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Recruiting and Retaining Generation Z Talent

Recruiting and Retaining Generation Z Talent

Alex Atherton is an experienced educator, executive coach and leadership team coach. He worked in education for 25 years, over half of which was spent as a secondary school headteacher in large inner-London comprehensives. He is the former secondary school headteacher who heard the word ‘snowflake’ once too often to describe his former pupils.

Alex has kindly shared with us his latest Blog on Recruiting and Retaining Generation Z talent.


Many organisations are struggling to recruit, retain and engage Gen Z, the youngest generation in the workplace. There are significant challenges in attracting young employees across the board. It is still possible to recruit the best, but only with a new approach.

Gen Z years of birth were 1995 to 2009. The eldest are approaching 30 and the youngest are in the middle of their GCSE courses.

The numbers are not small. By 2025 they will represent a quarter of the UK workforce and become larger than the Boomers (the youngest of whom turn 60 this year). Key characteristics of Gen Z include:

  • Diligent – their academic outcomes are significantly higher than any which have come before. No generation has worked harder at school or university.
  • Prudent – they have inherited poor economic circumstances. Their education was affected by austerity and as soon as they got to the workplace there was a pandemic.
  • Patient – key milestones such as marriage, buying property and retiring will either happen much later on average should they happen at all. This has an impact on their attitudes towards working life.

Too often the literature, and media reporting, around Generation Z is glass half-empty material or outright negative. References to ‘snowflakes’ have become a trope.

There can also be a real reluctance amongst the older generations to see the world through Gen Z’s eyes. Attempts to make them ‘more like us’ and help them to get their ‘heads around the real world’ are not helpful and will only backfire.

There is a need to take some time to understand. So how to overcome the key challenges around Gen Z recruitment and retention? A couple of key solutions are recommended below.

Be Clear, Be Thorough

If you want to recruit, retain and motivate the best you need to be ultra-clear. Young staff expect to see the detail about all aspects of the job. You likely need to have more information available than you think is reasonable. Collectively clarity and detail generate transparency, and that is the starting point for trust.

Gen Z is too young to remember a time when they were not bombarded by content. Filtering out what is not useful or truthful absorbs energy. They can be deeply suspicious of anything that looks too polished, or incomplete. Video has a further advantage, in that it conveys a greater degree of authenticity.

The most able Gen Zs are looking for organisations who get this right and seek the best in doing so. It may be more difficult to cut through these days, but there is no need to compromise on quality. Gen Zs are looking for ambitious organisations who seek high-calibre candidates.

Demonstrating the detail through has one other major advantage. It gives the impression you are more likely to survive whenever the next economic crisis or pandemic hits. Gen Zs value those who think ahead.

Be Who You Say You Are

The battle for retention should start as soon as your Gen Z employees arrive and not let up. The key is that they expect to find what was described on appointment.

A high proportion of Gen Z expect to change their job in the next two years. It varies significantly between industries and averages between 40-50%. This is usually taken as either restlessness, or always seeking a better offer. Both of these can be true. It is also true that when the pandemic hit there was a lot of ‘last in, first out’, and Gen Z was hit the hardest. An expectation that they will leave does not mean it came through their choice.

Young staff also need to see that you are interested in their initial experience and where expectation did not meet reality. If they find one unpleasant surprise after another, then word will spread quickly including to your next set of potential recruits. Websites such as Glassdoor, which describe employees’ experiences in their organisation, are key sources of information.

Gen Z needs to see that you take and act upon feedback from your employees, not least because they assume you want to improve as an organisation. And if you don’t, why would they stay?

Every organisation has vulnerabilities in times of rapid change. Sharing them not only generates trust, but can also provide opportunities for your youngest employees to collaborate in dealing with them. This is a generation that expects to contribute.

Organisations often have wonderful stories to tell. Those who tell them well, and are clear and genuine about both their values and what their future holds, will be in a strong position to engage Gen Z.

For more information on Alex’s speaking work please visit his webpage or email us at enquiries@scampspeakers.co.uk


We have worked with Matthew for many years and will continue to do so. His knowledge of the Speaker Market and ability to interpret our clients requirements is quite exceptional.

He is incredibly thorough in his approach and always goes that extra mile to ensure everything is exactly as required.

I am always happy working with Matthew, he has great credibility, he is very diverse in his ability to make things happen.

Matthew Fisher and I have worked together for many number of years. I have always found Matt to be honest, good natured and willing to work hard always carefully selecting the best appearances to suit my personality and lifestyle. The work Matthew has delivered for me over the years has varied from schools, colleges, attending film premiers, guest speaking  to name a few all of which I have lots of memories and thoroughly enjoyed.