job responsibilities. A study published by Symplicity shows that 53% of Gen Z respondents wouldn't apply for a job if the description didn't include a specific salary range.

    The study also found newer workers want clarity into job responsibilities so they feel qualified to apply, while 85% of respondents think pay equity and transparency are important. When recruiting, state an accurate salary range and give applicants insights into how your company supports DEI efforts.

Retention Tactics


Companies need to create strong and meaningful retention strategies that reflect the needs and desires of Gen Z employees.


Some retention tactics that resonate with newer generations include:

  1. Professional development. Data from a LinkedIn Employee Well-Being Report shows the top driver of work culture was the opportunity “to learn and grow.” This is especially important to younger workers, as the report found that 76% of Gen Zs want more time to learn or practice new skills. In comparison, 61% desire more opportunities to increase responsibilities or advance their careers.

    When hiring new workers, managers can create a career development plan that maps out advancement opportunities with your company. It’s important to identify training and job skills required for advancement and to regularly check in with employees about their career progression.

  2. Workplace flexibility. If your company can offer hybrid or remote work options and allow employees to set their own schedules, you have great potential to build employee loyalty. A report by FlexJobs shows that nearly 75% of Gen Z workers say workplace flexibility is the top employee benefit they want. In addition to flexible work hours and environments, Gen Z wants the ability to change career paths, which managers can address in one-on-ones and career plan check-ins.

  3. Support work-life balance. The Society for Human Resource Management recently called Gen Z “Generation Stressed.” That's because members of this generation are more likely to report feeling emotionally distressed than any other generation – up to twice as much as Millennials and Gen X. A recent study by Calm found that 67% of workers expect employers to support mental health, which can include offering mental health benefits, promoting mental health awareness and resources, and allowing employees to take time off for mental health. To better understand what mental health means to employees, companies can survey them on what they want and need and then act.

Speaking of surveys, the best way to engage younger workers is to ask them what they want from their work life, and then find ways to deliver. Managers should frequently engage with those they manage and use career development plans and learning and development opportunities to help younger teams advance their careers.


Create a Growth-Centered Work Environment


Although younger workers prefer flexibility, they also want the ability to be on-site and interact directly with more tenured employees. LinkedIn found that Gen Z is the least likely among all generations to apply for fully remote roles. At work, younger team members may be receptive to mentorship programs and opportunities to interact with more experienced employees on an ongoing basis.


To remain actively connected with incoming generations of workers, companies will do well to stay agile and responsive to these workforces’ changing needs. As younger workers become a larger percentage of the workforce, a forward-looking perspective on the future of recruitment and retention will give your company a solid competitive advantage.


If you need to hire competitive talent, Nelson Connects can help. Talk to an account manager to find out more about how we partner with organizations like yours.


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