Attracting Gen Z

Is safety the new benefit of choice for Generation Z? Richard Stockley discusses ways to engage this vital group

It’s no secret that holding on to young talent is becoming increasingly difficult. Many businesses are feeling the pressure. Job vacancies continue to rise whilst progress towards upskilling existing workforces remains slower than industry demand. As a result, employers are finding alternative ways to retain talent. With Gen Z employees expected to make up 27% of the global workforce by 2025, a key focus has been set by organisations to attract and retain this rising generation of workers. The challenge, of course, is doing so.

With rising costs, the most obvious retention tactic is undoubtedly pay rises. Gen Zs are acutely aware of what they’re worth and highly motivated by salary increases to best improve their financial stability during the cost of living crisis. In fact, Gen Zs are the most likely generation to take on a second job or work increased hours to keep up with inflation. Pay rises offer employees an easy financial incentive, whilst demonstrating to the employee that their service is both acknowledged and valued, during this economic downswing, pay rises aren’t always possible. Not only that, but a pay rise is only a temporary retention tactic, effective until the employee receives another job offer with more money. So, beyond salary, what else can companies use to attract and retain Gen Z talent?

Resonating with Gen Z values

Gen Z employees have grown up in a world of instant information and connectivity. As a result, they are more aware of potential dangers in and outside of the workplace. Mental health, for example, is a top priority to Gen Z workers, who have a great understanding of the risks associated with a poor work-life balance. However, with increasing pressure to keep up with the cost of living, Gen Z employees are feeling the impact more than any other generation. In fact, according to Cigna International Health’s 2023 survey of almost 12,000 workers around the world, 91% of employees aged between 18-24 years old report being stressed, compared to the average of 84%.

To truly engage with Gen Z employees, organisations must demonstrate a holistic commitment to safety

With this in mind, creating a safe working environment can be a critical consideration for those businesses looking to better attract a younger workforce. This extends beyond concern for physical safety, which we already know is paramount to any business, but the safety of employees’ mental health and emotional wellbeing. So, to truly engage with Gen Z employees, organisations must demonstrate a holistic commitment to safety. This includes:

1. Physical Safety: traditional health and safety measures remain essential. Regular safety audits, proper equipment maintenance including working from home set-ups, and comprehensive emergency response plans are critical for Gen Z employees, who value a workplace where their physical wellbeing is a top priority.

2. Mental and Emotional Safety: Gen Z places immense importance on mental health and emotional wellbeing. Organisations must create an environment where open discussions about mental health are encouraged, stigma is reduced, and access to resources such as counselling is readily available.

3. Inclusivity and Diversity: a safe and supportive workplace celebrates diversity and promotes inclusivity. Gen Z employees value workplaces where they can bring their authentic selves to work without fear of discrimination or bias.

These considerations are highly valued by Gen Z employees and demonstrates the business’ support of their physical and mental wellbeing, which can be so crucial in keeping younger talent. In fact, a study by Deloitte found that 77% of Gen Z employees think it’s important to work at an organisation whose values align with their own. So, how can a business better improve the safety of its employees?

Implementing effective training

The best place to start when looking to establish a firm culture of safety is with training. This can be delivered in a variety of methods, including classroom-based, online, and live online learning. But why start at training?

Employee health and safety training can enable employees with the knowledge and skills to identify and mitigate potential risks. This can mean both in the physical sense, reducing the likelihood of injuries and accidents, and in the non-physical sense, safeguarding employees from the symptoms of poor mental health.

Training can also have additional benefits, such as improving employee confidence and creating a sense of accomplishment, both of which will also help towards improving employee retention.

Holistic safety considerations

As an employer, it’s equally important that fostering a culture of safety is truly embedded and goes beyond critical training. If an employee, particularly those that are Gen Z, truly feel as if their employer cares for their wellbeing, they will be much more likely to stay. So, consider some alternative methods of establishing a culture of safety. This could vary from weekly CPDs discussing safety that is tailored to your company to paying for mental health programmes, such as Balance.

A generation of safety?

There’s no doubt that Gen Z will play a pivotal role in the coming decades. Employers must take into account the priorities of such a large, up and coming section of the global and UK workforce to reap the benefits that they can offer. Considerations such as safety and wellbeing training, therefore, will be crucial in helping to attract and retain the best Gen Z talent. Employers that fail to recognise and adapt their business will not only risk poor workplace safety, but also lose out in the fight for future talent.

Richard Stockley is managing director at RRC International

Richard Stockley

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