Just when we thought we had mastered working with “millennial” employees, now we need to think about the how to best work with the next generation entering the workforce, “Generation Z”! We better do it quickly however because they are entering the workforce soon and they bring with them a whole new set of ideals.
For some “baby boomers” and “Generation Xers”, who haven’t quite reached retirement or who have decided to reinvent themselves and not retire just yet, learning to work and communicate with the generations that have come after them can be a challenge if you see these generations as without value.
Let’s face the facts here, we still have “baby boomers”, “Xers”, “millennials” and even a few “traditionals” still in the workforce. In my mind, that’s a beautiful thing because of the diversity, however, it can be a challenge when we don’t clearly understand each generations’ style of working and communicating. For instance, “Baby Boomers” and “Generation X” may see “millennials” as entitled, having a poor work ethic and easily distracted. On the flip side, however, “millennials” see “generation Z” as lazy, but open-minded and creative. The point here is that what we perceive is not necessarily the reality. However, reflecting on the qualities of each generation and teaching each generation how to better understand and communicate with one another, while utilizing the unique talents of each where needed to effectively grow people and businesses is essential
Time is ticking on however, and “generation Z”, some of who are currently between the ages of 16 and 20 years of age should be our primary focus now because they seem to be the answer to the unanswered prayers of businesses world-wide.
A study conducted by Randstad U.S. and Millennial Branding noted that Gen Z are more entrepreneurial and less focused on money (for the time being), and while a traditional office space may be preferable to some Zers, an alternative space independent of the employer (say for instance home) may also be a fit as well. So the benefit here to some employers may be a reduction in overhead as more Zers work from home and have a higher rate of commitment to driving positive business results because of the flexibility.
The Randstadt/Millennial study compared workplace expectations between Gen Y and Gen Z, and identified that there are several other ways Gen Z would impact workplace dynamics in the very near future. Here are the top five top every employer should know about working with Gen Z.
1.Honesty – They crave honesty and believe that honesty is the most important quality in a leader. They seek leaders who demonstrate strong integrity and provide a clear vision for an organization. Unlike previous generations, Gen Z see leadership as a privilege. This means that they have an expectation that their managers and supervisors provide their honesty and integrity before than can be won over.
2.Entrepreneurial – Generation Z exhibits more of an entrepreneurial spirit than their predecessors, but this doesn’t mean that they all want to start their own businesses. Gen Zers are focused on driving results and seeing purpose in the work that they do. In other words, they want to connect the dots between the tasks they have been asked to perform and know the benefit it will have on the company and the bottom-line. This is a generation that is willing to work harder than previous generations, but employers need to be consistent in showing how their contributions matter.
3.Face-to-Face Talks – Now this is something new! Despite Gen Z’s natural fluency in technology, they are more interested in face-to-face communication than their Gen Y counter-parts. Instead of relying on technology, i.e., instant messaging and social media for communication, this generation wants face to face-time. This generation wants to make connections that are more personable. According to the Randstadt/ Millennial study, face-to-face mentoring, coaching, and advisement are going to become more important to this generation, which could mean a shift back to older forms of communication for businesses.
4.More Inclined to work from home – Gen Z don’t want to be confined to a typical 9am to 5pm work week. This generation is immersed in technology all the time, so working in one specific place every day may not work for them. So employers that give them working options, like being able to work from home are ideal for this generation. With this generation, the emphasis is more about the work that they do and less about an office or office space.
5.They know what they want – “Career paths and goals will be established much earlier for Generation Z.” There’s a huge trend of people taking things on earlier in life in order to compete later in life.” The study showed that 50% of high school students are already completing internships and taking advantage of volunteering opportunities in fields they’re interested in. Gen Z also hopes to work fewer jobs than Gen Y — meaning they plan to stay at one company for a significant period of time, instead of bouncing from job to job looking for the perfect fit.”
So how can you prepare your company to attract, connect and communicate with this new breed of employee? Here are some tips:
•See them as valuable and diverse (ethnically, fashionable, technically)
•Talk in images: symbols, pictures, videos, even emojis
•Use social media to attract them
•Communicate and interact more frequently with shorter bursts of content – Do not overwhelm them!
•Talk to them as if they are on your level – because they are. Talk to them about the work like they are adults – you’ll find that they love to talk about politics and global events.
•Get their opinions and include them in high-level decision-making
•Indulge their creativity and sense of entrepreneurialism
•As a leader be humble and willing to share your story.
•Collaborate with them – you’ll find that you will lessen the generational gap
•Use technology to communicate with them – e.g., Live stream, social media channels, etc.
•Ensure that your organization is engaged in philanthropic endeavors – Gen Z are givers and want to make a social and economic impact on communities.
•Feed their curiosity and create opportunities for building expertise – they are self- taught and enjoy learning and teaching others.
•Talk to them about value and help them to see their value in the work that they do and the impact on the world around them.
Generation Z are unique.
If we use these tips and prepare businesses and workforces for what’s to come, we can take a greater position in bridging the great generational divide!