Human Resources TikTok Employer Brand

‘Lazy girl jobs’ and viral agencies: Is gen Z changing the rules for employers?


By Sam Anderson, Network Editor

November 27, 2023 | 8 min read

With agencies going viral on TikTok and creator trends taking aim at the world of work, has employer branding shifted in the TikTok generation? We asked leaders from The Drum Network.

A woman's face from an Instagram video, featuring the phrase 'careers are a joke'

How are gen Z work (and anti-work) trends changing the game of employer branding? / Credit: Antiworkgirlboss on Instagram

Gone are the days when an unused ping pong table and half-stocked fridge were enough to entice the best agency workers. That paradigm arguably died when remote work took over, and has been remade over again in the ‘fight for talent’ in the years since.

Recently, some of the most conspicuous shifts in expectations and practices around employment have been taking place on the unruly and sometimes quixotic stage of social media.

These work-related trends run the gamut from the gently insustry-skewering videos of Rob Mayhew to agencies themselves blowing up on TikTok. At the sharp end of this is a rising tide of creators taking aim at ‘hustler culture’ and the way we live our work lives. Instagrammer Gabrielle Judge (aka Antiworkgirlboss) has been chronicling this attitude shift under the rubric of ‘Lazy Girl Jobs’, an anti-hustler ideology that draws on (remember these?) the similar trends of the so-called great resignation, quiet quitting, and parallel movements elsewhere in the world like China’s tang ping trend.

How is this all changing the rules for employers? And how are smart employer-branding experts shifting with the times? We asked some.

Amelia Field, content manager, Brandnation: “Historically, the workplace culture of a business would consist in hushed conversations among employees over some work drinks. Now, gen Z has entered the workforce and has become vocal online about how workplaces operate. This new generation will quickly expose any potential flaws in a business. This has opened the conversation surrounding workplace operations online.

“With videos from users like @MillieT24 sharing days in their lives at Google and other high-power institutions that offer endless benefits, gen Zs come to expect a high level of benefits from employers, including free products, hybrid policies and strict 9-5 hours. Smaller companies are having to try to keep up by offering frequent socials and budget for trips.

“What does this mean for the employer branding game? Several agencies have adopted TikTok accounts posting videos discussing the benefits of the business to draw in TikTok-native gen Z employees with brands such as Buns at Home advertising for jobs on the platform to attract this audience. This content can involve sharing office perks, employee pets and poking fun at traditional ways of working. Business’ ’tone of voice’ docs are being stretched where gen Z employees are managing these channels and, in the attempt to go viral traditional methods of promoting the business are out the window, discussing previously taboo topics.”

Stephen Quinn, chief executive officer, Atomic: “‘We should be on TikTok because that’s where the young people are.’ We hear it all the time. While it makes sense, bringing your heavily controlled brand to a platform that encourages uninhibited authenticity could be a recipe for disaster. Do you really want your employer brand to be the ‘dad at the disco’?

“I’d say save TikTok et al. for ‘authentic’ posts by employees celebrating personal progress – whether it’s giving back, rocking sustainability initiatives, landing a new job, snagging a promotion, or embracing mentorship. Let the posts shout out the employer, but keep them personal, not branded.

“Even better, kick off an ambassador program for gen Z. Encourage and reward people to post their own content and tag the business. That way, the brand gets the exposure it needs, all while basking in the raw authenticity of genuine user-generated content.”

Caitlin Collins, growth marketing director, iCrossing:“To truly resonate with digital natives entering the workforce (and to match the creativity and digital expertise of this industry), exploring emerging social platforms is the future (albeit an added investment). ‘One done well’ is a great starting mantra when weighing up which platforms to engage, to ensure quality over quantity – and because gen Z will see through any half-attempts. This generation seeks purpose and connection, so clever backstage-style content and authentic day-in-the-life vlogs highlighting real growth can be very successful.”

Rachel Poole, senior social media manager, AgencyUK: “Gen Z’s influence on platforms like TikTok has pushed marketing employers to refine their strategies and emphasize short-form and visually engaging content. TikTok serves as a dynamic space for employer branding, brand love and community building, allowing companies to showcase their culture and employee stories to engage authentically in a user-generated way. This demands content to not only promote products and services but also portray the company as an appealing and socially conscious employer, aligning with gen Z values.

“Employers need to leverage platforms like TikTok to humanize their brand, fostering a deeper connection beyond traditional advertising. Having grown up in a digital age, gen Z can recognize inauthenticity within marketing tactics. Transparency, real stories, and a commitment to social and environmental causes and trends appeal to gen Z’s desire for meaningful connections.”

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Human Resources TikTok Employer Brand

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