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5 ways to engage and retain members of Generation Z

generation z

While you’re always juggling a lot of balls in the air as you work in HR, two things you should always make time for are employee retention and productivity. These values are essential to running a business – you can’t survive without staff members who are highly engaged, willing to work hard and planning to stick around for a while. If you don’t have this, nothing else matters.

The challenge is it can be difficult to engage all of your employees at once. Consider, for instance, the difficulties posed by generational gaps. What if you have boomers, Gen X and Gen Y members all under the same roof? Will the same engagement strategies work for everyone?

This question has always been tough, and now it’s about to get even tougher. Here’s why – Generation Z is about to enter the workforce, giving us a fourth generation to work with. Kelly Allder, vice president of HR programs at Ceridian Canada, was recently quoted in a Benefits Canada Magazine feature about this very problem. She addressed the major looming issue – the fact that for this new generation, ubiquitous technology and constant convenience are integral to how they interact with their world. How do we cater to these sensibilities?

Statistics Canada estimates that the “Internet generation” includes individuals born between 1993 and 2011. Others peg the start of this time period closer to 1990, or 1995. In any event, it consists of people who grew up with the Web (and in many cases cellphones as well) and expect convenience in everything they do. Research from Bruce Tulgan, founder of U.S. management and training company Rainmaker Thinking, estimates that these young individuals will make up more than 20 percent of the workforce by 2020.

So how do we accommodate these workers? How do we engage them? Here are five strategies to keep in mind.

Make everything digital
Gen Z employees have little patience for paper-and-pencil methods of tracking time and attendance, or completing important work tasks. They expect everything to be digital, so plan accordingly.

Cater benefits to their needs
Benefits are an important part of employee retention – but think, what benefits would a 23-year-old want? Retirement saving or health care for dependents might not be on their radar. They might prefer benefits geared more toward self-improvement, such as a gym membership.

Let them express their opinions
Today’s young people have had no trouble making their voices heard – after all, they’re texting and sending out messages via social media every day. They probably want to share their opinions in the office as well – so let them! A little listening can go a long way.

Help them develop their skills
Employees who are still young and inexperienced probably have a lot of interest in developing their job skills and advancing on the corporate ladder. Give them opportunities, and they’ll appreciate you for it.

Offer jobs with flexibility
As work and technology keep evolving, flexible work is becoming a bigger priority. People want the freedom to work wherever and whenever they choose. Offering flexibility might be a key strategy for retaining your young employees in the year ahead.

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