04 September 2018

Winning the war for Gen Z talent: How SMES can attract the best graduates

With 37% of students and graduates1 who planned on starting a new job or career within 12 months, saying they hoped to work for an SME - now is the time to attract the best talent, or risk missing out, according to The Health Insurance Group.

Many graduates will be on the hunt for their first role in September, once they find out their exam results over summer, and SMEs are in prime position to pick from the best from Generation Z (born around 1995 to 2004). But how can SMEs attract the freshest talent to enter the workforce? What motivates Gen Z and what benefits do they want from an employer?

Saving money

Economic uncertainty, witnessing a recession and near tripling of university tuition fees has been the landscape for Gen Z over the past decade. This set of circumstances has made them particularly thrifty as a result, so any money-saving benefits SMEs can offer will appeal to them. Providing discounted gym membership, shopping vouchers, cash plans that give money off things like dentistry, can all help to make their salary go further.

SMEs should clearly highlight what money-saving benefits they offer during the recruitment stage and ensure they keep on communicating what perks are available to them once hired too. Reminding employees near Christmas, for example, to maximise shopping vouchers and make savings on buying presents can give them the nudge they need to utilise the benefits on offer. Communicating such messages, via internal newsletters for example, demonstrates further why it is a great place to work – aiding retention.   

Technologically inclined

A technologically savvy generation, the true digital natives, Gen Z grew up with mobile phones in their hands and they want to see what organisations can offer. SMEs need to make an impact quickly to attract the best of Gen Z too, as research finds they have an eight second attention span when using digital platforms.2 Having clear and punchy online portals provide a great way of displaying all the benefits available to employees, whilst making it mobile friendly means information can be accessed when it suits the individual, keeping them engaged in the process.

Discounted health trackers and fitness wearables can be a great way to encourage the tech-savvy health conscious gen Z to keep fit, either competing with others for motivation or simply keeping track of their own progress. Some benefit schemes can even offer rewards, which can tap into the Gen Z money-saving mentality.

Health focused

Gen Z is a health-conscious group, smoking and drinking on average 43% and 33% respectively less than their Gen X counterparts.3 They also take a keen interest in what they are eating, and understanding in how food has been sourced, more than any other generation.4 SMEs can tap into this health-conscious generation by offering a holistic array of benefits such as nutrition talks, corporate sports days, workplace health checks, smoking-cessation programmes and so on, in order to feed their ongoing desire to be healthy. Highlighting these benefits clearly, up front, in the recruitment process can be a real draw to Gen Z.

With under-19s seeking treatment for mental health issues, more so than any previous generation on record5, it’s important that benefits packages include support here as well. A two-pronged approach, utilising employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and mental health training can help. EAPs can provide support if employees feel they need support, by accessing tailored and confidential counselling, and mental health training can teach managers how to identify when there is a concern – giving them the knowledge and tools needed to signpost employees to additional support available.

SMEs are renowned for being more supportive places to work, and highlighting such benefits available to employees can act as a great attraction and retention tool. It’s important to explain benefits clearly too, as for some in Gen Z it may be their first full-time role and they may not have a comprehensive understanding of what employee benefits are and how they work. Providing clear examples can make or break their decision to accept a role or not.

Brett Hill, managing director, The Health Insurance Group said: “If SMEs want to attract the next generation of talent, they should make sure they bring all the benefits this age group values to the fore when recruiting and clearly showcase why it is a great place to work. Just like every generation, the latest tranche of graduates enters the workforce with their own set of values and ideals about what they want from work in the future. Continuing to communicate benefits in new and interesting ways, not only helps to retain Gen Z as a workforce – but all ages that work within the business too.”

References 

1. https://www.prospects.ac.uk/prospects-press-office/more-than-a-third-of-students-and-graduates-are-looking-to-start-work-in-smes 

2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/deeppatel/2017/11/27/5-differences-between-marketing-to-millennials-vs-gen-z 

3. http://www.cityam.com/262148/thought-millennials-went-crazy-avocados-meet-generation-z 

4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecarter/2017/10/29/the-business-of-feeding-health-conscious-gen-z-and-alpha-children/ 

5. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/12/sharp-rise-in-under-19s-being-treated-by-nhs-mental-health-services