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Young people aren't uncommitted. It's you who doesn't know how to retain them

There's no magic formula. If you want to captivate this generation, you must come down from your pedestal and learn from them.

Ivana Santana

Ivana Santana

— Copywriter

Category: Employer Branding

Reading time 5 Minutes

Publish date: 20.09.2023

Young people aren't uncommitted. It's you who doesn't know how to retain them

Do you think a ping-pong table, a craft beer tap, and Friday pizzas will retain young talents?

Answer: they won’t.

Our society is now ridiculing employers who think that buying T-shirts, water bottles, and ping-pong tables for employees can also buy their loyalty,”

…explained Gorick Ng, Harvard career consultant and author of the book “The Unspoken Rules,” a bestseller about Generation Z in the workplace.

Yes, Generation Z is demanding.

And yes, you need to meet these demands if you want young talents to work committedly in your company.

And I’ll explain why.

Is Generation Z Uncommitted and Unstable?

I’ve heard the phrase “young people don’t care about anything” many times, in different contexts.

If we look at some data, this impression may even be reinforced. According to information collected in 2020 by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, almost a quarter of people aged 18 to 24 stay in a company for less than three months.

But is this instability a sign of uncommitment or just a different way of seeing the world?

The generation of these young people’s parents and grandparents understood success as:

  • Long-term tenure in a company.
  • Advancement in positions within the organization.
  • Good financial compensations.

Generation Z young person playing with their cat
Young people are loyal to their own quality of life and purposes.

Currently, young people understand success differently.

A segment from a Forbes article mentions that, one day, young people discussed their dream job. But today, they will probably say that they don’t dream about their job. And some research supports this argument:

  • Studies by career consultant Gorick Ng, mentioned earlier, show that less than 2% of Generation Z has the ambition to climb the corporate ladder.
  • A study by Snapchat highlights that 83% of people in this generation are seeking and prioritizing actions that value the collective good.
  • An article from Consumidor Moderno reveals that young people tend to seek products from brands with ethics, sustainability, and transparency and expect a more proactive stance from brands, with 48% believing they need to lead change (this not only grounds consumption but also guides the search for jobs).

Mental Health vs. Job Market

And what would have caused this change in understanding about what success is for young people?

Let’s observe another statement by Gorick Ng about Generation Z: “there is a real restlessness in questioning why things are as they are.”

If we stop to analyze, this makes sense. Because things as they are, are not good for young people.

Data from the studies The Generation Z Equation and Atlas of Youth - Evidence for the transformation of youth show that:

  • Young people of this generation have never been more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • In Brazil, 67% of young women and 50% of young men reported feeling anxiety negatively.
  • Approximately 21 to 28% of teenagers experience a severe episode of depression by the age of 19.
  • For every young person who commits suicide, there may be 100 to 200 suicide attempts.

Add to this the fact that Generation Z is innovative by nature and likes to solve complex problems. The study The Generation Z Equation even states that this is the most entrepreneurial generation that has ever existed.

Thinking about all this, we can conclude that young people are loyal to their own quality of life and purposes, not to companies that don’t care about them and the world.

How to attract Generation Z and ensure the commitment of these young people to a company?

Start with the basics: your company needs to deliver a value proposition that makes young people feel motivated, with purpose and autonomy. Show that your company is willing to fight for real changes for the collective good, sustainability, and inclusion.

And how to do that? Well, there’s no miraculous technique.

But consider this statement from Gorick Ng about Generation Z: Our society is now ridiculing employers who think that buying T-shirts, water bottles, and ping-pong tables for employees can also buy their loyalty.”

For him, the main actions that leaders can take to attract and retain young talents have to do with listening to and understanding these people.

From there, pay attention to two points:

  1. To create your value proposition for Generation Z, make collective intelligence a premise. Don’t do it alone. Listen to your employees. Listen to the young people. Create together with them. Experiment with the innovation they propose.
  2. After it’s created, your value proposition needs to be promoted. To reach your target audience, you need to understand how to communicate with them. For example, Corteva Agriscience is a company that needed to understand how to advertise open positions in its internship program to young people. Together, we created a campaign to promote the positions focusing on TikTok.

So, in summary: don’t seek magic formulas to attract and retain young talents. Talk to the people around you, consult experts, and create a model that works for your company and the reality of your employees.

And don’t make it just a beautiful theory. Young people want to see (and do) things work in practice!

Ivana Santana

Ivana Santana

— Copywriter

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