Generation Z knows what it expects from employers. And employers want them.
Danielle Ross is a 26 year old young woman who lives in a small town in upstate New York. She describes herself as artistic and creative. She paints in her spare time and she has worked as a mermaid for children’s parties, swimming in a tail she made herself.
Ms. Ross, who identifies as LGBTQ, couldn’t imagine working in a job that would require her to downplay her identity or skills, which is why she was thrilled when Legoland New York Resort, a theme park in Goshen, NY, hired her to be its first female master builder. Ms. Ross has been given wide latitude to use Lego bricks to create miniature towns throughout the park, drawing on her artistic side and her desire to promote diversity and inclusion.
“I’ve educated people of all races, nationalities and religions and everything I can imagine, because I want everyone to feel represented,” she said. His miniature figures are blind and tall. They have prosthetic legs and wear burkas. Recently, she created a Hasidic Jew.
The creative freedom made Ms. Ross love her job – and that’s the point. Over the past year, Legoland New York has joined a growing number of companies striving to create an engaging and nurturing environment for young employees that embraces who they are and where they hope to go. By recruiting Gen Z workers – born in the late 1990s and early 2000s – employers aim to both harness their energy and creativity and offset an acute labor shortage, with some 11 million unfilled jobs in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Last fall, Legoland began allowing employees like Ms. Ross to have piercings, tattoos and colored hair. A national hotel company has begun experimenting with a four-day work week. Healthcare company GoodRx allows employees to work not just from home, but from anywhere in the country, bringing in an outside company to provide ad hoc office space upon request. Other companies carefully curate career paths for their employees and offer extensive mental health benefits and financial advice.
The objective is not only to bring in young employees, but also to keep them in their jobs, which is no small feat. Investigations show that young workers are comfortable changing jobs more frequently than other generations. But, thanks to these efforts, many companies have so far avoided the labor shortages plaguing their competitors.
“We currently have over 1,500 employees,” said Jessica Woodson, human resources manager at Legoland, “and I can say with confidence that at least half are Gen Zers.”
At Sage Hospitality Group, which operates more than 100 hotels, restaurants and bars across the country, 20% of employees are members of Generation Z.
“We need this workforce,” said Daniel del Olmo, president and chief operating officer of the company’s hotel management division. “We recognize that Gen Z is looking for different things than other generations, and we’re trying to accommodate that.”
After the onset of the pandemic, the company realized that many younger employees wanted a healthy work-life balance. In fact, studies like the one recently conducted by ADP Research Institute show that many employees would quit if an employer demanded a full-time return to the office.
Sage Hospitality is now piloting a four-day work week at select properties for positions such as cooks, housekeepers and receptionists. These jobs have been the hardest to fill during the pandemic, and the company has about 960 vacancies.
The four-day workweek has helped, Mr. del Olmo said. “Rather than having this negative feeling of, I have to go to work because I have to make a living,” he said, “so it’s, I want to go to work because I can combine it with my life that I love.”
Employees at the company’s Denver headquarters are allowed to work remotely at least one day a week, and all employees are allowed to bring their dogs to work one day a week.
“A team member will take care of the dog if an associate needs to clean a room or show something to a guest,” Mr. del Olmo said.
Mason Mills, 26, a marketing manager for one of the company’s hotels in Denver, said the pandemic has changed his generation’s perspective.
“We started to see that while a career is incredibly important, so is living the life you’ve been given,” she said. “By allowing dogs in the office and having a work-from-home schedule to accommodate some of those needs, it shows the business is changing.”
According to Roberta Katz, a Stanford anthropologist who studies Generation Z, younger and older generations view the workplace fundamentally differently.
“American Generation Z, for the most part, has only known an internet-connected world,” Dr. Katz wrote in an email. Partly because they grew up using collaborative platforms like Wikipedia and GoFundMe, she said, younger employees came to view work “as something that was no longer a 9-to-5 obligation. at work or at school.
Andrew Barrett-Weiss, director of workplace experience at GoodRx, which offers prescription discounts, said giving employees that kind of autonomy and flexibility helped the company close more. of an agreement. GoodRx offers employees the ability to not only be fully remote, but to have an office wherever they wish to travel in the United States.
GoodRx also provides financial advisors to employees. “A Generation Zer may not have enough money to have an investment account, but they can have it,” Barrett-Weiss said. Career coaching and fertility benefits are also offered.
“We’re trying to solve big problems in health care,” Barrett-Weiss added, “so we need the freshest, youngest perspective we can get.”
Sydney Brodie, 27, an account executive at The CollectiveM, a communications agency in New York, was thrilled when the company owner told her that in July she would be providing employees with a home in the Hamptons, where they could bond with each other and their customers.
“I was already so loyal to the company,” Ms. Brodie said, “but now I’m like, why would you look anywhere else?”
She was also a member of Soho House, an exclusive private club, partly as a means of networking. “My company sees what I need as a person,” she said. “They give me the tools to excel personally and professionally.”
Kencko, a fruit and vegetable-centric subscription dining service, focuses on mental health. All employees, along with their household members, get six sessions with a therapist, which is no small perk given that hourly prices for such services have reached $400 in some parts of the country.
Still other companies are trying to capitalize on young workers’ desire to advance in their careers. In a LinkedIn investigation this year, 40% of young workers said they were willing to take a 5% pay cut to take a position with career development opportunities.
That’s why Blank Street Coffee, a chain of 40 cafes in the United States and England, is making career growth part of its recruitment pitch, said Issam Freiha, the chief executive. Employees who want to advance in the company are offered a clear path that they can follow.
After Alex Cwiok, a barista from Blank Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who has a passion for coding, told her manager that she wanted to be behind a computer, “he took it up to the superiors, and eventually they m brought them to headquarters,” she said. “I never thought in a million years that I would ever be ripped off the pitch and given an office and a salary.”
Ms Cwiok, 27, now manages customer emails and reviews as a customer success associate. She is also working on updating the brand application.
For baristas who see their job at Blank Street as a side hustle, the company is helping them take the next step. “We use our network of alumni and investors to get people where they want to go,” Freiha said. “We have a barista on a TV show.”
Blank Street constantly asks its young baristas what they want. “We have to keep innovating,” Mr. Freiha said. “This generation doesn’t want to work for something that’s outdated.”