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Understand Gen Z talent to attract and retain them, report shows

Trish Embley tells HRNews about attracting and retaining Generation Z talent

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  • Transcript

    Generation Z and millennials want a better work/life balance, are values-driven and are concerned about the environment. They want employers who can help empower them to make a difference. Businesses that actively listen and help address their needs and concerns will attract and retain this talent pool. Those are the key findings of new research published by Deloitte – their Gen Z and Millennial Survey 2023.

    Now in its 12th year, the survey gathers insights from more than 22,000 Gen Z and millennial respondents across 44 countries, exploring how the disruptive events of the last three years have shaped the lives and view of Gen Z and millennials. It looks at the progress these generations feel their employers have made, where there is still work to do, and where potential setbacks may occur. It also explores how Gen Zs and millennials continue to make lifestyle and career decisions based on their values. All highly relevant to businesses wanting to attract and retain this important talent pool. 

    On that point they say: ‘Employers can—and must—act’ and quote Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer. She says: “Gen Zs and millennials are facing a unique combination of challenges during a pivotal point in their lives as they progress in their careers, grow their families, and care for loved ones. It is crucial for employers to understand these generations and continue to drive progress on the challenges that matter most to them. This will not only help boost productivity and retain talent—it will ultimately build trust and value for business in society more broadly.”

    We agree with that, and it closely matches what our clients have been telling us. Head of Client Training Trish Embley has been getting feedback from them on this subject and she joined me by video-link from Birmingham to discuss it:

    Trish Embley: “Well, we've been talking to a lot of clients about their priorities this year and one message that's coming through loud and clear is that the priority is the hugely competitive race for talent, recruiting and retaining staff to close the skills gap. Therefore, it's really important that employers are aware of what initiatives they need to employ to recruit the younger talent, the graduates, or the Generation Zs. So I think, formerly, there was a lot of investment put into things like really making the workplace fun for the younger generation, ping pong tables, on-site yoga studios, video game arcades, and whilst that's still important, to a degree, because I think those perks are useful in getting people back to the office for those of us who are doing remote and hybrid working, I think what we're seeing coming out of studies is that generation Zs have other priorities and it's really important that employers know what those priorities are, and train their managers to be able to meet those needs.”

    Joe Glavina: “Tell me about that training, Trish. What are the skills managers need to have?”

    Trish Embley: “Well, I've been working closely with our clients for many, many years on management training and what clients tell us is that often a manager can be promoted into that role because they are technically very good at their job. So, you know, they are really good at the technical areas. However, where there can sometimes be a little bit of lack of investment is in developing that individual’s people management skills. Now, that brings us back to what the under 35s want and the research tends to show is that they want to feel valued as individuals, and they want respect from their managers, they want to be treated with respect. So really, what we're saying is it's great having all this investment in infrastructure but, really, if you want to recruit and retain younger talent, it's looking at how your managers communicate with those younger workers and, of course, this will be to the benefit of all workers. 
    Now, post-pandemic, where we are doing more home working and hybrid working, this is even more of a challenge for managers - how do you communicate effectively with people who are not necessarily sitting next to you? How do you engage? Again, what the research shows is that people want to be treated with respect and they want to have effective communication and also managers having an awareness of how you can nurture the younger workers, nurture their well-being, which might for some be a little bit of a cultural shift. It's all about doing the job, it’s all about people being commodities, and it's really bringing that human element back and that is an area where we work very well in our training with actors who have the skills in communication techniques, how you deliver messages, how you communicate effectively with people, whether they be sitting next to you in the office, or whether they be remotely at home.”

    Joe Glavina: “Any particular message for HR, Trish?” 

    Trish Embley: “Yes, I just think it comes back to the point about the support your managers need because this must be challenging for them. I've heard many managers say that, you know, different generations, they find it tricky, they don't necessarily understand the younger generation and I think the more I've looked into it the more I realise that our values are probably all the same. People want to work hard, they want to feel valued in their work, it’s just maybe the way people express it that's slightly different between the generations and a lot of the things I'm talking about, developing people management skills, adopting a better more proactive approach to things like flexible working or different ways of working, it’s going to benefit everyone and, at the end of the day, it’s really what everybody would like and, perhaps, it's just that we're seeing that cultural shift with younger workers. vocalising it a little bit more.”

    That Deloitte report is their Global 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey. If you’d like to read it, you can – we’ve put a link to it in the transcript of this programme. 

    - Link to Deloitte’s Gen Z and Millennial Survey 2023

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