How to Hire Gen Z

If you’re not sure what Gen Z wants out of an employer, just ask—this generation is not afraid to speak their mind.

November 01, 2021

Youth Laughing on Computers

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Generation Z is not afraid to ask for what they want, and that boldness isn’t limited to their personal lives—in an interview, young people will ask for flexible work hours, ample time off for their mental health, and they’ll ask you to pay them more without batting an eye, according to the New York Times.

It’s natural for older generations to gripe about the younger generations, dating back to Greek philosophers. But there is new boldness in the way Gen Z dictates the way of the workforce, says the New York Times.

It wasn’t long ago that news articles, consultants and columns spewed advice on how to work with millennials. A “60 Minutes” segment in 2007 said that “these young people tell you what time their yoga class is,” during a segment in 2007 called “The ‘Millennials’ Are Coming.” The boomer and Gen X generations were taught to punch the clock, work hard and pay their dues, and while millennials’ work mentality differed, it was still centralized around a physical (but sometimes remote) office with the addition of ping-pong tables and nap pods. Now, Gen Zers can make a living posting on social media whenever and wherever they want, coupling that with a few hours delivering for DoorDash or driving for Uber.

According to the New York Times, the time when the generation enters the workforce shapes their mentality toward it and their overall work ethic. Many millennials entered the labor market during the Great Recession when scoring any job was success; therefore, “hustling” is a common mentality with this generation. Looking to Gen Z, they are entering the workforce during a time when the entire foundation of how and when business is conducted is completely reshaping. The pandemic upended the hours, places and ways people are able to work. Recruitment software company RippleMatch surveyed Gen Z job candidates in fall 2021 and more than two-thirds wanted jobs that will indefinitely stay remote.

Of course, there are jobs that cannot be completed remotely, such as positions at convenience stores. However, a common demand of the younger generation is job flexibility, which c-stores retailers can offer to recruit and maintain their labor force. Target recently began offering flexible hours for hourly store employees through a scheduling app that allows employees to swap shifts with other workers. Target says hourly employees are already working 15% more hours on average than they were a year ago, and store leaders will communicate with employees regularly on their schedules to understand their preferences and offer more hours if workers want them.

Another way to entice the younger generation is to offer more pay along with those flexible hours. Costco and Starbucks recently raised their minimum wages to attract job candidates. Costco raised its starting wage for hourly store workers in the U.S. from $16 an hour to $17. Starbucks also announced it will raise wages at least twice next year, which would bring its starting pay to $15 an hour by next summer and its average pay to $17.

NACS Magazine recently dived into how to hire Gen Z in the article “Are You Ready for a Gen Z Workforce?” in the September 2021 issue. NACS also hosted a two-part webinar series “Finding and Hiring Employees in a Post-Pandemic Economy.”

Additionally, NACS offers The Good Jobs Strategy, which is a combination of investment in people and smart operating choices, increases employee productivity, motivation and contribution and promotes operational excellence. Case studies show that implementing the Good Jobs Strategy can grow a business and increase customer loyalty.

Retailers can access the Good Jobs Calculator, designed exclusively for NACS and the convenience industry. This tool allows retailers to use their own data and customized assumptions about the amount of improvement or uplift achievable, and executives can run scenarios on the bottom-line impact of a Good Jobs system.