The war for talent: attracting the Gen Z workforce

April 28, 2022

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By Michelle Hay, global chief people officer, Mara Petrovsky, SVP colleague experience and Josh Smith, head of global talent management

Among the most talked-about topics in human resources today is the “war for talent.”

Organizations in every sector are struggling to attract and retain employees for critical positions as they feverishly plan for operating in a post-COVID world.

From an employer perspective, the talent landscape is more competitive and complex than ever before. A number of interrelated factors — some, but not all, of which were brought on or intensified by the pandemic — have created a perfect storm for those looking to hire. To name just a few:

  • Increased workforce mobility has led to high levels of departures and turnover; long gone is the expectation that employees will stay in one place for the duration of their careers.
  • Many workers are reconsidering their priorities and attitudes toward work/life balance. In particular, family care needs have sparked a heightened demand for job flexibility and autonomy.
  • The normalizing of remote work arrangements has opened the door to new career opportunities, with knowledge workers now able to explore positions previously outside their commuting range.

Many employers are banking on Gen Z — those born between 1997 and 2012 and the latest generation to enter the workforce — as the answer to their talent challenges. However, the ability to attract and retain Gen Z workers is not a foregone conclusion. With the job market currently favoring the employee, organizations need to be savvy and intentional in their efforts to secure Gen Z talent and stand out from the competition.

What is Gen Z looking for?

Research consistently shows that members of Gen Z want more than “just a job.” Understanding what makes these younger workers tick is critical to attracting and retaining them.

  • Connection: Gen Z workers crave a genuine sense of belonging. Many look to the workplace (whether in-person or remote) as an outlet for meaningful socialization and a welcome break from superficial interactions on social media. They’re also seeking mentorship from managers and other experienced colleagues as they develop their professional skills.
  • Growth: Career potential is top of mind for many Gen Zers. A learning and development culture is important to early-career professionals who want to grow personally and professionally. Beyond formal training programs, many are looking for continuous feedback; regular dialogue on performance will likely be more meaningful to a Gen Z employee than an annual review.
  • Purpose: According to a recent study, Gen Z is the first generation to put purpose above salary. They want to feel good about their work and to use their energy and talents to make the world a better place. To remain competitive in the war for talent, organizations will need to artfully tell their brand stories (and back them up), demonstrate how what they do makes a difference in people’s lives, and connect the work of individual employees to the greater purpose.
  • Values: In a similar vein, Gen Z workers are looking to be part of organizational cultures founded on belief systems that align with their own. The ability to attract and retain young talent is one of many reasons that companies are sharpening their focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) and actively demonstrating authentic commitment to their core values.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI): Gen Z brings greater diversity to the workforce than any generation before them, and they want to know that employers value their uniqueness. They seek to bring their authentic selves to work each day and look for organizations that embrace diverse talent, foster inclusion, and offer everyone fair and equitable opportunities.
  • Caring: The Gen Z workforce wants employers to meet them where they are and to exhibit empathy in their people practices. They’re looking for job benefits that holistically address their physical, mental, professional and financial wellness. They also want managers who are understanding of their demands outside of work and provide the flexibility to accommodate them.
  • Stability: Many Gen Zers are old enough to have experienced the Great Recession of 2008, and they recently witnessed the economic uncertainty brought on by COVID. They value jobs that offer long-term security and sustainability as they work to establish themselves as professionals.

A prime opportunity for our industry

Even before the upheaval of the pandemic and the so-called “Great Resignation,” the insurance and claims industry faced a looming talent crisis. With an aging employee demographic heading toward retirement, a spike in catastrophic events like natural disasters and increasing demand for specialized claim investigations and other services, insurers and industry providers must do more to promote our exciting and enriching career paths and to attract Gen Zers to our many available job opportunities.

The good news is there’s no real barrier preventing insurance industry organizations from fulfilling all of the Gen Z expectations listed above. As an example, we at Sedgwick are driven by our caring counts philosophy to provide a world-class colleague experience centered on connectedness, well-being and growth. These three pillars are at the core of our attraction and retention efforts, particularly among the Gen Z population. Companies that commit themselves to offering a strong employee experience and telling their stories in ways that effectively reach younger candidates have every reason to succeed at attracting members of Gen Z to their workforce.

To learn more about Sedgwick, our caring counts approach and our available career opportunities, visit

Tags: attracting and retaining claims, caring, colleagues, Gen Z, Gen Zers, generation z, Great Resignation, Recruiting, talent, Talent development, Talent gap, View on people, Wellbeing, Work life balance, Workforce, Workforce challenges, Workforce demographics, workforce watch