Two years into my tenure at JUV Consulting, as one of the leadership members in our People Operations Department, I sometimes wonder how I got to be where I am, doing what I am, surrounded by who I am. The short answer is: it got that way with a lot of hard work and elbow grease from a formerly two-person department. The much longer answer is: it got that way because two Gen Zers were given ownership of arguably one of the most important functions of a company – human resources – and given a chance to reimagine what that ought to look like through a purpose-driven lens.
When I wake up in the morning, most of my notifications are from my co-workers. No, it’s not all them sending me emails or chat messages (though it is a lot of that); much of it is them replying to my Instagram story, maybe sending me a TikTok in the iMessage groupchat, or DMing me an absolutely unhinged tweet.
Contrary to popular belief, I think many Gen Zers are realists – recognizing the quintessential duality of some of the toughest topics out there; in areas like sustainability, government, and corporate structures. We understand and allow for the grey area, and are open to dialogue if maybe something can be fixed the “old fashioned way”, and understand that living our values 100% of the time is an impossible feat even for even the biggest die-hard activist.
So as much as I hate the idea of trickle-down (*hurt to type that*), I knew that in approaching hiring differently, we’d have to start from the top-down. When my boss and I reviewed our hiring processes, pipelines, and expectations, we realized that what works for one role may not work for another; and while that may sound like common sense, you’d be surprised at the amount of organizations whose hiring process is a carbon copy, regardless of role, level, or tenure. We also learned that where young people are looking for work is changing, and shifted our digital strategy to target bigger bases on LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok.
According to our own research of our Gen Z network, 75% of respondents are using LinkedIn, and 65% are using social media sites to seek out professional opportunities. We have moved away from “I want to work for” to “I want to work”. In the same study, our Yellowpaper, we also found that while well established companies still held a narrow majority of interest from our generation for employment (54%), that other near half was made up of start-ups (21%), freelancing (13%), and the non-profit/government sector (12%). This paints a clear picture of how the gig economy will continue to be the future for this generation, and likely, those who follow us.
Not only that, but what GenZ is looking for in the workplace is also changing. Our aforementioned research found that the most important thing when considering an employer was one’s passion for the work (36%). This outranked what many of us may fairly assume to be the number one factor, salary and benefits (30%).
Additionally, and maybe another surprise, GenZ *actually* does want to go into the office, with 67% of young people preferring a hybrid or flexible work environment to strictly remote or strictly in-person work. This brings up even more questions for me and likely many other HR professionals around what gets folks to show up to the office, whether its in-office events, perks, or just plain-old time for some good water-cooler comradery.
The end of my day is also closed by many Facetimes, dinner meet-ups, or after-hours adventures with my co-workers. Whether we’re leaving together from our WeWork space or meeting up after working from home, people with the same interests, passion, and core ethos are bound to mesh with each other.
I won’t lie either – being close friends with your co-workers, which I hope is the future of work, comes with its challenges. However, when who is hiring looks like who is being hired, and leadership meets the team where they’re at in their life and professional journey, you’re bound to connect on a much deeper level. However, this requires us to reimagine what work looks like in the future: where it is, how it’s done, how it’s compensated, with whom it’s done, and much, much more. My CEO often says his biggest dream is for two of the company’s employees to become best friends – I’m happy to report I’ve let him know he can dream bigger.