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May 18, 2021

Four Gen Z talent insights to know ahead of summer

Many college students are gearing up to start their summer internships. As vaccination rates continue to climb and some offices begin to re-open, many students are heading into their first in-person work experiences and will soon be navigating travel, COVID-19 safety procedures, and hybrid work options — all aspects of the new normal.

At Veris Insights, the student voice drives much of our research; every month, we conduct a Student Pulse survey and distill key early talent insights for our members. Last month, we surveyed hundreds of students from 80+ universities to gain a real-time understanding of their preferences and priorities for this summer.

Here’s what you need to know from our latest Student Pulse.

(1) Students prioritize safety — and that means immunity.

Requiring employees to show proof of vaccination before returning to work increases employer appeal for three out of four students, and that number has continued to climb each month since February 2021. Students consistently prefer that employers require some form of proof, rather than allowing employees to affirm their vaccination status without proof, per an “honor code.”

In line with this, a high vaccination rate among employees is a top-three safety concern for students, alongside regular cleaning services and freely available hand sanitizer or cleaning supplies. 

At the same time, the percent of students placing importance on mask mandates, regular testing, daily temperature checks, and reduced office capacity has decreased significantly over the past three months.

(2) Students are increasingly comfortable traveling to an office.

72% of students are comfortable traveling to an office for an internship or full-time role this summer — nearly a 30% jump from January 2021. 

While the majority of students would travel to an office space, this trend does not apply to all aspects of travel; in April 2021, only around half of students said they were comfortable traveling to in-person client sites or using public transportation to commute to work.

(3) Flexible remote work is the future for students.

A flexible work option that allows employees to work from either the office or remotely continues to lead the pack for student work preferences. 79% of students say flexible options increase employer appeal.

While students want the ability to work remotely, most prefer to also have some in-person option; only 21% of students say that having no physical office space increases employer appeal.

(4) DEI remains a top priority.

Over two thirds of students are very concerned about equal justice for racial minorities in the United States, and their employer preferences reflect this. In fact, nearly all (94%) of students consider it at least somewhat important that companies show a commitment to diversity. This pattern has held steady since June 2020, during the height of the racial justice protests in the U.S.

For Gen Z professionals, flexible work and DEI are rapidly emerging as “need-to-haves” in the workplace. Companies today must address these candidate priorities to continue attracting and retaining top talent.

Start acting on candidate insights in real time.

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