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16 Conversation Starters to Engage Gen Z Candidates

This summer, the workforce will see the entry of nearly 4 million college graduates - mostly in their early 20s and belonging to Generation Z. These graduates are entering a workforce filled with economic fluctuation with no clear-cut rules and structures that employers are still grappling with. The young adults of today value connections and community, but they face the challenge of forging relationships, finding mentors, feeling passionate about their jobs, and building stability, all while being stuck behind screens. 

For Generation Z, fostering community, connections, and a sense of belonging goes beyond simply introducing names and titles at work: it’s essential to connect them through shared interests and attributes. In fact, research shows that employees perform 56% better when they feel like they belong. 

With Gen Z’s affinity for individualism, social engagement, digital savviness, and authenticity, creating strong social connections doesn’t necessarily come easy. Gone are the days when candidates can be dropped into a LinkedIn or Facebook group and expected to engage and converse. One,  Facebook and LinkedIn aren’t where most Gen Z candidates live, and two, connections and community require much more thought and intention than a static group.  In this post, we’ll outline ways to keep Gen Z connected to one another, and provide sample topics you can include in your own keep-warm, post-offer, or nurture strategies!

Ways to facilitate Gen Z connections

Make it buzzy and social 

Creating online communities can be a great first foray into engaging Gen Z early career candidates. Online groups and forums allow Gen Z to connect with each other, share resources, tips & tricks, and engage in one-to-one or one-to-many discussions (hint - make communication reciprocal between your team and candidates!). Making the group buzzy, social, and active is key - no one wants to join a group where they have to be the first one to contribute! In addition, making it feel personal with the ability for candidates to create or add profile pictures, interests/hobbies, and social media links for further connection is key. We know that Gen Z thrives in online community spaces, so take advantage. 

Shameless plug - Abode’s Directory and Forum features provide the capability to manage a digital community directly within the platform. No longer do candidates need to bounce between systems to view tasks and connect with fellow cohort members - everything remains in one, centralized place. Talk about a win-win! 

Host meetups 

Organizing virtual meetups can be helpful in structuring informal information sharing around specific themes, such as work-life balance, professional development, relocation options, or company culture. Virtual events can also help promote familiarity and the ability for candidates to (literally) put faces to names. Group settings can also facilitate collaboration and encourage candidates to share their experiences, challenges, and ideas. Make the possibility of connections easy and accessible, and Gen Z will thrive

Prioritize mentorship 

In addition to being a valuable piece to your business’ success, mentorship is a crucial connection and retention tool. Connecting Gen Z to more seasoned employees can increase their confidence, help them better understand the context in which they work, and provide them with a built-in work buddy. Mentors can act as sounding boards, advisors, provide diverse perspectives, and more. Mentorship programs also create organic opportunities for learning and development. 

16 discussion topics to keep Gen Z engaged 

Teams that bond, communicate, and build relationships are more engaged and perform better. To ensure your team thrives, make sure to carve out dedicated time for employees to socialize and connect while on (and off!) the clock. Below are some topic ideas - both personal and professional - to facilitate connections, collaboration, and community. 

1. Hobbies & interests. Ask about what candidates like to do in their free time. Find common ground and encourage further discussion by asking about favorite pastimes, sports, or creative pursuits.  

2. Job tips & tricks. Share helpful tips and tricks to being a successful professional around time management, prioritization, productivity, organization, and more. 

3. Educational background. Ask about their academic experiences, favorite subjects, and any extracurricular activities they participated (or are currently participating!) in. 

4. Entertainment and pop culture. Discuss favorite movies, TV shows, books, music, or podcasts. 

5. Personal achievements. Encourage candidates to share personal accomplishments they are proud of, such as overcoming a challenge, achieving a long-term goal, or making a difference in their community. 

6. Favorite foods and cuisines. Ask about favorite dishes or restaurants, culinary preferences, or any food-related traditions they enjoy. 

7. Travel experiences. Have candidates share about memorable trips or places they’ve visited, and/or what’s next for their dream destination or vacation spot. 

8. Roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Ensure candidates clearly understand what their role entails, the key performance indicators associated with the role, and best practices for being successful. 

9. Mental health & work-life flexibility. Gen Z tends to be open about mental health and values self-care, so they may be interested in discussing ways to improve work-life balance and manage stress. 

10. Workplace culture. Discuss company culture, values, and ways of creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment. 

11. Inspirational figures. Talk about role models, mentors, or public figures who have influenced their personal or professional lives

12. Local or global issues. Acknowledge recent news stories or events that have affected Gen Z and share your company’s perspectives on these issues. 

13. Adulting 101. Ensure candidates feel comfortable with “adulting 101” topics such as personal finances, insurance jargon, corporate vocabulary and hierarchy, and more. 

14. Career aspirations. Encourage them to talk about their professional goals, what drew them to the company or field, and how they envision their career path. 

15. Volunteering and community involvement. Ask about any volunteer work candidates have done, causes they support, or ways they’ve made a positive impact in their community. 

16. Social events and team building activities. Share information about upcoming events and activities that can help candidates further bond with their teammates. 

Key Takeaways

To ensure new employees feel connected from day one, it’s important to establish a strong bond with their teammates. Investing in the happiness of your new Gen Z employees can help increase their engagement and retention rates, setting them up for future success and your company up for a rock-solid culture.  If you’re unsure whether your new hires are feeling connected, consider scheduling frequent check-ins or surveying your team on engagement, job satisfaction, overall emotional well-being, and intent to stay. 

Remember - the magic happens when we connect on a personal level, beyond job titles. By recognizing each other as humans with unique, interesting lives, stories, interests, and aspirations, we can build stronger and more resilient teams. 

For more insights like these, consider Abode. Abode’s all-in-one platform combines every aspect of your engagement and retention strategies, giving candidates personalized experiences (at scale!) while building the community & connections they're yearning for. Learn more or book a demo with our team here

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