What Does Gen Z Want From a Job?

Pay and benefits rank high for Gen Z workers, but there are creative ways to give your small business an edge while hiring new talent

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Surprise! Gen Zers care more about "pay" and "benefits" than the values or mission of the company

Zenefits recently conducted a survey asking Generation Z what they look for in a job. The top 2 wish list items may surprise you (and they don’t have to do with kombucha on tap, company core values, or other workplace perks).

They were: pay and benefits.

The newest generation to the workforce ⁠— Generation Z ⁠— includes staffers born between 1995 and the mid-2000s. They currently comprise 5% of the country’s workforce, at about 9 million employees.

When asked to rank the most important factors when looking for a job, the majority of Gen Z respondents (and Millennials, too) chose pay and benefits. Coming in 3rd was job location for both groups.

A company’s values and mission ranked 5th on Gen Z’s list, following the ability to grow their career. The data reveals Gen Z workers are focused on managing their own future.

For employers, understanding what motivates this cohort is key to attracting and retaining talent.

Cash is king

Coming in at the top of their list of when choosing a job and an employer is pay. As the tight marketplace continues to put pressure on employers, this cohort may be in a strong position to get what they want.

With businesses competing for talent, wages are on the rise, with some companies even offering signing bonuses. And with unemployment rates at a historic low, and so many offers to leverage, getting the highest starting wage may certainly be within reach for Gen Z talent.

When it comes to looking for the best wages they can receive, student loan debt repayment may be top of mind for Gen Z. A recent survey showed a majority, 77%, of employees feel student loan debt assistance programs are important when considering an offer.

How it works:

  • Companies make a flat contribution to an employee’s student loan debt
  • Companies make a matching contribution to an employee’s student loan debt

As part of an overall compensation package, student loan debt assistance can help business compete in today’s challenging talent market.

Perks that pique interest

Benefits are next on the list of Gen Z’s deal-makers. Beyond traditional benefits (health, vision, and dental), employers are looking for creative opportunities to attract talent.

1. Paid time off

Paid time off (PTO) is emerging as a top demand for job seekers and employees. The more generous a company can be with personal, sick, vacation and other time off, the more likely they are to attract top talent. When posting available positions, business should prominently promote their PTO policy to attract talent. A Zenefits survey revealed that after healthcare, PTO was the 2nd most valued benefit for job seekers when considering an offer.

SMBs may not always be able to compete with major players in their area when it comes to wages, but PTO policies that are as generous as possible may be a strong avenue to vie for talent in today’s challenging applicant market.

2. Health and wellness

Wellness programs is another top benefit that can round out your package.

Health and wellness offerings include:

  • Continuing education
  • A kitchen stocked with healthy snacks
  • Health fairs
  • On-site flu shots
  • 24/7 nurse hotlines
  • Gym memberships
  • Meditation spaces

Wellness programs not only promote proactive health and fitness initiatives, they reduce medical claims experience, absenteeism, and the awful problem of presenteeism. This is where sick employees come to work anyway, diminishing their own productivity and potentially infecting others. The ripple effect can mean the flu making its rounds throughout your organization.

3. Cafeteria plans on the rise

Trending in the benefits arena are flex benefits programs that allow workers to pick the options important to them and pass on benefits that aren’t of interest. Letting staffers opt into some benefit selections and opt out of others lets them customize their benefits dollars to suit their needs. Sometimes referred to as cafeteria plans, employees are able to select the options that meet their needs today, knowing there are other choices for them in the future.

An example may be an entry-level worker with no dependents who doesn’t see the value of a life insurance policy. For them, the option may be of no value. For another staffer with dependents, life insurance may be a must have benefit. When employees have more choices through a cafeteria plan, they’re better able to manage their benefits and financial future.

4. Flexibility

Flexible scheduling is often a benefit SMBs have more ability to offer than their large competitors. For some retailers, being open at the crack of dawn means capturing commuter traffic. For others, early mornings are slower than a crawl. The ability to analyze and adjust hours of operation and employee scheduling can make flexible hours attainable within your company. For some workers, being able to avoid the worst of the commute hours is a huge factor in considering an offer.

Another flex option may be working remotely or from home periodically or with regularity. Whether remote work is right for your company is determined by many factors, but if you can offer the option, job seekers will respond.

5. Money management help

Financial wellness benefits are on the rise as well. From basic budgeting and money management assistance to help with student loan debt repayment, planning for a first home, college for the kids or retirement, employers are offering expert advice to help workers meet their financial goals and needs. The payoff for business: workers with less stress (personal, professional and financial) are more productive.

Getting creative

In addition to traditional benefits, employers are getting creative in their offerings. Bringing pets to work, providing time off or support for volunteer efforts, fun company events are just the beginning. Some organizations are piloting bring your infant to work options for new parents. Others offer the ability to bring in older children when childcare options fail at the 11th hour. There are many ways SMBs may have an advantage over larger companies in their ability to offer more flexible, creative benefits options.

With pay and benefits the top two items on Gen Z’s wish list when it comes to accepting a job offer, SMBs may be able to offer so many other options that attract talent.  Competitive wages are important, but benefits that are flexible and respond to worker’s needs and wants may tip the balance when it comes time to say yes to an offer of employment with your company.

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