Company Culture

RfH Insights: Creating a Workplace Where Gen Z Talent Thrives

February 23, 2023
March 8, 2024
Barbara Pierce
Lattice Team

Whether you’re ready for them or not, Gen Z employees are a quickly growing presence in the workplace. And by 2025, they’re expected to make up 27% of the global workforce. As employee demographics change, HR strategies need to evolve accordingly. 

Wondering what Gen Z workers value the most? Members of Lattice’s Resources for Humans community recently gathered to share best practices for creating a workplace where Gen Z talent can thrive. Read on for actionable insights from people leaders at Handshake, Mainstay, Stanford University, and Suzy. You can also listen to an on-demand recording of the RfH discussion here.

1. Emphasize the “why.”

Gen Z craves purpose throughout all parts of the employee experience, including initial interviews, onboarding, performance reviews, and all-hands meetings

“This generation is really looking for value,” explained Karina Macias Sandoval, talent acquisition project manager at Stanford University. From the moment they first consider applying to your company, Gen Z candidates want to know how they can leave their mark. 

For that reason, said Sandoval, it’s important to write job descriptions that highlight the impact employees will have within your organization and “give them the reason for the work that they're doing.” Let them know why their work will matter well before day one, so they can get excited about coming on board.

2. Prioritize transparency.

When it comes to job hunting, Gen Z is extremely careful about finding the right fit. “Gen Z wants to make an impact, and they want an alignment on their own personal values of where they're working and what they're doing,” emphasized Hetal Shah, director of recruiting at Handshake. 

Early in the hiring process, take time to learn what Gen Z job candidates want, including their compensation and career goals. This way, you can ensure your company meets those expectations — and pave the way for a positive employee experience.

I have [job] candidates who will let me know before they even take a call what their requirements are...If they're not met, no harm, no foul.

Just as much as Gen Z expects transparency in the hiring process, they also tend to offer it to potential employers, which can save everyone time. Sandoval has experienced that honesty firsthand. “I have [job] candidates who will let me know before they even take a call what their requirements are,” she said. “If they're not met, no harm, no foul — it's nothing personal, but this is not their cup of tea.”

3. Don’t keep Gen Z in the dark.

Members agreed that if there’s one thing Gen Z hates, it’s being kept in the dark. They want to know what’s going on, through the good times and the bad. 

Even in moments of uncertainty or economic downturn, companies can’t afford to hide the truth. When times are tough, Gen Z employees want to hear what’s going on behind closed doors and understand what may lie ahead. And when companies make mistakes, leaders need to own up — otherwise, Gen Z talent is likely to go elsewhere.

“It’s really powerful to be authentic and transparent, but the fact of the matter is this generation was born [with technology], so they're going to find out anyway. You look even worse if you're not being authentic,” said Anthony Onesto, chief people officer at Suzy. 

If [you're] being transparent about numbers...that's a building block to creating that environment where the employee can come and also be transparent about how they're feeling.

At Mainstay, insights manager Caroline Alexander has seen great value in openly communicating financial performance data with employees. “Our leadership shares our financials and indicates progress towards yearly goals, comparing us to other software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies and showing where we are,” she explained. “Beyond that, they take time in the meeting to educate us about what different metrics mean.”

“If their organization is being transparent about numbers...that's a building block to creating that environment where the employee can come and also be transparent about how they're feeling," she added.

4. Cultivate continuous career growth.

One of the best ways to retain Gen Z talent is by guiding their growth. “One of the things that Gen Z craves most is mentorship and support,” said Shah, “and they seek feedback frequently.” 

By developing tailored individual development plans, you can help Gen Z talent clearly visualize their career trajectory and feel fulfilled in their professional journey. Be sure to regularly check in with Gen Z employees through one-on-ones and performance reviews as well, highlighting where they’re succeeding and where there’s room for growth. 

“We have performance evaluations twice a year,” said Shah, “it's about telling employees where they stand and what it will take to get to the next level.” Doing so can fuel Gen Z’s fire — boosting engagement, increasing performance, and motivating them to meet new milestones at your company.

For more HR insights, join Resources for Humans, our 19,000+ person Slack community of people leaders, for helpful ideas, resources, and best practices.