Gen Zs are entering a very different workforce than previous generations. Technology and the emergence of remote and hybrid work continue to reshape how teams operate, while Gen Z employees bring a new set of skills, needs, and expectations to the table.
In this quickly evolving landscape, it’s become clear the old way of onboarding no longer works.
According to the World Economic Forum, Gen Z will make up 30% of the workforce by 2025. With Gen Z now entering the workforce at full speed, it’s imperative that organizations reexamine the way they welcome, include, and prepare their new joiners to be successful in their current—and future—roles.
Why Is Onboarding Important?
Effective onboarding can help new joiners hit the ground running and ramp up their productivity more quickly, as well as integrate into the team and company culture. Onboarding is an opportunity to set the tone for high employee engagement, collaboration, and continuous learning.
Not only is this important for morale and teambuilding, but it can also translate to stronger employee performance, increased efficiency, and higher retention rates. As more Gen Zs join the ranks, it’s critical to design a new strategy that resonates with young employees and helps them thrive at work.
Get started with these four steps:
Step 1: Boost Engagement by Creating a Safe Space
Starting a new job can be overwhelming for anyone, especially if you’re just beginning your career. According to our latest research, the Kahoot! ZetaPulse Gen Z Workforce Study, 90% of Gen Z knowledge workers in the United States reported experiencing social discomfort or anxiety at work, with 56% feeling it more than half the time. This could significantly impact a team’s ability to collaborate, share knowledge, and be creative together.
However, 53% of Gen Z employees said creating a safe, nonjudgmental environment would encourage them to proactively participate.
Companies should consider how they’re establishing a welcoming and engaging environment in the onboarding process. Friendly competition and game-based learning can be powerful ways to help newcomers break the ice and connect with their coworkers on a more human, authentic level.
Technology can also help lower the barrier to entry for group experiences like brainstorming, feedback, and more.
Step 2: Introduce Soft Skills Training and Networking Support Early
When we asked Gen Zs what their employer should focus on in training, their top answer was support with building soft skills, such as leadership, communication, and negotiation. For these skills, there’s no substitute for practical experience, but how can companies support this at scale?
In our research, Gen Z knowledge workers pointed to moments like being asked to give a presentation or being called on in a meeting unexpectedly as particularly anxiety-inducing. These can be even more uncomfortable for new joiners.
However, companies can help Gen Z employees build confidence to speak up and share their knowledge by providing them with the space and tools to do so successfully—to have a win.
Guide employees on how to create presentations that are interactive and get the audience actively involved. Employees can even gamify their presentations, boosting engagement even higher.
Interactivity not only makes it more likely the audience will pay attention and remember what they learned but also can take some pressure off the presenters as the sole speakers, as well as boost the presenters’ confidence, as they’ll see their coworkers are actually enjoying it. While employees may worry about boring their coworkers with a traditional presentation, they can feel confident that hosting a knowledge tournament will be a hit.
Employees may even start asking to lead learning sessions for their team.
Step 3: Start Filling the Skill Gap Now
Rapidly evolving technology has been a game-changer for companies to increase their efficiency, performance, and more, but it has also left many employees struggling to keep up. According to McKinsey & Company, 87% of companies globally say they either already have a skills gap in their workforce or expect to have one soon.
The good news is that Gen Z employees tend to be very open to learning new skills and, in fact, are often excited for the opportunity to grow. A well-designed onboarding program that incorporates training and upskilling can help bridge these gaps and ensure employees are equipped with key skills.
One powerful tool to enable this is microlearning, or bite-size, digital learning experiences that employees can complete at their own pace. The short-form content avoids overwhelming employees with too much information, increasing knowledge retention and keeping engagement high.
Notably, our report showed microlearning as one of Gen Z’s top choices for making the employee experience more engaging.
Step 4: Adapt Your Onboarding Process for Hybrid Work
Effective onboarding is even more critical for remote and hybrid employees, who may not have the same opportunities for in-person interactions as those on-site full time. However, this also invites companies to be more intentional about the resources and support they offer new hires, their vision for company culture, and how they want to create it.
With technology, you can create even more engaging experiences than traditional onboarding. Try integrating video, interactive elements, and friendly competition. Add humor, and invite current employees to contribute.
This approach can break down barriers and help people connect more authentically. After all, many people have formed close friendships by playing video games together online while keeping office mates as coworkers only.
Focus on creating a real sense of connection—not only including remote and hybrid workers but also using digital tools to design more engaging and impactful experiences for everyone.
Rethinking the onboarding and training process may feel like a daunting task, but it can be foundational for successful employees and, in turn, a thriving business. Ultimately, employees who feel well equipped for their job and valued as part of the team, with opportunities to grow and advance, are more likely to want to bring their A-game to work from day 1 and for years to come.
James Micklethwait is the Vice President of Kahoot! at work, a global learning and engagement platform company. Kahoot! at work’s learning platform makes it easy for any individual or corporation to create, share, and host learning sessions that drive compelling engagement.