How to Recruit & Retain Gen Z Employees

The GSX+ session “How to Recruit and Retain Gen Z in Security Organizations” offered an in-depth background on Gen Z and what they’re looking for in employment.

If you’re old enough to be a veteran of the security industry, you are most likely puzzled by Gen Z. Twitch? Tik Tok? Yeet? You probably have no idea what any of those things mean. But if you do, you might earn some serious brownie points with the Gen Z crowd.

Gen Z is unlike any generation that has become before. If you thought Millennials were difficult to understand, you’ll have your hands full with Gen Z. To help security organizations better understand this age group, day one of GSX+ featured a session titled, “How to Recruit and Retain Gen Z in Security Organizations.”

Presenters Angela Osborne PSP,PCI, regional director of Guidepost Solutions, Dr. Jairo Borja, CEO of Borja Consulting Group and Michael Brzozowski CPP,PSP, risk and compliance manager of Symcor, broke down everything you need to know about the generation.

So what exactly is Gen Z? It consists of people born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, consisting of approximately 69 million members in the U.S., which actually outnumbers Millennials.

The one factor that has probably shaped Gen Z the most is the fact that they have grown up with technology. When they were young they didn’t have to wait for their dial-up modem to connect to the Internet in order to check their email. Anything they ever wanted could always be accessed almost instantly.

According to the Huffington Post, Gen Z’ers are 25% more likely than Millennials to say they are addicted to their digital devices and 40% of Gen Z are self-identified digital device addicts.

While older generations can bring value and provide guidance to an organization, younger generations can contribute as well.

“Younger employees can bring a lot of value as well — knowledge of different technology systems, understanding of how different security ideas will be perceived by members of younger generations and in addition enthusiasm and new ideas and thoughts about how we do business so that we can all be successful,” said Osborne.

So how can you attract Gen Z to your organization? The GSX+ session offered these five tips:

Tip #1: Be very clear about your organization’s values

  • Gen Z has been accused of being incurious about others.
  • This creates a potential point of conflict between organizational leaders and entrepreneurs.
  • Send out consistent and clear messaging about what it is your organization or department stands for, even if some of it runs counter to the values of Gen Z.

Tip #2: Don’t apologize for your organization’s values

  • Invite the opportunity to be questioned and challenged.
  • Stress that everyone on the team will always put the needs of the organization ahead of their own concerns.
  • Deliver communications to establish norms.
    • Example: “We have lots of ambitions as to how we can grow this department if we all work together. We’re doing this at a time of political tension. We see it all around us. If we bring our politics to work, our team will face divisions. Let’s commit to focus on what unites us, our mission to protect people, our assets, and information.”

Tip #3: Welcome challengers but screen out oppressors

  • Check applicants’ social media feeds. If they seem unable to compromise online, this is a possible red flag for a lack of social cohesion on a team.
  • Frame the situation:
    • If we want to progress as a team, we have to put the company first.
    • That might mean you leave important parts of you at the door of the office.
    • That’s not to say they’re not important to you, but, when we’re together as a team, we have to give each other the benefit of the doubt.
    • We have to contribute as members of a team to carry out our mission.

Tip #4: Consider Uncertainty & Ambiguities

  • According to an Australian study of 800 respondents, digital-natives are less able to handle uncertainty.
  • The study indicates that, like the computer programs Gen Z was raised on, this group tends to process information in a binary way.
    • Video games allow players to learn patterns and restart if mistakes are made.
    • Siri provides answers to virtually any question.
    • Google Maps is designed to eliminate ambiguity

Tip #5: Valuing the Job

  • According to Deloitte, while salary is the most important factor in deciding on a job, Generation Z values salary less than every other generation.
  • To win over Generation Z, companies and employers will need to highlight their efforts to be good global citizens.
  • Actions speak louder than words: Departments must demonstrate their commitment to a broader set of societal challenges, such as sustainability, climate change, and hunger.

Once you’ve hired your first Gen-Z employee or employees, you must then focus on retaining them. A major factor for retention is personal attention. Deloitte forecasts that Gen Z will demand greater personalization in how they move along their career journey.

So how can you offer personalized attention? The session offered these tips:

  • Consider partnering at the university level to adopt top female talent to attract more women candidates for tech roles.
  • Create latticed career paths and multiple work formats.
  • Set up internal marketplaces to match projects with needed skill sets.
  • Leverage the expertise of Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers to help mentor Gen Z into strong leaders.
  • Consider the attractiveness of the security industry and the reputation of your firm and plan accordingly.

It’s no secret the security industry has difficulty recruiting and retaining talent. Use this guide to prepare for the next workforce generation.

Registered GSX+ users can view the session here. To learn more about GSX+, check out SSI‘s event preview or visit gsx.org.

About the Author

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Steven A. Karantzoulidis is the Web Editor for Security Sales & Integration. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Communication and has a background in Film, A/V and Social Media.

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