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Gen Zers not as concerned with PTO as employers think

As Baby Boomers continue to retire and a labor shortage continues to impact industries such as trades and manufacturing, employers are in need of new, young recruits (Gen Zers) to fill these positions. But despite the growing job openings in construction, manufacturing, and related fields, employers continue to face recruiting challenges.

To help shed light on this multifaceted issue, Trades Hub in partnership with BridgeWorks created a survey that asked Gen Zers already committed to pursuing a trades and manufacturing career and employers looking to attract Gen Zers questions about hiring and work expectations in the industry. The results were released in a recruiting report that can be downloaded here. Below are some of the key findings.

The ideal applicant—important characteristics

Gen Zers and employers both agree that “a strong work ethic” (80% and 69%) and “dependability” (50% and 47%) are the two most important characteristics in job applicants. According to Trades Hub, employers should be aware that different generations have different definitions of “a strong work ethic.” Understanding this will help employers better connect with Gen Zers as they enter the workforce. “Gen Z has an industrious mindset but wants clear expectations for how to complete tasks. Some groups may interpret this as needy or lazy, but Zers just want to make sure they get the job done right the first time.”

The ideal applicant—important skills/abilities

While Gen Zers and employers have a unified understanding that communication skills and critical thinking are the top skills and abilities for ideal applicants, there were notable differences in their rankings of the importance of cross-training and possessing technical skills. “While 7% of Gen Z thought employers prioritized the ability to be crosstrained, 34% of employers actually indicated it to be most valuable. Employers need talent that can flexibly navigate and learn new skills, but Zers aren’t getting the memo.” To help Gen Zers understand the importance of crosstraining, Trades Hub encourages employers to make their expectations and provisions clear. Regarding technical competencies, employers ranked the importance of possessing these skills twice as high as Gen Zers, which lets employers know more messaging around the value and satisfaction of technical skills is needed.

The ideal job

Employers may think they know what Gen Zers look for in a job, but are they right? The results were split. Employers understand Gen Zers value “opportunities for advancement,” but 38% of employers missed the mark by thinking Gen Zers prioritized paid time off (PTO)—nearly 40% of Gen Z respondents said they care the least about PTO. According to Trades Hub, employers should expect Gen Zers “to approach work with a shrewd mindset. Expect mentalities that more closely match ‘you don’t get paid to not work.’ Their straightforward [Gen] Xer parents are to credit for this.” On the flip side, 57% of employers said “job security” is a least important characteristic to Gen Zers, whereas 40% of Gen Zers ranked it as a preferred job characteristic. “Gen Z is a risk-averse, stability-driven generation; they are very interested in having security in their careers.”

Job performance

While Gen Zers are interested in their job performance, they aren’t interested in meeting with their manager about it as often as employers think. Nearly two-fifths of employers (37%) thought Gen Zers would prefer meeting weekly to discuss their job performance followed by 35% who said monthly, whereas 46% of Gen Zers said they would prefer meeting monthly. Ninety percent of Gen Zers want a workplace mentor to guide them during their first job. “…Zers will expect more focused, purposeful points of connection that give them ample space to get work done. To provide that extra dose of security and confidence…Gen Z talent wants a workplace mentor that can further equip them to succeed in their careers…”

Noting the differences between generations and what attracts and motivates talent will help employers fill their workforce needs and help connect young employees with key industries that form the backbone of our state’s economy.

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