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How to Incentivize the Gen Z Workforce in 2023

April 5, 2023
Six attributes that make a company attractive to Gen Z workers.

Generation Z is becoming a more significant part of the workforce as time passes. Each age group comes with a new vision of what they want from their employers. The next wave of workers doesn’t fall under a blanket, but they desire certain things businesses should adhere to.

Here’s how to incentivize the Gen Z workforce to work for a company.

Who Counts as Gen Z?

The exact years of Gen Z are up for discussion. There’s no definite beginning or end for this generation, which succeeds millennials and comes before Generation Alpha. The Pew Research Center uses 1997 as the starting point and 2012 as the conclusion.

Much of Gen Z has been to college or is considering their educational future. Now is the time for blue-collar businesses to incorporate tactics for courting this upcoming group.  

Why Does Courting Gen Z Matter?

Changing practices and operations may be challenging for some businesses, but it’s necessary moving forward. Many blue-collar jobs face labor shortages, especially as older employees retire.

To cite one statistic, the construction industry has nearly a quarter-million job openings. Recruiting and teaching the next generation is vital for businesses worldwide.

Recruiting Gen Z Prospects

Times change, and so do recruiting practices. Following are six attributes that make an employer attractive to Gen Z prospects—and guess what? They can all be used to build and grow a successful business, no matter what age cohort you're trying to target.

1. Diversity and Inclusion

Gen Z is the most diverse generation yet. In the US, Gen Z kids and adults come from numerous backgrounds. They’ve seen diversity for much of their lives, so they want their employers to share similar values regarding inclusion.

Gen Z prioritizes diversity, and it reflects workers from all generations. A Glassdoor survey finds that 76% of prospective employees see diversity as a high priority when researching businesses to work for.

Diversity helps recruit new talent and benefits the business. Diverse workforces are more productive and develop new and better practices in the industry. Contractors should implement more inclusive initiatives involving awareness and education. Workers who see someone who looks like them have a higher sense of belonging.   

2. Flexibility

Some members of Gen Z may enjoy the 9-to-5 shift, but younger workers are moving toward flexible work environments. According to FlexJobs, nearly three-fourths of Gen Z workers say they want workplace flexibility. Contractors won’t necessarily work from home or have hybrid models, but there are ways businesses can accomodate this desire.

Flexibility starts with the hours worked. Some employees want to come in early, whereas others need to start later because of family obligations. Workers want to collaborate with their managers to decide their hours and allow breaks if necessary for things like health care appointments. A rigid work schedule could lead to dissatisfaction if someone has to take off work and lose pay for attending to an obligation.

3. Environmental Consciousness

The younger generations are concerned about climate change. They have accepted it as a fact, and as something that will affect their lives and the lives of their children. Gen Z engages in activism, and its passion also extends to professional careers. A Handshake study finds that 65% of Gen Z prospects are more likely to apply to a business if they know it has sustainable practices. However, 60% say they avoid employers if their environmental impact is negative.

Businesses can improve their carbon footprint by converting their fleet to electric vehicles (EVs). EVs are relatively new and may seem expensive. However, they’re becoming more widespread and affordable. For example, Ford announced an $11 billion investment in EVs and more since then as the tide has turned toward renewable energy.

Many automakers are pledging to switch to EVs by the decade’s end because they’re easier to maintain and cheaper for the customer in the long run. Contractors can see significant ROIs with EVs.

Plumbing and hydronic heating professionals can tout their eco-friendly offerings—low-flow fixtures, tankless water heaters, radiant systems, high-efficiency boilers and the like—not just to their customers, but also to their new recruits.

4. Professional Development

An emerging trend among Gen Z workers is higher aspirations. This generation has seen the world move at a lightning-fast pace, so quickly moving is what they’ve known. They apply this belief in the workforce with professional development.

Gen Zers want to see paths for advancement in their careers. A ServiceNow study finds that professional growth and learning opportunities are Gen Z’s highest priority in their job search.

There are numerous ways plumbers and other contractors can promote professional development. They can institute mentorship programs led by veteran employees. A business can bring in an industry expert to discuss trends and field questions about the sector’s growth. Keeping fresh and innovative learning opportunities will help young employees feel fulfilled and engaged. 

5. Industry Growth

Growth as an individual employee is critical, and Gen Z workers want to see expansion in the industry. Some fields rise and fall quickly, so contractors must emphasize the development of their sectors. Automation and alternative practices have replaced some positions, but they won’t put plumbers or hydronic heating contractors out of work anytime soon.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the future of plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters is positive:

Experts project about 48,600 openings for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters each year, on average, over the decade. There were about 469,000 jobs in 2021, so employment opportunities are plentiful. And even better for aspirants, the median pay in 2021 was $59,880/year ($28.79/hour). 

6. Apprenticeships and Partnerships

The best way to get younger generations interested in a field of work is to get them in the door early. The recruiting process should start as soon as middle and high school. Many education systems have trade schools that teach kids the basics, and once they graduate, they’ll be ready for apprenticeships and internships.

Contractors can take advantage by partnering with these schools and getting involved by teaching or being special guests for their classes. These partnerships are vital at the community college and vocational school levels.

Gen Z's interest in technology is something contractors can take advantage of. Showing developments in industry technology allows young people to gain perspective and respect for the work that goes into these jobs. Increasing engagement at a young age motivates them and prepares them for the next era.

The Next Generation

As each year passes, Gen Z occupies a more significant section of the workforce as baby boomers and older generations retire. These new workers have unique priorities which businesses need to keep in mind when recruiting, developing and retaining their workforce.

Oscar Collins is the Editor-in-Chief at Modded. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.

About the Author

Oscar Collins

Oscar Collins is the Editor-in-Chief at Modded. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.

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