While this article explores employer branding for Generation Z in a "Scandinavian context," we think it raises some interesting points that should be of value to HR and recruiting professionals around the world. -- ed. note.
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What Is Generation Z?
Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration, is composed of those born between the mid-1990s and today. The generation's defining feature is its Internet usage. The iGeneration grew up with the Web. Their social lives are highly integrated with social media platforms, and they are "first movers" when it comes to technology. Generally, they are among the first to adopt new social platforms. Their interests decline quickly when new options pop up. Though they often feel inspired by having access to multiple channels at one, the downside is that this very same access sometimes makes them feel insecure.
Employer Branding for the iGeneration
The iGeneration's general character traits have a significant impact on how organizations should carry out their employer branding strategies. To reach this generational cohort, you will have to push your branding via several channels. You'll also need to push your branding steadily over long periods of time -- perhaps even for up to a full year before making a hire. As a result, your employer branding budget will probably have to increase in order to support the intensive strategies you'll need to attract the best talent of Gen. Z to your company.
Employer branding strategies will also have to target younger and younger candidates, especially in business niches that have a hard time attracting talent. For example, in Denmark, we are facing a lack of engineers and specialists, so companies have begun to reach out to college campuses and even high schools in order to fill these roles. And these companies are not simply visiting schools once or twice: Many are trying to set up long-term mentorship programs.
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Employer Branding in a Scandinavian Context
The Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede has described national and regional cultures along six dimensions. For example, one dimension is "masculinity." According to Hofstede's analysis, the U.S. ranks high on the masculinity index, making it a relatively competitive and materialistic society. Scandinavia, on the other hand, is characterized as very "feminine." That means that in Scandinavia, collaboration and conversation are more important. Employers ask for and value their employees' opinions. Instead of claiming credit for an intern's idea, managers in Scandinavia are not afraid of making sure the interns get the limelight.
This relates to the iGeneration in that the members of this generation see influence and impact on important issues in the company as essential -- even more essential than their paychecks. If you manage to build a culture where employees really have a say, you'll retain Gen. Z workers for many years, lowering turnover and saving money.
That money you save should go to employer branding that promotes the mission and vision of the company to keep the iGeneration candidates coming.
Another dimension of Hofstede's analysis is "individualism" versus "collectivism." Scandinavia is about 20 percent less individualistic than the U.S., according to Hofstede. In other words, Scandinavia is a collectivist region. One can see this in our social welfare system, which is very group-oriented. Most Danes acknowledge the important of paying high tax rates in exchange for our hospitals, education system, and services for our retirees. In Denmark, you even get a kind of government stipend while studying.
However, the Generation Z of Scandinavia is more competitive and individual-oriented than previous Scandinavian generations. In part, this may be because the Danish government has been motivating college students to speed up the fulfillment of their studies.
Because of all this, Generation Z will further change the way we do employer branding and onboarding in Scandinavia. The "feminine" culture makes it okay to share your opinion and discuss alternative options, and Generation Z demands to be hard from day one. That's because self-realization is important to them. Employer branding and new employee onboarding strategies need to support the iGeneration's need for self-realization.
This means employer branding for Gen. Z should communicate how an organization will value and implement the ideas of new hires from day one. This can be done via job posts, social media, school visits, etc. It is also essential to mention that onboarding should start the day the employee accepts the offer and signs the contract -- not the first day they come to the office.
Generation Z is online all the time and communicates via multiple platforms. They are happy to share, which means you can boost your branding by asking for their opinions and input as soon as you can and as often as possible. Don't wait for the iGeneration to show up in your office. Start now.