Businesses everywhere are ramping up to welcome a new wave of ambitious young professionals into their ranks: Gen Z. Therefore HR departments are hustling to ensure new workers feel supported and engaged. From careful recruitment processes that cater directly to the needs of young employees to adapting an organizational culture in a timely manner – with Gen Z increasingly entering the workforce, HR experts should be mindful of their unique approaches to voicing opinions, giving and receiving feedback, as well as listening. Taking advantage of these different ways of communicating can bring about positive results in team dynamics when considering age and experience gaps between employees.
How does Gen Z communicate?
Young workers are often idealistic and more uncompromising than previous generations. At work, they strive for a lifestyle that values flexibility and self-expression; one which allows them to experience the joys of life outside their professional endeavours. They’re committed to embracing balance in order to reach true fulfilment. The expectations of the younger generation entering the workforce are, unsurprisingly, markedly distinct from those of their more experienced coworkers. They are incredibly socially conscious and driven by more than just a paycheck. For that reason, nobody would be surprised by the fact that Gen Z seeks companies that prioritize social and environmental engagement. The youth of today are quickly becoming known for their desire to always seek new and greater opportunities. That is why they often change jobs and look for the perfect place for themselves. What does the young generation think of communication and building relationships?
Above all, Gen Z values authenticity and directness, also in contact with their employer or colleagues. To pique their interest, concise and targeted communication is key; avoid going into too much detail on topics they won’t find relevant. The challenge of workplace dynamics is brought to light by the question: can those with minimal experience correctly prioritize what matters most in their professional environment? Unfortunately, this is often not possible. The issue then lies in effectively managing expectations and finding a way for both sides to communicate properly.
In the workplace, they strive for a completely different reality, where they are not limited by time or place. This also applies to the communication. As tomorrow’s workforce takes its first steps into the job market, they are demanding an increased level of flexibility and online interactions with employers and colleagues. They are bold and unafraid to share their thoughts, no matter how controversial the subject may be. How can this affect the work of teams?
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New generation, new challenges
Compared to other generations, Zoomers are more open – not only to new ideas but also to dialogue and discussions regarding their theses or expectations. They are constantly striving to improve, welcoming feedback at all stages of a task or project – during and after completion. They yearn to make a difference, yet their enthusiasm for reform often fades after the first roadblock. This creates pressing challenges for employers who must now take on major roles of authority in order to lead those whose motivation can weaken.
Generation Z redefines the traditional role of authority figures. Dependence on knowledge acquired over years is no longer a factor; with access to information so readily available, Generation Z seeks leaders to look up to and emulate for guidance, support and mentoring instead. They crave empathetic management combined with an authenticity that inspires them but also motivates their commitment to work ethically. Effectively managing Generation Z can be a challenge, but those who treat all employees with respect and act as role models are the most successful. Demonstrating such behaviour gains the admiration of Gen-Zers and helps foster their growth within an organization.
How to communicate with Gen Z?
Generation Z is bringing a unique set of expectations to the workplace, and HR departments are having to navigate an unprecedented situation. Employers must find ways to meet these demands while still maintaining effective management strategies in order for Gen Z employees to thrive. What actions are we talking about?
- With our youngest workers in the workplace, we must ensure that any opposing views are not taken as a personal attack. To achieve this goal and help foster motivation and determination amongst these individuals, transitioning from feedback to feedforward is essential.
- To make sure your message is heard, it pays to keep it short and sweet. For young employees, in particular, text or voice messages can be more powerful than lengthy e-mails for effective communication.
- Gen Z often has a short attention span. They expect shorter meetings and engaging and visual content from their colleagues. Instead of wasting valuable time in meetings, it’s a smarter move to create instructional videos that can be used as reference points whenever needed.
- Younger employees have rapid absorption of knowledge, but it can be just as rapidly forgotten. To minimize this issue and ensure the information is retained, regular meetings should take place to discuss pertinent topics and employ creative methods such as note-taking or role-playing during teaching sessions.
- Generation Z is all about bridging the gap between employees already at the level of the recruitment process. This is a key issue that influences the definition of employer attractiveness.
Who should adapt to whom?
In the ever-changing workplace, Generation Z is leading a revolution. This diverse group of young employees come to work with high expectations–seeking out positions that align with their values and often moving on when they don’t find them. Who bears responsibility for ensuring a harmonious environment where different generations can thrive together?
Both managers and young workers face a thrilling challenge: to bridge the generational gap in order to maximize productivity. Managers have the opportunity – and responsibility – of preparing for this shift, while individuals must strive towards collaborating effectively with their team. It is an exciting prospect as understanding each other’s strengths can open up immense possibilities that bring progress forward!
Completely changing the management model or adapting the strategy to meet the expectations of generation Z may turn out to be quite risky, taking into account the diversity of the labour market. However, it is worth planning actions that can be introduced gradually and that will be the result of the expectations of representatives of all currently working generations. And most importantly, understand where communication hotspots can be.
To keep employees happy and engaged, companies should aim to create a harmonious work environment that both respects different perspectives and meets the essential needs of different generations. Through effective communication strategies tailored for each situation, businesses can prepare themselves for challenging labour shortages in years to come by minimizing employee turnover from within.
About the Author
The author of the article “How to effectively communicate with Gen Z in the workplace?” is Karolina Miniach, HR Business Partner at Devire. Karolina has over 6 years of experience in managing people and HR processes. At Devire, she is responsible for fulfilling business needs by adapting HR processes and appropriate tools but also initiating appropriate HR projects – including digitization of processes, Learning & Development, Performance Management, and Employer Branding.