Ways to attract Gen Z to the blue-collar world

attract Gen Z

Companies are scrambling for ways to attract Gen Z to the blue-collar world. As the baby boomers retire out of the workforce at a pace of approximately 10,000 per day in the United States, companies that employ blue-collar workforces are facing a bleak reality: the youngest generations aren’t interested in replacing them. This is especially true among Gen Z, those born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s. A recent survey reported that only 14 percent of Gen Z has interest in industrial work as a career, and only 26 percent would consider it even in the short term. For warehousing, trucking and other supply chain management sectors, this is bad news.

It’s not surprising, however. This is the generation that grew up with technology in their hands, and an expectation that most would turn to secondary education after high school. Add in the fact that warehousing is considered one of the most stressful—and also boring—places to work, and employers have a problem on their hands.

To attract Gen Z to the blue-collar aspects of supply chain management, employers must get creative and think beyond traditional incentives. Where sign-on bonuses and productivity incentives used to be enough to make a company competitive, today they are expectations. Warehouses must go above and beyond.

For starters, warehouses using technology have a leg up—Gen Z likes any sort of opportunity to “gamify” the workplace. You can accomplish this in a warehouse with new technology and automation. While baby boomers feared technology and automation would take their jobs, the younger generation welcomes it and enjoys interacting with it. Robotics are an extension of this, too, and when you can provide a work environment with “co-bots” on the floor, you stand to attract younger talent.

Also consider ways to offer upskilling to your workforce. With technology that can take on some of the most mundane tasks in the facility, your Gen Z employees can master software and other tools. This gives them an opportunity to exercise their brains, develop new skills, and be more readily equipped for challenging roles as they move up the ladder.

Flexibility of scheduling is another way to attract Gen Z to the blue-collar world. While good pay is always appreciated, this generation values the work/life balance even more. Allow them opportunities to shift swap, for instance. There are specific labor management tools that can make this easy—if an employee needs time off for a doctor’s appointment, for instance, they need only go into the platform to see if there’s a workmate who might be able to swap shifts on a given day. Generous paid time off, sick leave, benefits, education reimbursement, and vacation time are also appreciated by this generation.

Finally, another barrier to blue-collar work has long been safety concerns. As facilities continue to automate, on-site injuries decrease, so use that to your advantage as a selling point. While Gen Z is wildly different from the baby boomers, with a little creative thinking, you can entice them to take on blue-collar jobs as well.