Posted Date: 03/23/2022
By Rachel Thomas
ARTICLE AT A GLANCE:
Overview of the values of Millennial and Gen Z workers currently in or entering the workforce. How can school districts understand the values of potential employees?
Strategies for recruiting Millennial and Gen Z workers. How can we enhance or shift our messaging and communications strategies to attract Millennial and Gen Z employees?
Recruitment and Retention of Millennial and Gen Z workers will require looking at our hiring practices differently.
Principal EL shared with 2021 KASB Convention attendees that "the best recruitment is retention, and the best retention is recruitment." His sentiment echoes as we look forward to future school years. How can school districts recruit and retain talent to serve our students and communities?
As with anything in life, there are no simple solutions. Attracting employees to work in our organizations will take a comprehensive look at multiple aspects of our business, organizational cultures, and hiring practices with school board members, district and building leadership. This resource focuses on marketing recruitment strategies specifically for Millennial and Gen Z workers. Readers will gain a brief understanding of workforce values for Millennial and Gen Z employees and plan to attract them to professions within education.
Leadership should pair these insights with the recent Kansas Educator Engagement and Retention Survey Results, the district strategic plan, mission, vision and values, and district enrollment trends to begin conversations on current and future workforce needs, including certified and classified positions.
Who are these employees?
It is important to gain a frame of reference for whom we are speaking about when we say Millennials and Gen Z.
Millennials are those born between 1980-1996. This includes anyone currently between the ages of 25-42 years old. Millennials are currently the majority of today's workforce and tend to interact with potential jobs based on the following aspects:
Application process - Millennials apply for jobs most often through referral programs and job boards such as LinkedIn or Indeed.
Mentorships and growth – Many Millennials seek the ability to grow with an employer when applying for a job. Potential roles become attractive if they mention paired mentors to help reach goals or a growth opportunity process in place.
Millennials are digital natives – they are comfortable with technology and value digital-first approaches in employment scenarios.
Flexibility – Work-life balance is key for this generation. They value the ability to come home and leave work at work, spend time with loved ones or families, and seek benefits like dog-friendly offices, gig and remote work.
Research ability – Get ready to work on your digital footprint because this generation does their research! Millennials will Google search your district and reach out to former or current employees they may know to learn more about your organizational culture, resources, and mission and vision.
Gen Z includes those born between 1997-2015, meaning those between the ages of 6-24 years old. This not only includes individuals currently entering the workforce but all our current students. Gen Z seeks employment in the following aspects:
Application process – Welcome back to hiring events! This generation often seeks opportunities at easy and accessible hiring events with clear and simple employer messaging. Gen Z applies for jobs most often through referral programs and hiring events.
Mentorships and growth – Similar to Millennials, Gen Z looks for opportunities that emphasize learning, growth, and mentorship.
Technology is more important – In fact, 54% of Gen Z professionals indicated they would not apply to a position if they thought your recruitment methods are outdated. Gen Z values the ability to apply from anywhere, even their smartphone.
Flexibility – Gen Z craves variety and opportunities that can evolve and change while maintaining an emphasis on their ability to go home at the end of the day.
Research ability – Your district website is key for attracting Gen Z employees. Easy-to-navigate and simple webpages displaying their mission, vision and brand matter to potential Gen Z candidates.
How can we attract Millennial and Gen Z employees?
Now that we understand the generational values of both segments let's shift to how school districts and educational organizations can attract employees from both generations.
Application Process – Both generations need clear, concise messaging from a strong brand to carry throughout application materials and the hiring process. Job descriptions should be specific and include your organizations' values. These same values should be on display in your handouts and giveaways at hiring events or on your job board profiles.
Create an employee referral program. Your best advocates are engaged employees who want to make their school a better place. Consider adding rewards or an incentive for current employees to refer others to your district.
Be intentional about your swag. It's great to have something with your logo on it for a hiring event, but it's even better if the item can reflect your institution beyond a logo and minimize waste. Remember, your brand is more than your logo. Consider its usefulness, how it can tie back to your school district, and the potential to leave an impression. What if your leave-behinds were made in one of your classrooms? Think about the conversation that could start with a potential employee!
Think beyond listing job duties in your job descriptions. What can you say about your districts' mission in the job description? What will the position look like in the first 30, 60 or 90 days in the role? These are all important questions to consider when crafting your job descriptions.
*BONUS TIP – If you know of a teacher or staff member retiring next year, ask the current students to write what they want for next year's teacher. This is an excellent writing assignment for students and demonstrates your commitment to student success for job seekers.
Mentorships and growth – Clearly communicated growth opportunities are key factors for individuals within these generations.
Consider adding grow your own programs to your curriculum offerings. Remember when we mentioned earlier that your students are in Gen Z? How we talk about and treat our staff in schools creates an impression of the profession for future employees. Going the extra mile to show what it is like to enter the profession allows the students to gain experience and technical skills to benefit them in any employment. Make sure to photograph or video the students in action and post to social media and your website to organically share the program and paint a picture for those job seekers during their internet research.
Create a webpage describing the different mentorship and growth opportunities for different positions in your school district and link this in your job description. Be sure to include photos and videos showing the positive impact for those who take advantage of these opportunities.
Involve your retirees in the work! Recruit retired teachers to be mentors to new teachers or teachers in the district to create connections and opportunities for current retirees to stay connected. This can also help your referral and word-of-mouth employment opportunities.
Technology – Are your job descriptions, application processes and school district website mobile friendly? Be sure to analyze your application process from start to finish and look for opportunities to enhance your use of technology.
Was there a part of you that read the above description and panicked slightly at the thought of your digital footprint? If this is you, don't fret! As you take the time to add technology to your hiring processes be sure to document on your website or social media pages! This shows a continuous effort and dedication to improving your use of technology for potential job seekers.
Test it out with current staff members. Have trusted staff in the positions you are applying for go through the application process and give feedback on the technological aspects of the application and interview processes. This is another fantastic way to increase the likelihood of these staff members referring others to your positions.
Flexibility – What can a flexible work environment look like for your school district? When discussing your hiring needs, think through what flexibility can look like for each position and what makes your organization unique.
Choose two or three aspects of flexibility to highlight throughout the year. Post about them on your social media channels with photos or videos, write stories about them in your newsletter and highlight them in your handouts for hiring events and on your website.
Pro-tip: Identify two or three keywords to consistently use when speaking about these flexibility opportunities and use them whenever you talk about them online. These keywords can become associated with your organization when individuals search on Google.
Research ability – Be concise, intentional and consistent in your messaging across digital and traditional media. Potential employees will look you up online to learn more about your organization.
Conduct a brand and culture audit to help inform what exactly your organizations' public-facing entities communicate. Outcomes from this audit can inform educational entities what impressions their brand leaves with potential job seekers and your community at-large.
Create a Google My Business page. Review the information on the pre-populated page and consider uploading images to your page. This will increase the number of images that populate when others search for your school, district or organization.
Claim your social media handles. Even if you do not plan to post on social media, claiming your pages allows your name to redirect to appropriate communication channels, prevent others from assuming your name and boost your position when individuals search your name online.
Consider a proactive media relations strategy which includes pitching positive stories focused on student success. This can help organizations populate their "news" tab when individuals search online.
Where do I start?
Begin with a conversation involving your board members, district and building administrators. You won't be able to change everything overnight, but you will be able to prioritize practices that retain current staff, recruit top talent and match your community's mission, vision and values. This work will take a shared commitment to do some things differently and walk together united in a purpose.
The best way to attract employees includes simple and consistent work. So, pick one thing from this list that your school district can do starting this Spring and begin!