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Balancing tech and the human touch to attract Gen Z

Jane Clark, Head of Emerging Talent growth at Global talent acquisition and management firm, Alexander Mann Solutions

Unsurprisingly, knowing the secrets to attracting Gen Z talent is at the top of most recruitment and HR leaders’ agendas right now. This valuable talent pool, in combination with millennials, will form the majority of the workforce by 2030. Knowing the key differences in motivators and expectations of these generations compared to the preceding ones will allow businesses to attract and retain their best talent. What once worked for Generation X no longer applies to millennials or Generation Z, and business leaders need to understand what makes graduates tick and adapt accordingly.

There are a number of stereotypes attached to these individuals, and when it comes to the recruitment process, many believe that increased tech will easily win them over. However, as we highlighted in our new whitepaper, Early careers recruitment: What are the opportunities from digitalisation, STEM and Diversity & Inclusion?, harnessing an approach that is high tech and high touch is just as important.

A focus on digitalisation

Rapid advancements in technology, and the widespread use of software and data, has transformed the recruitment sector. We are now moving towards a CV-less society, with candidate’s experience and backgrounds now available online. Hiring managers can also examine an applicants’ capabilities through online testing, and introductions are happening through video interviews rather than in face to face meetings. All of these elements, plus the various other processes that have now been digitalised have helped create a more streamlined and efficient service.

It is now widely accepted that having a recruitment process that is modern and tech-driven is crucial for attracting candidates globally. Emerging talent in particular expect their job searching to mirror their lives as consumers. With shoppers able to buy items online and receive them at their door the very same day, or track taxis and book holidays using their mobiles, it is expected that finding a job should be of similar ease too. This is especially the case for Gen Z, who have been brought up with technology integrated into almost every aspect of their lives.

According to a 2019 survey by B2B ratings and review platform, Clutch, over half of recent hires (55%) found their job via online and social media channels, including Instagram and Facebook. This shows how crucial it is that firms have a digital approach to hiring and keep up with the changes that arise from the constant evolution and advances in technology.

Gen Z want a human touch in the hiring process

While digitalisation can certainly help access talent and streamline the recruitment process, businesses need to ensure they are appropriately utilising digital technologies and balancing this with the human touch. If recruitment processes lack the personal element, and over rely on tech, it can potentially negatively impact the company culture and diversity.

Despite candidates now expecting a hiring process which has been enhanced through digitalisation, 78% in the 16-34 age bracket still prefer face-to-face or telephone interaction with a member of staff. Only 3% didn’t consider talking to someone as being important.

With highly-skilled candidates likely receiving multiple offers from employers, meeting in person and having meaningful engagements can have a lasting impression and increase the chances of an individual accepting the job.

Managing bias

According to Pew Research Centre, Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation so far in history, with 48% of Gen Z being non-white in the US for example. Given this fact, it’s unsurprising that Gen Z is a generation that cares greatly about racial equality and cognitive diversity. Research from the WEF found that 72% stated that D&I is the most critical issue today.

In recent years, technology has been leveraged to boost diversity and inclusion, however, this must be managed carefully. For example, gamification is becoming increasingly popular to identify top talent, however, if not managed correctly, this can exclude certain groups and nurture bias.

Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of the US online recruitment portal, WayUp, found that, “something like 55% of candidates that were applying were women. But only 40% of candidates who were completing and passing the gamification were women. Gamification can be great when it’s deployed properly. But many of the instances that we actually hear about will often either favour certain demographic groups, or hurt the company’s overall hiring initiatives.”

There’s no doubt that having a digital transformation strategy in place will impact performance and improve the candidate experience. However, employers must be cautious of how these are used. The human touch can’t be replaced with digitalisation, but only enhanced. There must be a clear process in place that ensures that corporate objectives tie in with business goals and that new technology is piloted before being implemented.

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