Recruiting Gen Z | Looking for new talent? Tips to attract and retain Gen Z

Recruiting Gen Z | Looking for new talent? Tips to attract and retain Gen Z, the iGeneration

Recruiting Gen Z

Looking for new talent? Tips to attract and retain Gen Z, the iGeneration

The construction industry is undergoing a transformation in its use of technology, and it’s a change that could help far beyond the work site. For an industry continuing to face a shortage of workers long term, using technology to reach, recruit and retain our next generation of employees (right now, the target is Generation Z or “Gen Z”) is a logical way to boost interest in construction careers. So, what can and should you be doing to reach this critical audience, and how can technology help bridge the gap?

Gen Z now makes up 30% of the global population and a quarter of the workforce. Born between 1996 and the early 2010s, these digital natives grew up during a time of rapid technological advancement and have never known a world without the internet. They embrace technology and look for businesses that do the same. Recent statistics show that 91% of Gen Z says that technology sophistication would impact their interest in working for a company.

“This generation is more adept at communicating than any that ever existed before,” wrote Charlotte Nicol in the article “5 ways to attract and retain Generation Z talent.” She notes that this generation has been using instant messenger applications, social media and email since they were quite young. They’ve been honing their written communication skills for most of their lives, and it makes them “extremely valuable, especially in roles that require a high level of communication such as customer service, sales and marketing.”

Recruiting Gen Z | Looking for new talent? Tips to attract and retain Gen Z, the iGeneration
Technology that allows employees to work from home can be appealing to Generation Z.

Use ‘culture’ technology

To promote your company and recruit new talent, turn to Gen Z’s preferred social platforms, which include TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Studies show that Gen Z spends nearly three hours per day on social media, which is more than any other generation. If you’re looking for new recruits, it’s imperative to have a strong social presence.

“Company’s talent attraction efforts must be as digitally native as Generation Z,” said Ryan Jenkins, Generation Z speaker and generations expert, in an article for Inc. He went on to say that “to reach next-generation talent pools, disrupt the prevailing models of talent attraction by using innovative technology.” He encourages companies to have a strong presence on Indeed, LinkedIn and other top recruiting websites and mobile apps so that Gen Z can “discover their ideal employers.”

Social media is a valuable recruitment tool because of its ability to target preferred candidates, wrote Albert Galarza, a member of Forbes Human Resources Council, in Forbes. He noted that beyond recruiting, social media can also support employee advocacy, in which your employees can help promote your company through their own channels. “By encouraging Gen Z workers to share content about your workplace culture and tagging it with a custom hashtag, you can attract other Gen Z candidates and continue to grow your talent pool.”

Embrace work-from-home, remote tech

Companies that allow and trust employees to work remotely — at least some of the time, where possible — can be more attractive to younger generations. Over the past year and a half more people worked from home than ever before because of the global pandemic. The move to work from home (WFH)  showed that productivity doesn’t suffer outside of the traditional office workspace. The cloud, virtual private networks and other technology, along with Wi-Fi and mobile devices, make this possible. While not feasible for field personnel who must run machinery and install utilities, the opportunity to WFH might be an incentive for traditional office and IT jobs, as well as other workers who only need to be on-site occasionally.

Recruiting Gen Z | Looking for new talent? Tips to attract and retain Gen Z, the iGeneration
Training tools that simulate operating equipment and other processes that use virtual reality and artificial intelligence are becoming more popular. Many in Gen Z grew up playing video games with similar characteristics, so they are adept with that kind of technology.

Technology to train

Using technology to train could be a selling point for many Gen Z workers and ease their onboarding. They are very “digitally literate,” so using computers, simulators and/or virtual reality (VR) as training platforms makes sense and helps frame your company as modern. 

“VR technologies are far beyond the stage where it’s only gaming that can benefit from them,” Catherine Strohanova, an expert in virtual reality applications, wrote in “4 Ways to Use Virtual Reality in the Construction Industry.” “Virtual reality is slowly but steadily taking root in major industries like the oil and gas sector, and the construction specialists have also found several beneficial ways of using VR.”

Construction-specific technologies

Don’t underestimate the value of an increasingly tech-enhanced site, as well. For a generation that grew up playing video games and maybe even got a drone for Christmas in the past 10 years, today’s digitally enhanced work is an evolution from what some may view as a more traditional career choice. 

New recruits will of course have to take the necessary courses and tests to become licensed pilots before they fly a drone over a site, but learning new technology hardware can be appealing to Gen Z.

Today’s construction equipment is more sophisticated and technologically advanced than ever with bolt-on and built-in technology that captures data and uses it to control the machine. This technology virtually eliminates staking, saves time and material costs, and lets novice operators perform productively faster. While they still must learn how to properly move dirt, the machines offer the advantage of taking the guesswork out of getting to grade.