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5 Ways Recruiting Gen Z Is Different

As more baby boomers retire and Generation Z takes over, workplace ideas are shifting to meet the new generational preferences, traits and values. Recruiters and health systems must learn to adapt to the expectations of the next generation of healthcare workers to adjust their recruiting methods to attract and retain current and future staff. Learn how recruiting Gen Z healthcare candidates differs from previous generations and how to revamp your recruiting techniques to account for these differences.

The Impending Changing of the Guard

According to Business Insider, Gen Z will overtake millennials (also known as Generation Y), accounting for more than 27% of the workforce by 2026. Similarly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that Gen Z will account for 30% of the U.S. civilian labor force by 2030.

As more baby boomers retire and leave nursing over the next five years, most new acute care staff members will be in the Gen Y or Gen Z cohorts. Across the nation, nurse leaders face serious nurse shortages, which may only worsen if they don’t explore how the upcoming nursing workforce differs. Focusing on engaging and retaining Gen Z nurses and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) may help healthcare facilities begin to stabilize their staff and overcome plaguing shortages.

According to one Yello survey, the most popular college majors among Gen Zers are healthcare, science and psychology/social science. Their top industry choices also include healthcare and social services, making them ideal candidates for recruiting by health systems seeking to overcome their ongoing staff shortages.

Why Understanding Generational Attitudes Matter

The Pew Research Center defines generations as groups born within the same 15-20 years. Per its guidelines, we divide the generations as such: 

  • Baby Boomer Generation: Born 1946-1964
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980
  • Millennials/Generation Y: Born 1981-1996
  • Generation Z: Born 1997-2012

Generational cohorts typically form varying viewpoints based on their experiences regarding world events and shifts in technology, society and economics. While each generation shares common experiences, certain milestones within each time period help shape how members of individual generations view the world.

Generation Z has been dubbed as more open-minded and accepting compared to past generations. Nearly half of Gen Zers are minorities, compared to just 22% among the baby boom generation. They’re digital natives and active social media users, even more so than millennials. Thus, recruiting methods that worked well in the past may not be as effective with the new generation slowly taking over the workforce.

Because nurses and other HCPs from Gen Z have different expectations of employers than previous generations, just being a brand-name medical center isn’t enough to make you an employer of choice for this cohort. In the current highly competitive recruitment landscape, learning how recruiting Gen Z is different can significantly impact a health system’s staffing success.

Based on Pew Research Center’s analysis that different generations view the world differently, it stands to reason that the ideal way to recruit different generations varies. Focusing on Gen Z, we take a deep dive into how recruiting this unique generation differs from what some health systems, recruiters and staffing agencies might be used to.

Here are five differences to keep in mind when recruiting Gen Z healthcare candidates.

1. Members of Gen Z Have Different Priorities

Like Vivian’s Future of Healthcare Work Report 2023, the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z survey indicates that pay isn’t the only thing workers think about. The Deloitte survey polled more than 14,000 Gen Zers from 46 countries and found some of the top reasons Gen Zers chose to work for their current employers included:

  • Good work/life balance with flexible scheduling
  • Learning and development opportunities
  • High salary or other financial benefits
  • Positive workplace culture where employees feel valued
  • Opportunities to grow their careers

Although societal and environmental impact and a diverse and inclusive culture weren’t always among the top priorities when choosing a job, nearly 37% of Gen Zers surveyed said they’d rejected a job or assignment based on their personal ethics. They also play a critical role in Gen Z retention.

Individuals satisfied with their employers’ efforts to create diverse and inclusive environments and societal and environmental impact were more likely to stay with their employers longer. Nurse leaders must be prepared to discuss how they lead nurses to contribute positively to society. Also, their approach to teamwork should focus on diversity and inclusivity to help mitigate job hopping that sometimes occurs among Generation Z.

2. Gen Z Expects Modern Recruiting Methods

As digital natives, Gen Zers don’t remember a world without the internet and smartphones, and they’re seeking employers that take a tech-forward approach to recruiting and hiring. Streamlining tech solutions during recruiting can help your health system attract Gen Z healthcare candidates, as 54% of them say they won’t even apply if your recruiting methods are outdated.

Modernize your recruiting by:

  • Leverage social media to target specific audiences on popular platforms they regularly engage with daily and easily boost healthcare recruiting efforts.

  • Use job board apps from Google Play and Apple Store to simplify the application process with mobile-friendly solutions and allow Gen Zers to search and apply for jobs from anywhere.

  • Move candidates through the pipeline faster with interview scheduling software to significantly decrease this time-consuming part of the hiring process.

  • Consider video interviews for the flexibility to allow Gen Z candidates to connect at more convenient times and still offer the face-to-face communication they desire.

  • Keep Gen Z candidates engaged through customized automated email and text communications.

  • Use chatbots to help candidates complete their applications and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to analyze online applications to expedite the hiring process and candidate evaluation solutions to speed the decision-making process.

By recognizing the importance of tech solutions as one of the inherent differences in this generation, employers can adapt their recruiting and hiring processes to attract this growing worker pool. Tech solutions may also help them retain employees that may frequently job-hop in their attempt to find the ideal employer matching their values and career goals.

3. Gen Z Seeks Diversity, Inclusivity, and Authenticity in Employers

Gen Zers ranked positive culture as its top priority in Microsoft's Work Trend Index Annual Report, so it’s unsurprising that they want to work for companies that take diversity, inclusivity, equity and sustainability seriously. 

Because they’re digital natives, Gen Zers are used to utilizing online tools to learn what people have to say about employers. Thus, employers can’t just say they support diversity, inclusivity, equity and sustainability. They must prove it. Backing up your healthcare company’s claims through actions and real-life examples helps you stand out when recruiting Gen Z nurses and other HCPs. Fostering a diverse workplace culture attractive to Gen Zers helps recruit and retain top talent in this cohort.

Per Yello, 86% of Gen Z job seekers state that a company’s commitment to diversity is vital to whether they accept a job offer. More than two-thirds said they’d hesitate to accept an offer if they didn’t meet any employees from underrepresented groups during the interview process. Post-hire, Gen Zers might seek new employment if they find their employer lacks an authentic commitment to workplace diversity. 

4. Gen Z Expects Expanded Benefits

Salary transparency is crucial to attracting Gen Z applicants during the recruiting process. However, transparency goes further than pay. They also want to know more about the benefits they can expect in a healthcare role. 

In addition to the standard medical insurance, paid time off and retirement savings, Gen Z nurses and HCPs expect employee benefits to include maternity and paternity benefits, student loan repayment and tuition reimbursement. They seek a creative benefits package with options for higher education and meal plans. They also value financial stability and want to know how healthcare organizations will help them achieve this.

Microsoft’s report indicated that Gen Z employees work to live, not live to work and find employers that share their personal values more attractive than others. A positive culture is the baseline. Gen Z employees also prioritize mental health and well-being benefits and a sense of purpose/meaning. Benefits Gen Zers find most important as initiatives to support diversity in the workplace include:

  • Policies that ensure equal pay
  • Maternity and paternity benefits
  • Accommodations for disabled workers
  • Flexible work options
  • Inclusive benefits for employees in same-sex relationships
  • Asking about pronoun preferences
  • Diversity training for employees
  • Mentorship programs for underrepresented groups
5. Be Prepared to Think Outside the Box

Recruiting Gen Z healthcare workers may require thinking outside the box, with various non-traditional strategies to engage this newest generation of talent. Some innovative strategies you may haven’t considered yet but should include:

  • Updating your job descriptions to match Gen Z’s priorities to make your open job postings more appealing to the newest wave of applicants.

  • Ramping up on-campus recruitment by maintaining solid relationships with nursing schools at colleges and universities.

  • Leveling up your employer brand and connecting online with branded articles and virtual events.

  • Improving your career site by modernizing your website and highlighting the most important information to boost the foundation of your recruitment marketing strategies.

  • Personalizing your communication strategy by asking nursing students to join your talent community before applying to create content based on their interests.

  • Learning where and how Gen Zers search for jobs to understand which channels they’re most likely to use and how they build relationships with recruiters.

  • Building an influencer network of current employees to feature a more authentic view of your company’s culture and provide the referrals Gen Z relies on when looking for potential employers.

  • Understanding Gen Z communication preferences to connect with them in their preferred communication channels and enhance messaging and hiring timelines to potentially make the difference between offer acceptance or losing top talent to competitors.

  • Sending frequent updates during the hiring and interviewing processes to let candidates know their status to prevent feelings of being ghosted and cut down on time-to-hire.

  • Taking time to build stronger, more meaningful relationships between potential candidates and recruiters as Gen Z job seekers rank these relationships as critical in whether they accept a job offer.

  • Overcoming job hopping by focusing on benefits that matter most to Gen Z, providing accurate and transparent information, portraying authentic work culture and investing in a strong talent community.

Whether you’re looking for an entry-level healthcare job candidate or a seasoned new hire, understanding generational differences can be vital to your success. Comprehending what makes Generation Z tick may help you increase your success in recruiting this cohort to build a solid staff and retaining this staff for the long haul.

Schedule a demo with Vivian Health to see how we can help you find and recruit Gen Z nurses and HCPs to fill your healthcare facility’s hiring needs.


Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee is Vivian’s Senior Editor & All-Around Wordsmith. As part of the Vivian Health team, she strives to help support the empowerment of nurses and other medical professionals in their pursuits to find top-notch travel, staff, per diem and local contract jobs.

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