How to hire (and retain) Gen Z talent

As a new generation of IT talent emerges, corporate leaders should examine business practices that embrace new ideas and expectations. Consider this expert advice
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Throughout my career, I’ve had the good fortune to work with IT professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Some come from other countries, others have had different types of training and education.

We’re now in an era that includes digital natives who grew up surrounded by new forms of technology that permeated their daily lives. Throw into that mix a global pandemic, which required full-time schooling and working from home, and the growth of cloud computing and newly designed enterprise applications. The landscape of IT experts has become entirely new.

For IT leaders, it is critical to have a vision for the IT world of tomorrow. To meet the needs of today’s IT departments, CIOs should work with HR leaders to identify what technical skills are needed to support a modern enterprise, how to manage an increasingly remote workforce, and what Gen Z is looking for when it comes to employment.

IT talent: 3 tips for hiring and retaining Gen Z

To cultivate a team of IT professionals that meets the needs of today’s world and tomorrow’s, here are three tips.

1. Focus on the technical skills of tomorrow

To lay the foundation for future success, begin by having a vision for the future of IT. Years ago, who would have thought that enterprise applications would be delivered via the cloud? As technologies evolve and the business landscape shifts, it’s imperative that your IT team includes a combination of data scientists, security experts, and cloud and virtualization specialists, among others.

With so many companies undergoing digital transformation, IT leaders must build teams that understand the interconnectivity between disparate systems. Similarly, visionary and analytical experts who understand how to unlock data silos, build systems, and implement business processes that leverage the power of this data will help companies come out ahead.

2. Embrace the dynamics of a hybrid workforce

The global pandemic has forever changed the way we work. The remote work model has been successful, and we’ve learned that productivity does not necessarily decrease when managers and their team members are not physically together. This has been a boon for Gen Z – a generation that grew up surrounded by technology.

Creating an environment that gives IT employees the flexibility to conduct their work remotely has opened the door to a truly global workforce. Combined with the advances in digital technologies, we’ve seen a rapid and seamless transition in how employment is viewed.

Creating an environment that gives IT employees the flexibility to conduct their work remotely has opened the door to a truly global workforce.

Digital transformation has leveled the playing field for many companies by changing requirements around where employees need to work. Innovative new technologies, from videoconferencing to IoT, have shifted the focus from an employee’s location to their ability. Because accessing information and managing vast computer networks can be done remotely, the location of workers has become a minor issue.

[ Also read 4 tips to help retain IT talent. ]

One caveat: CIOs need to continue strengthening security systems. We all see the daily headlines about security breaches, which impact an organization’s reputation as well as its finances. IT leaders must constantly consider new vulnerabilities and develop strategies to keep their networks safe.

3. Adapt to the evolving priorities of Gen Z

Building teams that include people from different countries and with different educational backgrounds can be challenging. When candidates also have different motivators behind employment, it adds another level of complexity to the hiring process.

Gen Z has come of age at a time when climate change is altering our world, and making tons of money isn’t necessarily the primary goal of this generation of candidates. Their increased emphasis on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) causes has brought a new awareness of how employees and the companies they represent affect us all.

For example, at Teleperformance, we recognized the need to specifically target the needs, aspirations, and motivations of the Gen Z IT workforce. A recent collaboration with our recruitment teams led to the development of an Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

We worked to develop a simple EVP promoting a definitive identity for IT within our organization. Remote work, a voice at the “innovation table,” open dialog with management, and driving a bigger movement for change are all part of our EVP. Along with traditional propositions around compensation and benefits, it has enabled us to attract talent from some of the world’s biggest technology companies.

One of our key engagement channels for new talent is short-form video. Showing our value proposition through “my typical day,” “cool office environment,” “at-home desk setup,” and “work/play balance” videos have proven to be effective in generating enthusiasm with prospective Gen Z candidates.

Finally, we are encouraging the next appointment of a Millennial executive IT team because having a closer social understanding of Gen Z IT workers is an important strategic move for us.

IT leaders have a seat at the table

In previous generations, the IT department was seen as an isolated group. In today’s fast-paced, Twitterized world, IT leaders have a seat at the table with the other C-suite executives.

To position their organizations for success, today’s CIOs must tap into the views of Gen Z and map their company’s future to the needs of the younger generation. Leveraging the talents and perspective of Gen Z in the IT department will help CIOs chart a better future for their companies and make it easier to adapt to a changing employment landscape.

[ Want more expert insights on leadership, strategy, career development, and more? Download the Ebook: 37 award-winning CIOs share essential IT career advice. ]

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Dev Mudaliar is Teleperformance Global Chief Information Officer. Managing all aspects of IT at a global level, he is responsible for driving digital transformation within IT. Dev has over 28 years of IT experience, 21 of which are in the BPO industry.