Convert and retain young talent in a remote workforce

people talking at a desk

The demographic of the current workforce is changing. As we see large numbers of talent reaching retirement, along with a decline in global birth rates, it's time to focus on bringing Gen Z into your organization.

In the third event of the Future-Ready Workforce Series from the University of Waterloo's Work-Learn Institute, we tackled the topic of converting and retaining the next generation of talent. The three themes below cover how your organization can use your values to motivate talent, build a strong company culture and encourage meaningful contributions at work.

Checking alignment of your organizational values with the values of next gen talent

When thinking about your company’s values, what are the top values that come to mind? When surveyed, employers identified these as their top three values:

  1. Self-direction (independent thought and management) 
  2. Security (being safe and in harmony with others) 
  3. Universalism (tolerance for differences in the world) 

Through our research, we discovered there is a “values gap” between Gen Z employees and their potential employers. When surveyed, the top three values students identified were: 

  1. Benevolence (helping friends and family) 
  2. Self-direction (independent thought and management) 
  3. Hedonism (having fun) 

There is a clear disconnect between the values of Gen Z students and employers. Almost 50% of Gen Z survey respondents said they would be unlikely to accept a role that matches their skills but not their values.

When considering how to convert and retain the next generation of talent, it’s important to consider how your company’s values align with the generation you’re bringing into your organization. 

Creating a supportive and connected company culture

The term “culture” in the workplace can often be perceived as synonymous with “fun”. But as the workforce changes, it’s becoming more important to shift your mindset to establish long-term relationships and reduce hiring risks by creating a connected company culture.

In an analysis of 37,000+ job postings on WaterlooWorks, some of the top words linked to company culture were collaboration, challenge and change. While it’s important to offer a fun work environment, we’re seeing Gen Z talent searching out jobs that provide a supportive and connected company culture where they can make a positive change. 

Providing meaningful work and development opportunities

Results from a survey completed by students from the winter 2021 work term showed that students were more likely to recommend a job or employer if they had been given the opportunity to make meaningful contributions at work and develop new skills.

Also, when students were given opportunities to expand their professional network, they were more likely to express an interest in returning to work for that organization after graduation. While COVID-19 limits in-person interactions, consider ways you can help your students connect with people in the industry to expand their network. 

Your conversion and retention strategies can help transition short-term employees into full-time team members and build a future-ready talent pipeline. Interested in learning more? Get further insights by watching a recording of the event