How the F: Do You Engage With Gen Z?August 4, 2022
It’s a common question amongst our clients as well as ourselves when we’re hiring out of this demographic. Our director of talent Alana Christou was asked to put thoughts together for an article published here, where she and other professionals shared their advice for engaging with GenZ. In addition to what was contributed to cswire.com’s article, Alana’s full response is seen below.
What is/are the most important thing(s) for brands to convey to GenZ?
The values of the company are extremely important. Being in business without some kind of larger positive purpose is usually a no-go with GenZ. Whatever your brand, the best way to connect with them is by focusing on how you are making a positive impact, giving back, or working towards a larger, positive goal. This could be external, such as community service efforts or charitable contributions, or internal with a robust professional development focus.
Whenever possible, make it clear why and how your business/brand is what it is today, and where you are going. The more quickly GenZ can find a point or points of connection with your brand, the better. And they’ll expect things to be moving forward, not stagnant. Much like the expectations of personal development and growth GenZ has for themselves as an employee in the workplace, they are likely to expect that same growth and development from a brand. Innovation, creativity, and self-expression are really important.
What is the biggest value a brand can have to succeed with GenZ?
I think transparency is the biggest value that can help brands succeed with GenZ.
Fast access to information is something that GenZ is really used to – it’s rare that they can’t search for and find an answer to a question. The internet has been a constant for them in life, and because answers are constantly at their fingertips, waiting for answers isn’t the norm. That means holes in information, incomplete or confusing messaging, a lack of company vision or values, lengthy support wait times…those can all be major turnoffs. This is true for both GenZ consumers and GenZ employees.
What role does social media play in GenZ engagement?
Well, for starters, a lack of social media presence is a red flag for GenZ. A brand without a social media/digital footprint presence raises questions. Thanks to TikTok, Instagram, etc., GenZ has had a window into the personal, behind-the-scenes details, thoughts, and opinions of friends, family members, and complete strangers in a way that no other generation has. And their expectations for brands are largely the same. You have to be willing to give them a deeper look into your brand and show them what makes your identity unique to best connect with them. Here are a few questions social media can answer:
- How/where is this product/service made/provided?
- Will my unique identity be welcomed as a consumer?
- Who else supports this brand? Why?
- Why do they have this product/service?
- What’s it like to work at this brand and be an actual part of it day-to-day?
- Are their employees happy? Do their employees believe in the brand?
Make sure to develop and explain FAQs thoroughly, provide timely and thorough support, and don’t skimp on help documentation. And remember that all of those touch points are opportunities for you to reinforce the identity of your brand.
What insights do you have for companies looking to hire and retain GenZ employees?
Gone are the days of cubicle farm offices where everyone is heads down working independently or wondering what’s happening in mysterious closed-door meetings. Physical office space is much more open, with open desk areas and glass walls being much more of the norm. There is literal transparency in the workplace that allows employees to see and hear much more about their place of employment than they used to. And a wide variety of communication tools like Slack make it so much easier for information to be available and questions to be answered. Most companies don’t even have desk phones anymore…and I don’t think GenZ misses them. That said, GenZ tends to shy away from more traditional workplace communication channels like phone calls, so it’s important to be clear about what the expectations are related to workplace communication.
GenZ employees will be looking for consistent direct mentorship and guidance, but also the ability to learn indirectly from the environment around them. Ensuring managers of GenZ employees provide them enough support – including taking an interest in the person beyond the work – is so important.
What is/are the most important thing(s) for employers to convey to GenZ?
GenZ isn’t entering the workforce expecting an 8-5 desk job, nor to keep their personal self completely separated from their professional one. Employees will be looking for many of the same standard things such as a thorough handbook and a clear picture of the company’s structure and responsibilities. But they’ll also expect to understand the “why” behind their work, a picture of what their personal success looks like, and how it contributes to the company’s mission and larger picture of success. They’ll also be looking for programs that support them personally, such as volunteer days, ample paid time off, flexible working location/hours, and even mental health programs. The programs and benefits you offer convey how thoroughly you take into account the whole self of a GenZ employee, which they’ll want to bring to work.
GenZ employees also aren’t as likely to let confusion about company processes or decisions slide. Don’t assume that because your leadership team understands company decisions or processes, that will be enough for the rest of the employees. Overcommunicate and make sure you tailor your messages to be accessible to GenZ interns in the same way as they are to your managers. And make sure to repeat key brand identity messages – like your vision, mission, and values – frequently.