By Allison Gordon
Gen Z doesn’t care about cake in the break room. The pizza party isn’t going to cut it.
Pool and spa small business owners looking to hire and retain new employees now have to contend with Generation Z, which will make up a staggering 30 percent of the workforce by 2030, according to Yahoo Finance.
These are the children of the dot com boom and the 2008 recession, practically born with a smart phone in their hand — they’re totally tech savvy.
This is a generation who cut its teeth on “MeToo,” and social justice for women, the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and marriage equality. Many of them came of age rallying for the right of open gender expression.
This is a generation that completed high school or college on Zoom, their social and academic lives abruptly canceled by the pandemic.
And this is the generation now looking for work, the generation that regardless of their values, you now need to hire.
So what do they want? The pool and spa industry has long struggled with how to attract and retain employees. The millennials were a challenge, and now we have Gen Z, which like every generation that came before, has its own set of values and priorities about what to expect in the workplace.
Understanding your employee’s needs and expectations remains a crucial part of reducing turnover and increasing morale.
According to a recent Service Industry News survey, Gen Z prioritizes competitive wages, job security, mental health support, and diversity.
Due to the generation’s “always online” culture, social attitudes are a scroll away: With so much access to information, opinions and expectations change rapidly. The good old boy network is out. Sexist jokes and toxic masculinity is, for the most part, out.
Within the last 20 years, these young people witnessed radical changes in gender/identity politics as well as international discussions of race and inclusion. For Gen Z, it is not only desired but expected for an employer to champion a diversified workforce.
According to Noah Gagliano, a lead landscape gardener and member of the Gen Z workforce, “Diversity would be a deciding factor in accepting a position. I think seeing people different from me is necessary to build a broad view of the company’s values.”
If you’re looking to recruit members of this generation, creating an environment that reflects the world around us is a good place to start.
While health care is a heavily sought-after benefit, mental health is a priority that often slips through the cracks.
According to a study conducted by Harmony Health Care, “42% of Gen Z has a diagnosed mental health condition.” Following the pandemic, this number is expected to grow. Generation Z is aware that they face mental health challenges, and they are looking to the working world for help.
Madeline Geil, a 25-year-old, member services coordinator for the Portland Timbers professional soccer team, said, “Mental health support for me means flexibility and open communication with employers. It should be a part of the conversation — for instance, supervisors and management making it a valued part of workplace culture. I want my supervisor to care.”
Revising the taboo nature of mental health conversations can begin with employers, and if you want to hang on to the 20-somethings of the workforce, it should. When looking into a health plan for your employees, check to see that therapy is covered. The Zoomer generation counts on their mental well-being to be as valued as their general safety.
Gen Zers are on track to become the most educated generation in history. However, with great education comes big loans.
According to our survey, competitive pay ranked as one of the most important qualities in a job search, with 70% of Gen Z surveyed describing it as very important to extremely important.
Everyone likes to make money, but this generation is entering the workforce with an average of $16,043 of student loan debt, according to a 2021 CNBC article and is eager to free themselves.
Hannah Lee, a recent graduate of California State University, Humboldt, said, “As a young employee, I’m trying to grow and do as many resume-building activities as I can so I can have a secure job in the next few years.”
Hannah, and others in her generation, witnessed monumental economic swings following 9/11, the 2008 recession, and the recent pandemic. Now, they are looking for a little security, and they are hoping to find it in employment.
Their lives have been marked by change, and Gen Z is looking to the workplace for a steady hand. They are not only counting on their bosses to show them the ropes, but to be an asset in career advancement. The Zoomer generation is counting on their employers to provide an environment of support, open communication, and fair wages.
While break room snacks are appreciated, they think there’s a whole lot more you can offer. Gen Z is looking for more than a paycheck.
Allison Gordon writes from experience as a Gen Z’er herself. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and works in education.
For more tips on working with the Gen Z workforce, write to [email protected] and we will put you in-touch with Ms. Gordon.