Gen Z: Shaping Location and Expansion Decisions
Companies using artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and other technology are seeking out Gen Zers to fulfill their workforce needs — in places this most tech-savvy cohort of the labor force wants to be.
Workforce availability is a top priority for companies as they consider locating near talent hubs to supply their workforce needs. In Area Development magazine’s 33rd annual Corporate Survey and 15th annual Consultant’s Survey, availability of skilled labor was once again the number-one factor in the location decision for both groups. With Gen Z coming into the workforce, there are now five generations working side by side, and companies will need to rethink their recruitment strategies and adapt their culture to attract these young workers.
Who Are Gen Zers?
McKinsey defines Gen Z as those born between 1995 and 2010, with the oldest Gen Zers being 24 years old and the youngest being nine years old. Gen Zers are tech-savvy or digital natives, having grown up with the Internet and social media at their fingertips. To put things into perspective, Facebook was founded in 2004, and the oldest Gen Zers were 8 years old that year. The iPhone was released in 2007, when the oldest Gen Zers were 11 years. A generation that is constantly scrolling, liking, and sharing on social media has skills like no other generation can bring to the workplace.
Gen Zers represent 20 percent of the U.S. population, and while many of them are still in elementary, middle, high school, or college, it is projected that they are on track to become the most educated generation yet.
Gen Zers are also risk-averse as a result of the Great Recession and, therefore, financial stability is a priority for all of them. For this reason, Gen Zers are willing to stay at one job longer than their millennial counterparts. They also seek to avoid student loan debt, taking other measures to fund their education. Speaking of finances, Venmo, Cash App, and Apple Pay are the norm for Gen Zers as they split Uber rides, dinner, and rent payments.
With their phones glued to their hands, Gen Zers spend approximately 25 to 38 percent of each day online searching for answers to questions, shopping, and scrolling through social media. They use YouTube, help forums, and other online sources to look for solutions to problems.
With Gen Z coming into the workforce, there are now five generations working side by side, and companies will need to rethink their recruitment strategies and adapt their culture to attract these young workers. Corporate Need for Talent and Location Analysis
Companies are taking a blow to their bottom line due to the inability to find qualified talent. There are currently more than seven million open jobs; and finding employees with the talent that matches the skills required is a daunting task. In addition, 10,000 baby-boomers are turning 65 each day, adding to the number of unfilled jobs; however, many will work past typical retirement age.
When determining where to invest capital in a new facility location or expansion, companies must examine not just where the most Gen Zers are living, but what training programs and partnerships are in place to develop their talent. This is especially true for companies located in rural America, where talent is scarcer. Partnerships with local community colleges, other educational providers, and economic development organizations will prove key in developing a talent pipeline.
Site selectors should also analyze the overall growth of the economy in prospective locations to ensure that new talent will continue to enter the market so their company can be successful well into the future.
Types of Companies Attracting Gen Zers
Gen Zers can master any technology, and that is a major reason why employers shouldn’t shy away from hiring them. Gen Zers will be drawn to companies that use advanced technology and software as the primary means of business operations. Having the latest sophisticated technology will keep these young workers happy, productive, and contributing to the bottom line.
Need assistance increasing your company’s brand awareness? No worries. Gen Zers will be able to help companies increase their digital presence on social media and company blogs, which can, in turn, increase awareness about the company, its services, and products.
Not practicing sustainability is out of the question for Gen Zers. These young people want to work for companies that share the same values as they do. Promoting a company’s sustainability efforts will appeal to the environmentalist that is inside every Gen Zer. Due to the tight labor market, Gen Zers can be picky with their job search, and companies will need to promote their “cool” factors to entice them.
Companies are taking a blow to their bottom line due to the inability to find qualified talent. There are currently more than seven million open jobs; and finding employees with the talent that matches the skills required is a daunting task. How to Attract Gen Zers
Recruiting Gen Zers to work for a company requires unconventional approaches. Gone are the days when posting a job opening in a newspaper or on a website would turn up multiple qualified job candidates. Companies are having to meet job candidates where they are, and the place to meet Gen Zers is on social media. According to a LinkedIn study, major companies are using social media platforms such as Snapchat to “get ahead of the curve in recruiting future leaders.”
Companies are also beginning to place recruitment ads on social media and show behind-the-scenes glimpses of employees in their workspaces. Utilization of short videos to show off a company’s culture is also useful in recruiting Gen Zers.
The opportunity to work remotely or access their work via the cloud is a major incentive for Gen Z workers. These young people want flexible work that accommodates their lifestyle and doesn’t keep them tied to a desk for 40 hours a week.
Utilization of mobile job applications that are short and to the point is a great way to appeal to Gen Z talent. Job applications that are lengthy, convoluted, and outdated quickly drive away Gen Zers.
Companies that offer training in areas where Gen Zers have weaknesses — such as in interpersonal relationship building and communication skills — will allow them to become more comfortable interacting with others in person. Gen Zers also value mentorship, not management, and desire immediate and constant feedback on their work.Show Gen Zers how they can advance with your company, and they will put their all into helping your company find new solutions to old problems.
On-the-job training will prove beneficial when hiring Gen Zers. Although many Gen Zers won’t have previous job experience, companies must value the hard skills that this generation possesses.
Gen Zers also know the importance of health and wellness. Offering traditional benefits packages will draw their attention, but offering things like free gym memberships and on-site workout facilities will reel them in. With that, quality of life and cost of living are important to Gen Zers as well. Urban areas offer more work-life balance for Gen Zers, as well as amenities such as live music, art, and eateries. Gen Zers like to feel as if they are living their best life, so amenities are definitely important to recruiting them.
As more and more Gen Zers enter the workforce and begin living on their own, the topic of affordable housing will become front and center. It has been stated that millennials have postponed buying homes because of the large amounts of debt that they have accumulated, in addition to the shortage of affordable housing. While convenience is certainly important, most Gen Zers probably don’t want to trade off low rent for longer commutes.
W hen determining where to invest capital in a new facility location or expansion, companies must examine not just where the most Gen Zers are living, but what training programs and partnerships are in place to develop their talent. Speaking of commute times, the topic of transportation will surface when looking to recruit Gen Z workers. Many of them have grown up in a world of car-sharing, which includes Uber, Lyft, and others. Studies have shown that many young people are forgoing car ownership, and although they like having access to a ride at the click of a button, they prefer access without ownership. Public transportation options will also be a major factor in attracting Gen Zers, especially in larger metro areas. Shorter commute times will serve as a plus when looking to attract these workers.
Companies must adjust their location analysis lens to set talent as a priority. Gen Zers are the most diverse, educated, and tech-savvy generation ever and are acclimated to swiftly changing technology and environments. Because these young people are digital pros, companies looking to recruit them must meet them where they are and be willing to make accommodations. Although negative dialogue exists about millennials and Gen Zers, each generation brings their own set of communication styles and preferences to the workplace. It is up to employers to find a balance that suits the needs of all generations within their company. As the labor market tightens, more and more companies will begin investing in their workforce development programs and restructuring their workforce strategies. It may be considerably easier for a company to place a new business near their talent source than for them to try to recruit talent to a place that cannot meet their skills needs. Companies that are progressive in adopting artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and other technology will find that Gen Zers will readily jump in and excel at these new innovations.
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