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Everything You Need to Know About Hiring Gen Z Stylists In Five Minutes

Zoomers have entered the workforce, and they’re rejecting the workaholic hustle culture that came before.

Look out, Millennials — there’s a new generation entering the workforce. Generation Z, the moniker given to those born between 1997 and 2012, makes up 20.3% of the U.S. population and currently comprises about a quarter of the global workforce, a number that’s only going to grow. Meanwhile, there’s a massive generational shift happening between employees and employers, with Zoomers leading the charge — and even the beauty industry isn’t exempt from these changing times.

When recruiting Gen Z stylists, don’t expect methods that worked for previous generations to see the same success. Growing up during a period of economic turmoil and rapidly advancing technology has shaped their worldviews, including how they approach employment. Keep these key tenets in mind if you want to attract young talent to your salon.

1. They know their worth (and don’t work for exposure)

For Millennials and Gen X, low-paying entry-level jobs and unpaid internships were considered unavoidable, but Gen Z is rejecting these norms. Thanks to the Great Resignation, they have more bargaining power than previous generations, and they’re also far more interested in workers’ rights and pay transparency. Whether your stylists are salaried or renting chairs in your salon, expect them to discuss their earnings amongst themselves and negotiate for better rates.

According to Dragos Badea, CEO of Yarooms, “Growing up with the specter of crippling student loan debt from their older siblings, Gen Z is much more likely to put financial reward as a top motivation for choosing a workplace, unlike personal development that was so popular with Millennials.” In other words, pay your stylists what they’re worth and expect them to know their rights in the workplace.

2. Your salon’s values will determine if they work for you

Aside from salary, some of the top factors determining Gen Z employment are a company’s reputation, how it contributes positively to society, whether it’s environmentally responsible, and its commitment to diversity. For Zoomers, DEI (short for diversity, equity, and inclusion) isn’t just a buzzword — it’s a way of life.

According to Alvin D. Tillery Jr., director of the Center for Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University, “This is a generational shift in the belief that these values are really important and foundational to their experiences as workers… If you’re under 35, you expect these conversations, and if you don’t offer them, you’ll have trouble recruiting.” This isn’t something salon owners can avoid discussing, by the way; Gen Z is vocal about their political and social views, and to them, not picking a side is picking a side.

3. Work-life balance and mental health are top priorities

The COVID-19 pandemic put a global focus on the possibilities of more flexible workspaces, as well as the importance of work-life balance and the consequences of burnout. Generation Z was hit especially hard by the pandemic, according to Great Place to Work VP of Data Science Marcus Erb: “It will be a generational touchstone that will shape Gen Z’s perspective on employers long into the future.” In fact, 68% of Zoomers reported negative workplace experiences based on their company’s COVID response.

So how can you win the trust of Gen Z stylists? By remembering that they’re people with lives outside of the salon. Generation Z doesn’t dream of labor, but that doesn’t mean they won’t work just as hard and passionately as their older generational counterparts. In return, they expect to be treated with respect and kindness. As 22-year-old content creator Jade Carson put it, “I think people are realizing that we just want better for ourselves… I want to be in a role where I can grow professionally and personally. I don’t want to be stressed, depressed, or always waiting to clock out.”

4. They’re embracing natural beauty (and Y2K nostalgia)

Gen Z is all about being who you are, whatever that means to you. They’re embracing natural beauty more than other generations while rejecting outdated gender and racial stereotypes. Zoomer stars like Amandla Stenberg and Storm Reid are showing off their natural hair in all of its textured glory, while millions of TikTokers follow the minimalist skincare trend known as “skinimalism.” That doesn’t mean bold looks are history, as any Euphoria viewer can tell you, but Gen Z beauty is more about expressing oneself than dressing and styling for someone else.

One more thing to know about Gen Z beauty trends: They’re obsessed with late-90s and early-aughts styles. It’s true that fashion trends are often cyclical (‘90s kids may remember when the flared jeans and peasant tops of the ‘70s came back into vogue), but there might be something more to the Y2K fixation. “Nostalgia is a refuge,” says psychologist Krystine Batcho. This is a common response to a disruptive economy, something Gen Z is all too familiar with.

5. They’re drawn to high-tech workplaces

To call Generation Z “tech-savvy” is kind of an understatement. Zoomers don’t remember a time before the internet, and many of them grew up with smartphones in their hands. As a result, they embrace technology that makes their lives easier and more entertaining, and they expect their employers to do the same. A 2018 study from Dell found that 80% of Zoomers aspired to work with cutting-edge technology, and a whopping 91% said that technology is a determining factor in their career choices.

While salons might not seem like high-tech environments, there are plenty of ways to use technology to attract Gen Z talent. If your salon is still using slow, inefficient, or analog methods for tasks like scheduling and management, up-and-coming stylists won’t look upon that favorably.

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