Organisations are unnecessarily spending millions of dollars in changing their recruitment approach for Gen Z workers, according to CEB (now Gartner), which said business would be better off focusing on a more holistic approach to workforce planning and talent acquisition.

“Organisations around the world have spent thousands, if not millions, of dollars adapting their recruitment processes and workforce cultures in a bid to appeal to what they believed were the unique employment preferences of millennials,” said Aaron McEwan, HR advisory leader, CEB (now Gartner).

“The truth is, there are more in-group differences among Millennials as a whole generation than there are between millennials and baby boomers.”

With the first wave of Gen Z graduating from universities and about to enter the workforce, CEB, said organisations that want to attract Gen Z workers should review their resources and gimmicks before starting the hiring process.

That this should be front of mind for employers on the lookout for Gen Z workers, McEwan added.

“While the work already done by organisations to appeal to a younger workforce has worked in their favour, the long-term goal should be to have a recruitment process in place that caters to the requirements of all current and future generations,” he said.

“The traditional hiring process is cumbersome for everybody involved, not just those from a particular generation”

Organisations should concentrate on workforce planning methods and the people and skills that will drive the workforce of the future, he explained.

“Let me first say, this is not about generations at all,” said McEwan.

“The traditional hiring process is cumbersome for everybody involved, not just those from a particular generation.

“Recruiters have to sort through three times the number of applications they did just a few years ago and it takes them 26 days longer to make a hire than it did in 2010.”

Despite this, McEwan said here has been no real improvement in quality of hire.

“Candidates (regardless of age or generation) have their own challenges with the process – putting forth all of their effort upfront with limited knowledge of the day-to-day requirements of the position; not hearing back from an employer after submitting an application – which results in a negative recruitment experience,” he said.

“These experiences cost brands more than just great talent; they can directly impact the bottom line, since one-in-five candidates who report a negative recruiting experience stop using or purchasing products from that brand.”

McEwan said there is simply no evidence to suggest that Gen Z are looking for a different experience than any other generation.

Regardless of the stage of the hiring process – finding a job, being assessed for a job, or being interviewed for a job – he said Gen Z candidates are looking to engage with employers the same way as older generations.

“There is no evidence to support the commonly held belief that younger workers (Gen Z and Gen Y) prefer gimmicky selection methods that involve gamification”

More specifically, he noted that candidates in all generations use the same top three sources to find job opportunities: job boards, company websites, and family/friends.

Furthermore, candidates from Gen Z show similar levels of preference regarding the type of assessments they want to experience in the hiring process: personality test (67.7 per cent Gen Z vs 61.9 per cent other); work samples (45.8 per cent Gen Z vs 50.4 per cent other), and job knowledge tests (53.7 per cent Gen Z vs 59.2 per cent other).

“There is no evidence to support the commonly held belief that younger workers (Gen Z and Gen Y) prefer gimmicky selection methods that involve gamification,” he said.

In fact, he said candidates in all generations prefer to interview in person rather than conducting those interviews virtually (such as via phone or video).

In the war for talent, McEwan explained that the organisations that win will be those that are able to shorten time-to-hire and improve candidate quality while simultaneously providing a great experience for candidates.

“The most effective approaches to talent acquisition don’t see the hiring process as a series of transactions with candidates, but rather as a set of experiences that result in two-way relationships with top talent,” he said.

“Candidates who do become employees after a positive recruiting experience exert 15 per cent more discretionary effort and are 38 per cent more likely to stay with the organisation”

“They build relationships characterised by respect and transparency, and treat candidates as whole persons with the same needs as their employees and customers.”

In this regard, McEwan said Gen Z candidates are no different than other candidates.

Specifically, he said they want employers who equip them with the information they need to navigate the hiring process and make decisions, for example, the types of interviews they will experience, how long each step in the interview process will take, and background information on the people conducting their interview.

Furthermore, by putting assessment at the front-end of the hiring process and inviting candidates to determine if their interests and skills are aligned to the position, unqualified and uninterested candidates can opt-out, mitigating potential damage to the employer’s brand.

“Moreover, candidates who do become employees after a positive recruiting experience exert 15 per cent more discretionary effort and are 38 per cent more likely to stay with the organisation,” he said.

They also want employers that provide employee value propositions that emphasise: rewards (compensation, benefits etc), good work (for example, job/interest alignment, work/life balance) and opportunity (such as career progression and developmental opportunities).

Most important components of their desired employee value proposition (out of 100 per cent) for Gen Z who want rewards (35 per cent), work (31 per cent), opportunity (23 per cent) vs other generations who want rewards (36 per cent), work (34 per cent) and opportunity (19 per cent).

“Fewer than three in 10 HR executives are effective at planning for and staffing the talent needed to execute strategy”

Strategic workforce planning is vital for organisations to compete in today’s increasingly global and complex talent landscape. according to McEwan, who said that even the very best strategic plan will not succeed if there aren’t talented people to support and execute it.

“Unfortunately, fewer than three in 10 HR executives are effective at planning for and staffing the talent needed to execute strategy,” he said.

“Effective strategic workforce planning involves following a consistent process to identify and respond to strategic talent gaps as determined by business strategy.

“Planning for and staffing the talent needed to execute strategy is mission critical for HR.

“Failing to address the talent needs most critical to the organisation’s long-term strategy puts growth at risk.”

An effective strategic workforce plan will be:

  • Strategy driven: strategic workforce planning is driven by long-term strategic talent needs, not near-term staffing needs.
  • Sensitive to supply: Strategic workforce planning goes beyond identifying short-term staffing gaps to surfacing organisational and labour market risks to strategy execution.
  • Not merely a sourcing response: Strategic workforce plans don’t just provide short-term, reactive, recruiting-based solutions – they identify proactive solutions that explore a broader set of activities (such as organisational/job redesign, outsourcing, talent management strategies) that can most effectively alleviate strategic talent constraints.

“Talent needs analysis is crucial to understanding current and future people issues in a particular function”

To build effective strategic workforce plans, McEwan said HR teams must engage in strong two-way dialogues with peers in other corporate functions about talent needs.

“Talent needs analysis is crucial to understanding current and future people issues in a particular function,” he said.

“The information gained from talent needs analysis conversations informs and develops the function’s strategic workforce plan, and influences the function’s business plan and the HR business plan.”

HR teams should structure talent needs analysis conversations in order clarify different, yet equally important aspects of management and operations with their functional peer.

“Ask questions about strategy, structure, workforce requirements to deliver strategy, current people management issues, and top priorities.

“Getting this right has some pretty big payoffs – better understanding of changing strategic talent needs; more agile HR responses to changing strategic gaps; and improvement in key metrics like quality of hire, time to fill and candidate conversion rates.

“What’s more, effective workforce planning has the highest impact on HR’s strategic contribution to the organisation – more than engagement strategies, succession management, performance management, and other essential HR activities,” he said.

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