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Best Practices for Managing Generation Z

As Generation Z starts to job hunt and consider their career paths, it’s important that managers and employers take the time to understand the newest generation to enter the workforce, especially since they may hold the key to helping solve the construction industry’s growing talent gap in the field.

As we have learned from hiring and overseeing millennials, not every generation should be recruited and managed the same way. Gen Zers are no different, which is why new strategies to entice the newest generation in to working on jobsites and to keep the work engaging so your company hires those most likely to stick around long-term.

Not sure what goes into hiring Gen Z talent or even where to start? Keep reading for the best practices on how to begin to recruit, grow, and retain this incoming workforce.

Who is Generation Z?

Generally defined as people born between the mid-90s and the early aughts, with 25-year-olds being the oldest members of the generation, this tech-savvy group is also know colloquially as Zoomers and Centennials.

Why to invest in Gen Z

Since Gen Zers came of age in a post-9/11 world during a time of great stress and uncertainty, they often feel lucky just to be employed and are willing to pay their dues by starting at the bottom of a company and working their way up the ladder, all while displaying a strong entrepreneurial spirit. They are not looking for a role that will define their lives but seek to find meaning outside of work, making Generation Z more willing than millennials, who were pressured to pursue a college degree regardless of actual aspirations, to compromise and take on trade positions.

Additionally, for monetary reasons, this upcoming workforce believes that you should only invest in a college education if you know what career you want and if that job requires an additional degree, allowing them to be recruited into the construction industry early in their work career and quickly help with the current labor shortage.

And while the construction industry is known to be slow to adopt new technologies, having grown up with the internet, Gen Z is extremely comfortable using the latest and greatest gadgets and platforms. This understanding, combined with their DIY spirit, makes them extremely suited to solve industry problems via technology and help streamline processes and procedures with their out-of-the-box thinking.

What Gen Zers want

Thanks in large part to growing up during a recession and seeing how it negatively impacted their parents and Millennial counterparts, Generation Z is looking for positions with forward-thinking company that:

  • Can support them financially
  • Provides job stability
  • They can envision working at for a long period of time
  • Allows them to grow and adapt to a constantly changing economy
  • Can evolve as technology changes
  • Enables a healthy work-life balance

Ways to attract Gen Z

Unlike millennials, stronger incentives and high-paying salaries will earn Gen Zers loyalty, but you can also utilize other recruitment techniques to attract Zoomer talent, including:

  • Looking for ways to partner with high schools to get on students’ radars as soon as possible, especially since Gen Z begin considering their career path as early as their freshman year
    • Some easy-to-implement ideas include attending career fairs, hosting seminars, and creating educational outreach programs for teachers and guidance counselors to highlight career opportunities within the construction industry
  • Creating recruitment days so potential employees can see firsthand what the industry is like, interact with older employees, and hear about their experiences
  • Developing a social media recruitment program that shows off your company culture on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and if you’re feeling creative: TikTok
    • Types of content can include written employee testimonials and experiences, videos from employee ambassadors, timeline takeovers featuring a day in the life of specific positions, and highlighting various employee benefits
    • The key is to be interesting and engage with your audience, to show them how great the construction industry is, not tell them through an advertisement
  • Encouraging existing employees to post honest reviews on websites like GlassDoor
  • Highlighting career development and paid apprenticeships, training opportunities, and mentorships, as well as potential career trajectories
  • Focusing on traditional benefits in addition to salary during the recruitment process, such as health insurance
  • Showcasing the exciting technology available to employees and any specialized roles you are looking to fill
  • Highlighting your company’s diversity and any social causes you are championing (your commitment to reducing your carbon footprint, a focus on sustainability, or any suicide prevention initiatives)
    • This should be shared during the recruiting phase, but also be a focus to retain Gen Z who are especially anxious about environmental problems (see more below)

How to retain Gen Z

Once you have found some Gen Z talent, it’s time to make sure you keep them. Even though this generation is looking for a company that promises longevity where they can put down roots, you still need to make it worth their while to stick around.

You can increase your Zoomer retention by:

  • Offering career advancement that is based on merit, such as meeting performance goals (versus longevity with the company), and transparency about how their growth will be achieved and supported
  • Proactively sharing company goals and making sure these are aligned with their own goals will make Gen Zers feel like they are making a positive impact within the organization
  • Fostering a culture that allows them to thrive and survive
  • Providing them with simultaneous opportunities to learn and grow so they don’t have to worry about missing out and are able to flex their strong multitasking skills
    • For example, letting them take on multiple roles at the same time, implementing rotational roles/cross training or exposing them to multiple roles through mentorship programs that shows the company as a whole
  • Giving them the ability to alter their own job description or customize their own career path
  • Committing to helping with societal and global problems/challenges (mentioned above)
    • Be sure to promote your philanthropic endeavors and any volunteer or fundraiser opportunities through your website, intranet, social media, and employee email
  • Continuing to adopt new and emerging technologies

In order to entice Generation Z to join the construction industry and help solve a shrinking workforce in need of skilled labor, it is imperative that you adapt your recruitment and retention best practices to attract the latest and greatest incoming talent.