Want to attract Gen Z talent? Have a 3G culture.

Young woman working in a lab wearing safety glasses

The professional world has reached a new milestone. 2019 marks the first-ever graduating class of Gen Z.

This new generation of degreed professionals is marching headfirst into a workers’ job market with a considerable set of expectations. What does that mean for employers? You’ve come to the right place!

When I co-founded The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), my mission was to take a deep dive into what makes each generation tick. But not just for curiosity’s sake. I wanted to be able to use that generational insight to help organizations and employers adjust and reinvent to meet the needs of each generation, whether their employees or their customers.

Here are my thoughts—which I recently shared in an interview with Fast Company—about the Class of 2019 Gen Z entering the workforce and what we as employers can do to attract and retain them.

It’s a workers’ market

With the job market sitting pretty these days, Gen Z graduates are in the enviable position of having a breadth of job opportunities to choose from. As a result, that shifts the competition to the employers’ shoulders, which means meeting these new grads’ expectations is paramount.

What is it this graduating Class of 2019 wants from an employer and a career? The LaSalle Network, a staffing agency based in Chicago, recently released its “What the Class of 2019 Wants” report, outlining the attributes that mean the most to this group of Gen Z grads.

Most of the LaSalle report’s findings align with CGK’s own research into what motivates Gen Z and which I have spoken extensively about during keynotes and lectures at events worldwide. This is a generation with a plan and a purpose, and that’s exactly what they want from their employers and their careers.

The way I see it, the Class of 2019’s expectations fall into three general areas, all of which reside under the broader umbrella of “culture.” I’ll outline them for you:

1G: Establish a culture of growth

I’m not talking about organizational growth in the form of employers pillaging an industry in the name of expansion. I’m talking personal, professional growth–and, according to the LaSalle report, it’s the #1 thing this class of Gen Z is looking for when considering a job. It even tops work-life balance and compensation, which come in at #2 and #3 respectively. The desire and expectation for growth is so prevalent, in fact, that more than 75% of this class expects a promotion within their first year or two of employment.

Gen Z wants to know that their employer values their work and has a path in place to allow for professional growth, I shared with Fast Company. To compete, it’s important for employers to not just talk the talk about growth opportunities. They need to show candidates that the company has a growth culture and that measures are in place to help them grow.

How can employers do that?

  • Offer internships—and, during them, discuss how interns can transition into full-time work following graduation. Show them that you value their pre-professional contributions and want to help them grow when the time comes.
  • Offer rotational programs that give new employees an opportunity to test-drive a selection of functional areas within the organization. This not only helps them find their niche when they grow into their position of choice, but it gives them a full-circle look at the entire operation and how each position functions within it.
  • Offer education/certification support as part of your employment package. Giving employees access to—and support for—continued professional growth is a sure-fire way of attracting this advancement-minded generation.

2G: Ensure a culture that is grounding

As I shared with Gwen Moran of Fast Company, Gen Z workers came of age in the shadow of the Great Recession, and they want stability. Surprisingly, we’re even seeing them ask about things like benefits, including retirement.

While the former half of the Millennial generation has struggled to find economic stability even in their day-to-day spending and saving, this first graduating class of Gen Z is entering their inaugural careers determined to find financial grounding from day one.

The LaSalle report mirrors our Gen Z findings when it comes to this generation’s focus on stability. It fact, it found that medical coverage and a 401(k) match are the class’s top two desired benefits. This is really quite unusual given their overall age.

Do their benefit expectations mean only larger employers with more financial leverage can compete for them? Not necessarily. While larger organizations may be able to offer a broader benefits package, smaller organizations can compete by offering more personal access to leaders and execs, which comes in high on the Gen Z class’s wishlist as well.

3G: Maintain a culture of giving

There are two sides to the “giving” equation that matter to this graduating class: 1) that their employers give back to social causes in both word and deed; and 2) that their employers give regular, personal feedback and give employees the opportunity to contribute to organizational improvement.

This generation, much like their older Millennial peers, wants to be part of something. They want to play a role in creating a better organization, a better society. They want to have an impact both as an individual contributor and as an employee of a company that supports causes that align with their own.

It’s not just something superficial like writing a check, though. The employer must actually have some goal that is to make the world, whether it’s in the local community or somewhere else, a better place.

That’s what this Gen Z class wants to do AT work, too, which is why the second aspect of giving is also so important to them.

They want to be given regular feedback so they know how they’re performing, if they’re meeting expectations and if they’re are on target for the growth they expect. But, they also want to give feedback and help the organization grow and improve. For this generation, it’s about having a 360° impact.

So, how can your organization attract this graduating class of new professionals? Make sure your culture is focused where they’re focused: on growth, grounding, and giving. It’s the 3G’s of Gen Z.

How can I help your organization attract and retain Gen Z talent?

Please send me an email, and my friendly team will provide information about my custom presentations, our research services, and my keynote availability. I love working with organizations and employers to help understand the unique professional expectations that differ among generations!

Find me on Instagram (@Jason_Dorsey) to follow me as I share generational insights around the world.

Gen Z Leadership Workforce


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