Attracting and Retaining the Emerging Digital Native Workforce
This article originally appeared in Volume 2, Issue 2 of <theScript> Quarterly digital magazine.
Millennials have surpassed Gen Xers and baby boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor pool. Since the Pew Research Center report citing this was published in May 2015, many other studies have attempted to define what this means for the U.S. labor force. Some have honed in on statistics in an attempt to better understand millennials and often offer characterizations of the generation as lazy, entitled and narcissistic.
I work with a lot of millennials, so I know they're not a monolithic cohort and, more importantly, I believe there will be a more disruptive force than the millennials: the post-millennials – or Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2010 – who have been entering the workforce for a couple of years now.
Most people consider millennials to be relatively tech-savvy, but it is the post-millennials who are the true digital natives. The oldest of them was only 10 years old when the iPhone was introduced, so they don't remember life before virtual keyboards and app stores. For them, streaming music and sharing photos and videos from a mobile device in real time is not the new normal; it's just normal. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates Gen Zers will make up more than 10% of the workforce by 2020.
Companies should not underestimate the changes they will need to make to their workplace culture, policies and systems if they want to effectively enable and retain this young and talented group of workers. Of course, in order to enable Gen Zers, companies first have to attract and recruit them. Here are three specific ways to attract Generation Z's top talent:
1. Update your website.
A prospective employer's website is one of the first places most people seeking employment look. Make sure yours is updated with relevant content, it's efficient and user-friendly, and it incorporates a vibrant branding strategy. If you don't have a digital marketing team, consider hiring a third-party resource to update your website and ensure you're projecting messaging synergy across all online platforms.
If you're not using modern web authoring tools and your site looks and feels “old school,” it can be a real turnoff to digital natives. Make sure your website incorporates the types of media and content relevant to tech-savvy users, and consider a digital marketing message that first seeks to inform and solve problems rather than promoting the virtues of your company.
2. Maintain an aggressive social media presence.
Today's candidates are more connected via social media platforms than ever before. Companies that maintain a forward-thinking social media presence that incorporates branding and shareable content are a step ahead of the rest in getting the attention of post-millennials.
Actively monitoring review-based social platforms such as Glassdoor, Vault and Indeed can help you better understand and interpret employee feedback and optimize workplace culture. If you're not aware of your company's rating on these sites, you should be. And if you're not proactively managing your messaging there and on other sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, you're missing a huge opportunity to make your company more attractive and visible to top talent. Be sure your strategy includes shareable content for younger employees to promote on their personal accounts to attract talent from their expansive networks.
3. Create mobile-friendly job applications.
We spend a third of our waking lives on our smartphones and other digital devices, according to Digital Trends. Although this estimate may seem high, it's probably safe to say young people are spending more time than ever on mobile devices, and they expect to be able to do more with them than just consume information.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, seven out of 10 job seekers prefer to use mobile technology to search for jobs. However, only 45% of employers have mobile-friendly career sites, according to a 2016 Jobvite report. Are you missing out on an opportunity to differentiate your company and attract top talent by not mobilizing your recruiting process?
Assuming you've done all the right things to successfully attract digital natives to your team, be sure to examine how your workplace culture, policies and systems are optimized to retain them. Forward-thinking companies are undertaking several strategies to ensure they're effectively enabling Gen Zers. Those initiatives include implementing modern performance management systems, developing leadership programs, providing opportunities to participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and tweaking polices related to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, flexible work schedules and access to digital media from company-owned assets.
Curt Cornum is Insight's vice president of services and chief solution architect. He helps business and IT leaders develop solution frameworks and reference architectures that use technology to deliver business outcomes.