As you consider your open entry-level positions, whether on the floor or in the office, it’s important to keep in mind that we’ve officially moved into a new generation—the oldest members of Generation Z are now in their early 20s and represent the next crop of young hires.
Just as Gen X wanted different things from a job than Baby Boomers, Gen Z is unique from those before it. Here are attributes companies should consider to ensure they’re remaining attractive to potential job seekers.
1. Up the appeal: Unfortunately, lumber and construction aren’t always the first industries young people think about when planning their dream careers. This is particularly true with office roles, such as marketing or IT. But as those of us in the business know, LBM is a wonderful industry to be a part of—full of opportunities, close-knit teams, and pride of work. When advertising open positions, it’s important to market the advantages of the industry as much as the appeal of your company and its benefits package.
2. Ensure opportunities for growth: Gen Z is looking to try new things, implement new ideas, and help the company grow to the betterment of both, and that means mobility either upward or even laterally toward new opportunities. Having only one path to growth can feel stifling, notes Loryn Dudley, Gen Z daughter of LBM industry veteran Thea Dudley, so make sure you’re open to new approaches. Often, Gen Z team members will leave not because of pay but because they’re tired of waiting around for an opportunity to move up or because management is inflexible to new ideas.
3. Provide recognition and feedback: At the same time, they expect, as they should, recognition for their work. “If I’m putting in the effort, I do expect to see recognition,” says Dudley. “It doesn’t have to be monetary or even with a jump in title—and certainly not hand-holding—but just recognizing that someone did a good job is nice.”
4. Consider their passions: Gen Z is appearing to be very driven, motivated by their passions and activism. Ensure your company gives them the space and freedom to pursue those interests, whether it be giving the day off to vote, offering benefits for volunteering, or sharing their artwork on the walls.
5. Nurture a welcoming culture: Many in Gen Z will stay at companies where they feel appreciated and valued, and where they have an opportunity for growth. Feeling supported by, and valued by, leadership and fellow team members is crucial. They don’t need to be coddled—but they do want to feel valued.
6. Demonstrate security: Payscale.com notes that Gen Z came of age in the Great Recession, many seeing their parents struggle with unemployment or other financial issues; therefore, they value job security, and you’ll want to communicate the company’s vision for its future.
7. Increased flexibility: Like other generations, work/life balance will be important. As the pandemic has shown, many employees can be just as productive (and often more productive) working from home or during off hours and that employees can be trusted to get the work done when and how it makes sense.
8. Embrace technology: Generation Z literally has never known life without Internet, and the first iPhone came out before they were teenagers. If your company has antiquated, paper- based systems for tasks where digital options are more practical and efficient, the time to up- date is now. This starts with your job advertising and application process; if you’re only advertising in the newspaper classifieds and only accept in-person resumes, what does that tell applicants about the rest of your IT portfolio?
Generation Z is engaged, motivated, and driven. Creating an environment that’s welcoming to their needs—and leveraging that to attract applicants—will pay off in the long run via hard work and innovation.
Rikka Brandon is the leading recruiting and retention expert for the LBM industry. She’s the CEO of BuildingGurus.com and founder of RecruitRetainRock.com where she helps building products business owners and leaders solve their recruiting and retention challenges with strategy, best practices, and access to experts.