Historically speaking, society has a way of stereotyping generations into pigeonholes for the neatness of media reports. In truth; each generation contains a plethora of differences even between themselves, let alone between each other. Businesses will always need to adapt to suit the skills and training needs of a new generation. The newest generation to join the workforce should be no exception to the rule.
But behind the stereotypical tags, there are deeper meanings – and deeper differences. Generation Z are, at least in part, more digitally aware than their predecessors. This isn’t something to be seen as insulting… It is something to be proud of. Our world has become so technologically advanced that most of us don’t understand it anymore… but, in terms of digital evolution, Generation Z has got their figurative fingers on the pulse.
It makes absolute sense that businesses need to start making changes to training programs, adapting communication methods and adjusting to the digital revolution by accommodating these young workers. Logically speaking, the next question is how the modern working world goes about doing it?
Who Are Generation Z?
Before we go any further, let’s establish exactly which age range constitutes ‘Generation Z’. Society has a tendency to confuse them with Millennials, who are actually a slightly older generation. Most Millennials are now in their twenties and thirties while Generation Z represents the younger workforce.
‘According to Dr. Selina Samuels, Generation Z is those born between 1999 and 2005. This generation is the first to enter the workforce having grown up in a post-internet society. They have been exposed to a wider range of technology than their older counterparts. As a result, they are having a direct impact on the way we conduct business on a global scale.
How Gen Z is Impacting the Business World
One only has to mention the name ‘Greta Thunberg’ at the moment to inspire resounding political opinions. For the sake of our argument, let’s use her as an example of how Generation Z is having an impact on the business world. They (as a stereotype) are much more driven towards environmental preservation that any generation that has come before. This massive shift in focus is forcing businesses everywhere to take a different approach to sustainability[i].
Another area where Generation Z are driving change is in the utilization of digital technologies that some of their older counterparts completely fail to grasp. Generation Z’s technological mastery is similar to a child’s ability to learn their own language. They ‘speak’ digital. While the online marketplace was in full swing before, this younger generation is prompting it into overdrive. Given that many of them spend 10 hours+ a day online across different devices – this generation may well be the proverbial nail in the coffin for the bricks and mortar business.
Adapting Training to Accommodate Generation Z
With all of this in mind, integrating Gen Z into the current workforce needs to be a precision move. There are ways in which we can both acclimatize them to the present economy while simultaneously maximizing the potential they bring.
Face-to-Face Staff Meetings
While the Millennial generation likes to communicate online or through screens; Generation Z is showing a growing interest in face-to-face meetings. Research suggests that they prefer a mixture of both digital and in-person management. It seems this demographic has grown using a mixture of both to effectively communicate with the world around them. This is a trend likely to continue into the workplace as the year progresses.
Encourage Team Competition
Generation Z are team players – but they have also grown up in a world where most of their entertainment pits them head-to-head. Generation Z is no stranger to a little friendly competition and is very much driven by a rewards-based program. Keeping this in mind; we can expect them to rise quickly through the ranks. We can also expect them to drive production on the power of attitude alone[ii].
Use Data as a Learning Tool
Since this younger generation is better at interpreting data results than older generations are, business leaders, need to start making space for them in the data processing field. Artificial Intelligence, already in use in a business environment, is going to grow dramatically in the coming years… and Generation Z will be growing alongside it.
This younger generation is able to use data as a personal learning tool in ways that previous generations were unable. They have grown up being able to check any fact they want to on the internet. Their ability to garner information and resources should not be underestimated in a business sense.
Establish the Feedback Loop
The younger generation sees those who act out against injustice as heroes – as our previous example of Greta illustrates. Creating effective feedback loops within workplaces will be a key ingredient in satisfying their need to be heard. For feedback to be effective in the eyes of Gen Z – it must be acted upon. Insincerity is akin to injustice, avoid it at all costs.
This belief that injustice must be acted upon makes Gen Z fantastic at seeking out and implementing new ideas. To make sure your business is successful in the feedback sessions, an accurate data record must be kept.
Micromanagement Will Not Work
Since this generation has been brought up with the belief that the world can be saved; micromanagement will need to say its final goodbyes. Generation Z will not only solve problems, but they are also likely to spot them before they arise. Agile teams will see an increase as goal-focused workplaces start to flourish. A more flexible managerial approach will be needed to ensure everyone feels heard and included[iii].
The Change Starts Now
As a responsible, inclusive society; we need to start changing our own perceptions and unlocking the true potential of this newly tapped workforce demographic. Generation Z is driving the world online. By the time they are the ones in the upper management of the workforce, the world of commerce will look one hundred percent different from how it does now.
If we are not careful, we will become the employers they try not to be in the future.