Danielle Ross is 26 years old and lives in a small town upstate New York. She describes herself as artistic and creative. She paints in her spare time, worked as a mermaid for children’s parties, swimming in a tail she made herself.
Ms. Ross, who goes by the LGBTQ, couldn’t imagine working in a job that required her to downplay her identity or her skills, which is why she was thrilled when Legoland New York Resort, an amusement park in Goshen, New York, hired her to be the first woman working in the construction field. Drawing on her artistic side and her desire to promote diversity and inclusion, Ms. Ross has been given ample leeway to use Lego bricks to create miniature cities throughout the park.
“I’ve been building people of all different races, nationalities, religions and any kind of thing I can imagine, because I want everyone to feel represented,” she said. Her miniature characters are blind and plus size. They have artificial legs and wear a burqa. Recently, I created a Hasidic Jew.
Creative freedom made Ms. Ross love her job – that’s the point. In the past year, Legoland New York has joined forces with a growing number of companies working to create an engaging and stimulating environment for younger employees that embraces who they are and where they hope to go. By hiring Generation Z workers — born in the late 1990s and early 2000s — employers aim to harness their energy and creativity and offset an acute labor shortage, with about 11 million job openings in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Last fall, Legoland began allowing employees like Ms. Ross to get piercings, tattoos, and colored hair. A national hospitality company has started experimenting with a four-day work week. Healthcare company GoodRx allows employees to work not only from home but from anywhere in the country, enlisting an outside company to provide on-demand custom offices. Other companies carefully map out career paths for their employees, offering extensive mental health benefits and financial counseling.
The goal is not only to get younger employees to work but also to keep them in their jobs, which is no easy feat. Surveys show that young workers are comfortable changing jobs more frequently than other generations. But thanks to these efforts, many companies have so far avoided the labor shortage experienced by their competitors.
“We currently have over 1,500 employees, and I can say with confidence that at least half of them are Generation Zers,” said Jessica Woodson, Head of Human Resources at Legoland.
At Sage Hospitality Group, which operates more than 100 hotels, restaurants, and bars across the country, 20 percent of employees are members of Generation Z.
“We need that workforce,” said Daniel Del Olmo, the company’s president and CEO of hotel management. “We realize that Gen Zers are looking for different things than other generations, and we’re trying to adapt to that.”
After the pandemic began, the company fully realized that many of its younger employees want a healthy work-life balance. In fact, studies like the one recently conducted by the ADP Research Institute show that many employees will quit if an employer demands that they return to the office full-time.
Sage Hospitality is now piloting a four-day work week in select accommodations for positions that include chef, housekeeper and front desk attendants. These jobs have been the hardest to fill during the pandemic, and they have about 960 vacancies.
Mr. Del Olmo said the four-day work week has been beneficial. “Instead of feeling this negative feeling, I should go to work because I have to make a living,” he said, “and suddenly, I want to go to work because I can integrate it with my life that I love.”
Employees at the company’s main office in Denver are allowed to work remotely at least one day per week, and all employees are allowed to take their dogs to work one day per week.
“A member of the team will take care of the dog if a colleague has to clean a room or show something to a guest,” said Mr. Del Olmo.
Mason Mills, 26, the marketing manager for one of the company’s hotels in Denver, said the pandemic has changed the perspective of her generation.
“We’re starting to see that while a career is so important, so is living the life you’ve been given,” she said. “By allowing dogs in the office, and having a work-from-home schedule to meet some of these needs, it shows that the company is evolving.”
According to Roberta Katz, an anthropologist at Stanford University who studies Generation Z, young people and earlier generations view the workplace very differently.
“American General Zers has, for the most part, known only an internet-connected scientist,” Dr. Katz wrote in an email. Partly because they grew up using collaborative platforms like Wikipedia and GoFundMe, she said, younger employees have come to view work “as something that is no longer a 9-to-5 commitment in the office or in the school room.”
Giving employees that kind of autonomy and flexibility has helped the company close more than one deal, said Andrew Barrett Weiss, director of workplace experience at GoodRx, which offers discounts for prescriptions. GoodRx offers employees the opportunity to not only be completely away but also to have an office wherever they want to travel in the United States.
GoodRx also provides financial advisors to employees. “General Secretary may not have enough money to own an investment account, but they can have it,” Barrett Weiss said. Vocational training and fertility benefits are also offered.
“We’re trying to solve the big problems in healthcare, so we need the more young, vibrant perspectives we can get,” added Mr. Barrett Weiss.
Sydney Brody, 27, an account supervisor at Le CollectiveM, a New York communications agency, was thrilled when the company’s owner told her it would provide employees in July with a home in the Hamptons, where they could bond with each other and with them. clients.
Ms Brody said, “I’ve already been very loyal to the company, but now I’m a fan, why look anywhere else?”
She was also granted membership in Soho House, an exclusive private club, in part as a means of networking. “My company sees what I need as a person,” she said. “They give me the tools to excel personally and professionally.”
Kencko, a subscription food service focused on fruits and vegetables, focuses on mental health. All employees, as well as their family members, get six sessions with a therapist, which is no small advantage considering that hourly rates for these services have gone up to $400 in some parts of the country.
Still other companies are trying to capitalize on younger workers’ desire to grow in their careers. In a LinkedIn survey this year, 40 percent of young workers said they would accept a 5 percent pay cut for working in a position that offered career growth opportunities.
This is why Blank Street Coffee, a chain of 40 coffee shops in the US and England, is making career growth part of its hiring plan, Issam Freiha, CEO, said. It shows employees who want to advance in the company a clear path they can follow.
After Alex Koyuk, a Blanc Street barista in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who has a passion for programming, told her manager that she wanted to be behind the computer, “he mentioned it to senior officials, and they eventually took me to headquarters,” she said. I will be pulled out of the field one day and given an office and a salary.”
Ms. Kuyuk, 27, now treats clients’ emails and reviews as a client success partner. It is also updating the brand application.
For baristas who see their Blank Street job as a side business, the company helps them take their next step. “We use our network of alumni and investors to get people where they want to go,” said Mr. Freiha. “We have one barista on a TV show.”
Blank Street is constantly asking younger baristas what they want. “We have to keep innovating,” Mr. Freiha said. “This generation doesn’t want to work for something old.”