How to hire Generation Z

Millennials have dominated work-related headlines for a long time, but over the last years a new generation has been entering the workforce: Gen Z. We are often described as the first generation of digital natives, having grown up on our phones and the internet. How has that shaped our expectations for employment? And more importantly, how can employers position themselves to attract the growing Gen Z talent pool?

Who are Gen Z?

Generational borders are always hazy and hard to define, and there really are no clear cut-offs. The Pew Research Centre defines 1997 as the starting year for the generation, with 2012 being a tentative endpoint. Other publications push the start as far back as 1995, but what truly distinguishes this generation are their formative experiences.  

Gen Z, sometimes called Zoomers, are the first true digital natives. I am already on the older end of the generation; my first mobile phone was not yet a smartphone. I do remember how fast they spread, quickly becoming the norm among my classmates. We are not the first generation to explore the internet either, but perhaps the first to be fully submerged in it. While this becomes more obvious with people on the younger end of the age bracket, I too can easily trace the internet as an incredibly formative influence throughout my teenage years.

But what else sets apart Gen Z? Statistically we are more ethnically diverse and less religious than previous generations. There is also a stronger push for inclusivity, and more focus on social issues, climate consciousness, and mental health.

Another thing that looms large over our entry into adulthood and the workforce, is the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of us had just finished school and were starting to work when lockdowns were implemented. While all generations had to adapt to online classes and remote work, I believe that for Gen Z it happened at a critical juncture, decisively shaping our expectations about working life.  But what exactly are those expectations? What are our priorities when looking for a job, and what makes us stay in those jobs?

Hiring the Class of 2023

Pay, feeling the workplace was detrimental to their mental health, and burnout are the top reasons millennials and Gen Zs left their employers over the last two years.

Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey

There is a common theme in most articles and surveys on the internet when it comes to “What Gen Z wants from employers”. The first thing that usually gets mentioned, is how tech savvy and digitally native Gen Z is, which is why developing a strong profile or presence online can be one key step to take.

There is a strong focus on hybrid or flexible working and support from the employer, whether in the form of feedback, development opportunities or concrete benefits. Another key area seems to be towards a positive workplace culture, with a focus on diversity and inclusivity – not surprising given the attention workplace racism, sexual discrimination and harassment have received in recent years.

Taken from the Deloitte survey, the image shows the top reasons respondents chose to work for their current organisation.

Personal wellbeing features in these lists regularly too. Mental well-being and a work/life balance are often listed as priorities, and burnout or stress are listed as reasons to leave an employer.

But what about a deeper insight? The Deloitte 2022 Gen Z and Millennial survey takes a much more in-depth approach. Of course, the survey asked its respondents for the top reasons they chose to work for their current employers, but it delved beyond that. The survey asks about top concerns (cost of living and climate change), and poses questions about financial pressures, hybrid working patterns, workplace sustainability and mental health.

Its not about the work

The report concludes with five clear recommendations for business leaders which I have included below. However, to anyone who is interested in getting a more data-driven understanding of why Gen Z ticks the way it does, I would recommend reading the report yourself. It lays bare not only the What, but also the Why of Gen Z employment priorities.  

What this survey in particular highlights, is that these priorities are rarely about the work itself. It is always about the work environment and the culture, and what an employer can offer its employees. It’s not that “nobody wants to work anymore” – merely that the conditions of work, whether that constitutes insufficient pay, lacking benefits, or an outdated company attitude, that make it an unattractive place to work.

Making your company attractive to the Gen Z talent pool might be as easy as updating and improving your online presence or offering hybrid work options. Another option might be an improved benefits package, or better opportunities for growth within the company. Ultimately its about creating a workplace, where employees feel like they are valued and safe as members of the organisation, and that their work has value and can economically sustain them.

Here are the recommendations from the Deloitte 2022 Survey, which is again linked in the Sources section below.

  • Support people struggling with economic uncertainty and financial stress
  • Empower people to lead and drive change
  • Implement hybrid work strategies
  • Prioritize climate action, and empower people to help
  • Support better workplace mental health


2019 6 Gen Z Traits You Need to Know to Attract, Hire, and Retain Them

Generation Z – Wikipedia

Global Talent Trends | LinkedIn Talent Solutions

Guide to Hiring & Retaining Gen Z: 7 Things They Value Most

The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey | Deloitte Global

What Does Gen Z Expect in the Workplace?