What employers need to know about millennials and Gen Z in the workplace

How to Fill Jobs Young Professionals May Not Want - Talent IntelligenceEmployees who are in the early stages of their career sometimes gravitate toward positions because they offer certain personal or professional amenities.

For some, working for a prominent company is important. Young engineers and engineering students, for example, are interested in jobs that offer a creative and dynamic work environment — such as well-known innovators like Space X and Google — while public sector and governmental agency jobs hold less appeal for the age group, according to a recent Universum survey.

In the tech industry, a 2019 CompTIA survey found millennials value jobs in areas that offer a reasonable cost of living, decent commute time and favorable climate. Access to restaurants and bars is one of the top three factors Gen Z employees in the tech field consider when deciding where to live and work.

In today’s tight talent market — 42 percent of millennial and Gen Z managers said in an Upwork survey that hiring was more difficult in 2018 than in previous years  — employers may struggle to fill even the most sought-after positions.

Less desirable roles can, not surprisingly, prove even more challenging. While medical and science-oriented jobs topped the list of fields Gen Z college and high school students anticipate working in, agriculture, aviation and insurance placed lower, with three percent or less of respondents identifying them as options in a 2018 National Society of High School Scholars survey. A separate LinkedIn analysis found millennials were moving away from roles in retail, government and education.

Companies in those industries that are wondering how to attract Generation Z employees and millennial workers may need to consider utilizing recruiting and hiring techniques that are outside of their normal approach. A few possibilities include:

Focusing on features that matter to younger generations

stock-photo-young-handsome-caucasian-wom-1720540-627894-editedWhile only 6 percent of Generation Z members have worked in the hotel and lodging industry, more than half of the respondents in an American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation survey indicated they were interested in a career in the hotel industry. Salary likely isn’t the reason — entry-level hotel managers earn an average of $40,601, according to Payscale data, which is less than half of what Comparably research indicates Gen Z members can make in mobile developer, product manager and other roles.

Young millennial and Gen Z workers who participated in AHLEF’s survey praised other qualities hotel and lodging careers offer — such as being some of the most geographically accessible job options, with opportunities potentially being located closer to where they live than finance, insurance, technology or healthcare jobs. In addition, approximately two-thirds of African American, Latino and Asian millennial and Generation Z members said they believe the hotel industry emphasizes diversity and inclusion in the workplace, according to the survey.

Supporting a grassroots or other PR campaign

The manufacturing industry has faced some recruiting challenges in recent years, including misconceptions about its future, according to a report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, which encouraged industry members to dispel perceptions that might discourage younger generations from entering the field. Less than three in 10 Americans, for instance, said they’d encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career. Only 28 percent emphatically believed manufacturing jobs were stable and provide security that’s relative to jobs in other industries. In actuality, however, tenure within the industry is the highest among all private-sector industries — on average, more than nine years, according to the report.


As the saying goes, knowledge is power; and based on the results of a 2019 Leading2Lean survey of the general population, elevating awareness of an industry seems to be an effective way to encourage interest. The survey found Generation Z is seven percent more likely to consider working in the manufacturing industry than the general population, and 12 percent less likely to view the industry as being in decline — possibly due, researchers say, to the age group having more exposure to the industry than other generations. Nearly a third (32 percent) of Gen Z has family or friends who work in manufacturing, compared to 19 percent of millennials and 15 percent of the overall population.

Offering roles with room to grow

A LinkedIn survey found the most frequent reason millennials leave jobs, regardless of industry, is because the positions lack opportunities for career advancement. While about a third of Gen Z workers measure their success by the manager recognition and co-worker respect they receive, a Kronos survey revealed 35 percent view how quickly they advance at work as a key indicator of success. Employers may benefit from re-examining their current operational structure to see if additional tiers could be added to allow for more frequent promotion cycles that would provide millennial and Gen Z workers with additional responsibilities — potentially giving them exposure to other areas of the organization and allowing them to obtain new skills.

For more information about recruiting and hiring millennial and Gen Z employees, view our blog posts on Generation Z entering the workforce, managing millennials, how to motivate different generations of employees, ways to gain deeper insight into potential candidates’ abilities and why in-person recruiting events could potentially help you find young employees to hire.