A meeting of the minds is a good place to start when trying to attract future workers into your company. But that is often harder than it sounds given that many times the desires of the workers aren’t aligned with a company’s culture. And it’s not a matter of ignoring the needs of the other, but more likely a matter of not knowing what is important to the other.
A good example is data from Tallo, a talent development platform, which examined the needs and wants of the youngest generation of workers, referred to as Gen Z. (In an attempt to stop the practice of labeling an entire generation with specific characteristics, we will use the term youngest workers.) Their recent survey showed that 78% of this group expects their future employer to offer employee resource groups (ERG). And yet 35% of the companies that they are working for do not have these groups.
“This is a disconnect between the next wave of workers and the companies hoping to hire them,” explains Casey Welch, CEO of Tallo. “It’s hard to attract this generation of workers who truly want to make long-term commitments to companies, but choose very carefully about where to work, if companies don’t know what motives them,” says Welch. “This group can be described as role hoppers, not job hoppers. They are loyal and on average will stay at jobs longer than Millennials, but they want to find meaningful work and grow within the company.”
When Does Talent Decide Top Employers?
This generation wants a workplace that resonates with them. While those in high school and even college might not know the term ERG, what they do know is they want to join groups at work and especially groups that reflect their values. Their top three choices for groups were diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), people of color and women.
“It’s not surprising that DE&I is so important to this group as it’s the most culturally and ethnically diverse workforce this country has ever seen,” explains Welch. There are also other factors that play into the focus in this area, says Welch. This group is coming to age when DE&I issues are in the media every day. And data from Tallo’s survey found that 48% have either personal experience or have friends who have felt discriminated against in the workplace. And that number has moved in the wrong direction as Tallo's 2020 study reported this number at 44%.
“But the good news is that this group wants to be part of the solution to fix these problems,” says Welch. “In fact, our study showed that 86% reported planning on participating in a DE&I committee, or contributing to the organization’s strategy. Consequently, when they find the workplace that offers these opportunities, companies see higher retention.”
Right Time to Connect?
Sourcing this talent is another matter. Tallo has a community of 1.5 million people, who use the platform to showcase both their current skills and perhaps more importantly, says Welch, express what they would like to do. On the other side of the platform are 27,000 high schools, 4,000 colleges, hundreds of companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Cummins, Wal-Mart and many others.
In order to help these sides connect, Tallo has surveyed the talent pool to see how and when they make employment decisions. An interesting data point is that by the time a student is in high school over 50% have already identified potential employers. By the time they are a sophomore in college, 75% have made that decision. And in their senior year, only 6% are making that decision. Traditionally most companies are first contacting potential talent in their senior, too late given these numbers.
In fact, 74% of those surveyed indicated that they would be more inclined to work for an employer if they connected with them prior to looking for a job.
How to Connect
How to connect is the key question. Many companies are now starting to present themselves at the high school level with internships or in college with apprenticeship programs. “Those programs are very successful, but companies don’t need to have a formal program to connect early with the talent pool. And our study shows that 85% of these younger workers expect companies to reach out to them even if they don’t have a specific opportunity.”
So what to reach out with? Lockheed Martin had a great idea. As they were unable to do the traditional job fair in 2020, they turned to an online presentation to showcase the company. This included a tour of three facilities, presentations from the CEO, CFO, and other seasoned executives, as well as interns and apprentices. Over 3,000 people attended. From these attendees, which have on their profiles their job aspirations and preferred locations, Lockheed has a foundation upon which it can connect to this pipeline.
Using Best Practices
To help companies begin the journey of creating new ways to connect, Tallo helps them understand where the gaps are in terms of what information or programs they should have that would interest this workforce.
“Especially in manufacturing, companies are so good at product development and process improvement and should apply that expertise to their talent development,” says Welch. “We advise companies to be very transparent. Potential candidates have many resources to vet a company so companies need to be out there with all of it… the good, the bad, and the ugly. No one is expecting perfection, they just want honesty.”
Sometimes companies are even shy about tooting their own horns. “We advise them to talk about the work they do in the community as that is key to many in this generation. They want to be part of a company that does good,” says Welch.
“At the end of the day you want to attract talent -- not just to fill a job -- but someone who wants to stay and grow with your company. You need to understand how they think, how to they need to be communicated with and what support systems they need to excel. But at the top of that list, your values as a company need to match theirs. “