DEI Efforts Continue to Attract Gen Z Workers

The generational divide is continuing to put strain on the workforce.

By Mackenna Moralez, Associate Editor  

Within the next five years, younger Millennials and Gen Z are poised to take over a majority of the workforce as baby boomers reach retirement age. 

There continues to be a generational divide in the workforce, though. Baby Boomers and Gen X have the mindset that Millennials and Gen Z “just don’t want to work,” while the younger folks are struggling to get their older co-workers to embrace new and emerging technologies as old best practices become obsolete. Implementation once had a learning curve, but now modern technologies and strategies are being taught in schools. 

Despite having the skillsets on hand, the facilities management industry is still struggling to recruit and retain Gen Z talent. Signing bonuses and promises of holidays off aren’t as appealing as they once were. These are the young adults that grew up in post-9/11 trauma and have lived through more “once-in-a-lifetime" tragic events that have plagued the United States than one can count on both hands, all before they reached their 20s. Having lived through the COVID-19 pandemic and several social justice movements, Gen Z is taking more into consideration when they apply for jobs. Sure, health insurance and job flexibility are still considered “must-haves” when applying, but they are also deciding whether or not a company’s overall business morals align with their own before they sign on the dotted line.  

According to a survey by Eagle Hill Consulting, a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts are considerably more important to younger generations than ever before. When considering a new job, respondents said it is important that they have colleagues they identify with (63 percent), leaders they identify with (59 percent) and that DEI is a priority for the CEO (52 percent).  

“We are a welcoming group to all employees,” says representatives from the Wisconsin Facilities Management Association (WFMA). “The biggest hurdle we have when speaking of inclusion is that we hire employees based on their experience. Our members are more than willing to offer positions to anyone capable of doing the work. If you’ve ever seen an ad for a Municipal Facilities employee, it is by nature a DEI initiative, we want you. Please keep in mind, it’s based on experience and desire to do the work. We lose multiple applicants to the private sector daily.” 

Professional development and potential job progression plays a major role when considering a new job. According to the survey, career training, relationships for career advice and equitable career advancement are all things Gen Z thinks about before accepting a new position. 

Despite the survey results, the WFMA believes that wage increases aren’t necessarily enough to keep the younger generation interested in positions.  

“Counties have done wage studies, which increased our employees’ wages,” the association says. “While this helped retain our current employees, we are finding that the typical eight-hour workday is not something they [younger employees] want. Our workload is diverse and critical to the infrastructure. The work requires a physical presence, on site and when needed.” 

Still, a diverse workforce can bring diversity of thought, which could have an overall positive impact on company culture and performance outcomes.  

“Having a truly diverse team that interacts with each other in a positive manner would be the perfect key performance indicator,” the association says. “Just having their perspective shared in our team meetings would allow all our employees the opportunity to grow and learn. The hope is that once they see they’re respected and a part of the team, maybe word will spread, and our pool of applicants would increase.” 

Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor for the facilities market.  

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  posted on 12/11/2023   Article Use Policy

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