Remote work likely isn’t going away any time soon. On Monster, candidate searches for “work from home” jobs continue to be #1 on site overall. In fact, predictions show that 36 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025—a 417% increase from pre-pandemic levels.
With Gen Z entering the workforce, a generation that values flexibility, work-life balance, and meaningful work, Monster data suggests they may be one of the biggest drivers behind the shift to remote and flexible work. Just look at the newest cohort of college graduates—according to Monster’s 2023 State of the Graduate report, 73% said they would be more likely to apply for a job if the position allowed them to work remotely from anywhere.
When it comes to attracting this new generation of talent, experts like Marta Abalos Lopez, vice president of people and culture at Hotjar, say employers may need to adapt their recruitment and retention strategies and lean into the idea of flexible work. “Leaders should embrace flexible distributed and remote work, because not only does this increase the talent pool, but it also helps people find better work-life balance,” she says. “Gen Z is also values-focused and that creates an opportunity for organizations to bring in diverse people who can expand on and challenge interests and ideas.”
Here’s why offering flexible and remote working options may be the key to driving Gen Z talent acquisition and retention efforts in 2023.
Remote Work is All Gen Z Knows
For most of Gen Z, remote work is all they know. Many studied or graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic when most schools and businesses were operating remotely and never had the chance to intern or work in an office. Even today, more than three years after the onset of the pandemic, 37% of new grads say they don’t feel like they have enough experience working in person at an office.
“Monster’s 2023 State of the Graduate report demonstrated how Gen Z is changing the workplace as it relates to their expectations for how and where we work,” Abalos Lopez says. “For many Gen Zers, their university years were spent studying remotely, and so the transition to remote work was more natural.” When confronted with the possibility of having to work in person, it’s not surprising, then, that so many would prefer to stay home.
Gen Z and the Importance of Work-Life Balance
As the first fully digital native generation, Gen Z wants work to fit into their lifestyle and not the other way around. According to Monster’s State of the Graduate report, 58% of new grads consider work-life balance to be the most important aspect of a job. Additionally, 49% say a flexible work schedule is most important, while 34% say it’s the ability to work remotely.
“For remote workers, the ability to connect with friends and family, travel internationally, and use work as a means to redefine life brings a new perspective and paradigm shift to the old adage of work-life balance,” Abalos Lopez says. “Workers are empowered to do their best work, no matter where they are and as long as deadlines are met and projects completed, leaders should embrace this type of balance for better employee morale and retention.”
Attracting Gen Z with Flexible and Remote Work
Knowing that Gen Z is more likely to be attracted to companies that offer flexible and remote work options, it’s important to ensure it’s being communicated to candidates. Recruitment and employer branding materials, such as an employer value proposition, career site, job descriptions, and social media, are often great places for employers to promote their flexible and remote work arrangements.
“If a role is 100% remote, consider mentioning this directly in the job title and again at the beginning of the job description, rather than requiring candidates to dig through the posting or website, or even complete a first-round interview to learn more about the role,” says Dr. Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES, founder and career coach of caffeinatedkyle.com. “Additionally, if the role requires candidates to be in the office, either now or potentially in the future, be sure to state this clearly and upfront.”
Patrick Garde, co-founder of digital marketing agency ExaWeb Corporation, says employers can also communicate their remote, hybrid, and flexible work policies by emphasizing work-life balance and incorporating visual representations. He says, “Including images or videos in recruitment materials that depict a diverse workforce engaged in remote or hybrid scenarios helps Gen Z candidates visualize themselves in such an environment.”
Keeping Remote Gen Z Workers Engaged
While remote work is attractive to Gen Z, it can be isolating at times and cause them to miss out on opportunities and experiences they would normally have while working in person. “Gen Z individuals who have mainly worked remotely may miss out on the social interactions and casual conversations that occur in an office setting,” Garde says. “They might not have the same opportunities for in-person collaboration, mentorship, and learning experiences. Additionally, they may not experience the office culture, networking opportunities, and structured professional development programs that can contribute to their growth and career advancement.”
As the youngest generation in the workforce, Gen Z certainly doesn’t want to miss out on opportunities to learn. In fact, 43% of new grads said they would quit a job if they were not given the chance to learn and develop in their position.
“To support remote Gen Z workers in building connections and receiving mentorship, employers can utilize virtual engagements,” Garde says. “This includes implementing virtual mentorship programs, leveraging online collaboration tools, organizing virtual team-building activities, establishing digital communication channels for informal discussions, hosting virtual networking events, and offering online learning opportunities. These measures enable remote Gen Z employees to connect with colleagues, receive guidance, and enhance their professional growth, even in a remote work environment.”
If Gen Z Must Return to the Office
For some employers, working remotely may not work for them. While Gen Z and other employees may not be particularly thrilled to make the commute to work—32% of new grads said they would quit a job if they were required to work at the office—there are some steps employers can take to help ease the transition. Garde says, “Employers can ease the transition to in-person work for Gen Z by implementing a gradual shift, offering flexible work arrangements, and prioritizing clear communication. Additionally, ensuring employee health and safety through necessary safety measures and comfortable workspace is crucial.”