SMEs and the Talent Battle: Attracting and Retaining Gen Zs

The latest generation of talent, Gen Zs, also known as the Snapchat generation, are starting to march into the workforce. Here’s how Singapore SMEs can best attract and retain them.

Move over, millennials! By 2020, it’s said that 20 percent of the workforce will be made up of Gen Zs (those born between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s). Often referred to as true digital natives because they have grown up hand in hand with the internet, social media and mobile devices, Gen Zs are technologically advanced and used to immediacy when it comes to interactions. Like millennials, they care more about social issues in the workplace than their predecessors and, according to some studies, have a short attention span, especially when using digital platforms: Eight seconds to be exact. 

So, what can Singapore SMEs do to recruit and retain this next generation of workers? Ms Sheree Hsu, Talent Acquisition Manager, Asia, from Michael Page International sheds some light on how Gen Zs fit into the world of work, and why SMEs need to be on point in order to appeal to the latest arrivals to the workforce.

Ditch those Long Job Ads

You only have about eight seconds on digital platforms (including job portals) to convince Gen Zs of your job and its value. So a long job ad is not going to cut it. “In a tight job market space, job descriptions that are clear, punchy and to the point can help grab their attention,” notes Ms Hsu.

She also advises employers to ensure your job ads and company website are mobile-friendly as that can help potential Gen Z job candidates to be more engaged; they can access these when it suits them. Furthermore, you should reach out to them on their terms — via punchy recruitment ads on social media channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook. The inclusion of short company blogs contributed by your staff and videos on your company website can also help entice Gen Zs with glimpses of the culture and benefits in your workplace. 

Read Also: What to Avoid When Writing Job Descriptions

Give Them Room for Flexibility

“Flexibility is the key to this age group’s efficiency,” says Ms Hsu. They are used to doing their work when plugged in and even on the move. SMEs that embrace flexible work spaces such as break out areas rather than fixed desks and flexible hours such as working from home on certain days can help foster the creativity of many Gen Zs who work well within cross-functional teams. 

By allowing interactions outside departmental boundaries, you can help your Gen Z employees and ultimately your company to promote a good company reputation and build a vibrant community.

Don’t Sugar-coat Issues and Be Honest 

In order to both attract and keep your Generation Z employee for a longer period, Ms Hsu advises employers to be upfront with Gen Z employees from the beginning. “This includes ensuring they know exactly what the job entails from the start, what type of progress is expected and even when a promotion can be expected (for example, stressing that based on their experience, this won’t be happening in six months or even a year),” she elaborates.

Engage your Gen Z employees regularly by having quick individual 15 minute catch-ups every two weeks — or at least a monthly check-in — to ensure you’re both on the same page. These sessions also enable you to answer or address any questions or concerns. 

Stave Off Boredom

Gen Zs welcome challenges and excitement in their work. This is because they embrace growth, for both their benefit as well as for the company they work for. Elaborating on this, Ms Hsu says, “Harness this by motivating your Gen Z employees — share your department and company’s visions and goals, and set milestones to be achieved. Don’t forget to also share your project expectations and timelines. Finally, do provide specific and timely feedback, but keep this constructive and positive.”

Align with Their Personal Purpose and Likes

“Like millennials, Gen Zs value the idea of having a purpose,” observes Ms Hsu. Tap into this and watch your Gen Z employees grow and shine. “Do this by aligning the mission of your SME to their personal drive, technology talent (they are the generation of Snapchat and WhatsApp after all) and likes, as well as their knowledge of brand awareness,” she suggests. She also notes that while they are tech-savvy, Gen Zs are also often invested in living their life to the fullest. It’s therefore important to reach out to them with regular engagement, such as through fun team-building and company events or monthly employee get-togethers with games.

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