How can we attract Generation Z into care?

When I first heard about the different Generations I was suspicious, it sounded like mass stereotyping. When I heard Simon Sinek blame parents for their role in creating Generation Y I was annoyed. When I saw the work that Health Education England had done on bringing different generations into nursing, it made me think again.

This is the summary found in the Nursing Times summarising the different generations and their characteristics.

We know we need more people working in care, and more young people. Efforts have been focussed on marketing campaigns, both nationally, through the work of Skills for Care, and regionally like Proud to Care South West. The assumption behind them is that people are not aware of how good working in care could be, so sharing stories from workers about their positive experience is a way to change this.

The work HEE has done on different generations suggests it could be more fundamental than that. Different generations are looking for different things from work. It may be that we need to adapt and change instead work in care, as some of pioneering colleagues in health are doing. It may need something much more fundamental than a great marketing campaign. I have been thinking about what this could mean for Wellbeing Teams, and this is the first of a series of blogs looking at the different Generations and care work.

Generation Z

1995 – 2010

This is the future workforce, who are either students or looking for their first job after college.

Neil Eastwood, in Saving Social Care, says there are five groups of people who would not be your usual suspects for social care, but who could be part of the future care workforce. One of these groups are students who need a part time job whilst at college. My two younger daughters are both Generation Z. My youngest, Kate, has a part-time job in retail whilst studying for her A levels. Laura is in her second year at University and also has a part time job. I can see both of them in the description of Generation Z.

This generation stands out as the digital multi-taskers. They keep up to date with technology and leave the other generations standing. They expected to be constantly connected and in touch.

They cannot be made to ‘force fit’ into a traditional work environment. They get frustrated with manual ways of working and want one device with access to everything. Generation Z are self-directed, flexible, and their personal freedom Is non-negotiable. They expect to be kept informed and want to be listened to and acknowledged.

Generation Z students, particularly of courses related to health and social care, could take up part-time roles in home care, but the line about their resistance to be force-fitted into traditional work environments would prove a challenge.

To begin their career in care, we would need to provide:

Flexibility – it is unlikely that being given a work rota a week or two before, with little flexibility would work for Gen Z.

Technology – they will expect a device that they can use at home and work, and to connect digitally with colleagues. The separation that most health and care organisations have between work phones and personal phones will seem archaic to them, particularly as it is likely that any technology provided by work will not be as smart as their personal devices. They will quickly become frustrated with working manually on paper, and having separate copies when everything could be on line.

Connectivity, being Informed and listened to – home care is solitary work. Most people work by themselves, and team meetings may happen every six to eight weeks. This is a huge challenge to attracting Generation X who want to be constantly connected. Gen X will want a way of working where they can be listened to and contribute their ideas. They want more than being consulted on issues now and again, or completing a staff satisfaction questionnaire.

Designing Wellbeing Teams for Generation Z


Starting with technology, we are looking at two possibilities for devices, the first is people being able to use their own device for work, and us contributing to the cost of their data. The other is buying everyone a device that comes as close to their smart phone as we can afford. In our initial pilots for Wellbeing Teams we have been supporting people to use their own phone. This has generally worked well, with a few challenges of running out of data. In the new Wellbeing Teams that we are recruiting in the Autumn will have a choice, to either use their own phone, or have one of ours. Our work requires that we use certain Apps, for example Slack to keep in touch, and Touch Note as one of the options for keeping in touch with families.

We are working with an IT company to go paperless from the beginning, or as far as we can. Care and support plans developed at the initial conversation will be available to the team of three or four people who support the person, and can be updated by phone as well. This challenges us to have our policies and procedures on google docs, however, we are also testing whether having hard copies of the handbook ‘How we work’ is useful.

Connectivity, being Informed and listened to

We use Slack – a business app – to keep connected. This means that as Wellbeing Leader, I can share what I am doing, what is happening and ask for views instantly. It also means that teams can talk to each other, in teams, across the organisation, or individually through direct messaging, at any time.

Wellbeing Workers work in small teams of no more that twelve people, and have a weekly team meeting, for both sharing information, and thinking together and making decisions about issues that emerge as tensions. We use a specific meeting process, developed from Holacracy’s Tactical Meeting structure. It includes a development session, where teams practice their skills (for example, developing outcomes) or focus on their own wellbeing (for example looking in more depth at one of the five ways to wellbeing).


Wellbeing Teams develop their own schedules, and in the team one person has the role of making sure this happens well. In practice, teams spend time at the end of their meeting making sure that schedules for the next couple of weeks work for the people they support, and fit around their personal lives as much as is possible. They can change their schedules directly with the people they support, and update them online, in real time, via their phones.

These ideas are about to be tested as we start recruiting new Wellbeing Teams in the North West. We want to test out the theory too, and there was some twitter interest when I started to tweet about these issues. I am hoping to work with Dr Mark Redmond and colleagues to find out what students, Generation Z at University think of these ideas. We will share what they tell us here.