Do Job Titles Matter to Gen Z?

Regardless of the sector you work in, a common theme you probably hear these days is frustration with Generation Z.  As we continue to grapple with an incredibly tight labour market –  not enough workers and an abundance of unfilled roles – Gen Z is like the fruit on the vine that is tantalizingly out of reach.  They’re that large group of workers just waiting to be hired, if only you can convince them that yours is the workplace they should choose above all else.

Let’s back the conversation up first and answer, who is Generation Z? Born between 1996 and approximately 2015, this cohort is currently between 8 and 26 years old. If you’re looking for new hires, these candidates are in their late teens to mid-twenties.  

Before the summer flies and September is on your doorstep, how can you persuade new graduates from this group – fresh out of high school, college, or university – to join your team? Does the answer lie in creative job titles? Substantial benefits packages? Flexible work schedules? The answer to all three is “yes” – but with a caveat for what Gen Z desires in the bigger, longer-term picture.

1. Not just another CSR. “Customer service representative” is a common job title aimed at young adults. It connotes entry-level work, where the duties are straightforward without requiring specialized training or licensing. The problem lies in the fact that your CSR advertisement could easily get lost in the sea of other employers looking for a CSR – be it a bank, a rec centre, a restaurant, or one of the thousands of retail stores both brick-and-mortar and online. 

Theme to remember: Members of Gen Z are often referred to as “digital natives” – they grew up with technology in hand from the time they were babies. They have mastered the art of the fast swipe and the click-through. If you challenge yourself to think outside of the box, you could compel a Gen Z’er to stop and actually read your ad for a new “Happiness Hero” or “Head of Customer Wow”. A small win but an important one in the current competition for new talent.

2. Medical, dental, insurance… oh my! Gen Z came of age during the pandemic, which took a massive toll on everyone’s ability to trust friends and neighbours, much less strangers out in public. Milestones – birthdays, graduations, first jobs – were overshadowed and overruled by primary concerns for safety and health. They watched as older members of the workforce left en masse during the Great Resignation or remained to work under the constant strain of mental health concerns and burnout.

Theme to remember: If you find yourself shaking your head and wondering why a young person would not only ask for but require you to offer them “perks” that formerly were only offered to someone who had successfully climbed a proverbial ladder, think again. Gen Z is often referred to as “Generation Sensible” due to their lower levels of alcohol consumption and higher preference for slow living: slowing one’s pace down and rejecting the stressful rush of the daily grind. All of this ties into a big desire of this generation for self-care, stability, and wellness. If you as an employer can offer them a variety of benefits that will support them in leading a healthy and healthful lifestyle, you’ll have aligned yourself with a key value for this cohort in particular.

3. Status: unavailable. “No one wants to work anymore.” Like Atlas holding up the sky, the strain of juggling remote and hybrid work demands while needing your staff for in-person / face time is enough to bring any HR manager to their knees, not even counting the patchwork of requests for time off, vacation days, and personal days.

Theme to remember: Every generation carries the core lessons that they learned in their childhood years into the workforce. Gen Z grew up with more constant communication in their school years than any other generation previously. Report cards were not just letter grades dispensed twice a year: progress reports were and are shared between home and school, and students are encouraged to be an integral part of the learning process through their own self-evaluations. As employees therefore, Gen Z inherently desires the opportunity to talk with you face to face about how they are doing, what their hopes are, and what they need… including time away from you. When combining the value of communication with their desire for work-life balance, you can best help them by engaging in conversations about what time means to them and to you and how you can meet each other in meaningful ways.