Here comes a fresh wave of faces into the workforce—a younger, spirited, and green group carrying with them a different take on what a workplace “vibe” should feel like. Born as the ’90s were winding down and growing up through the 2000s, Gen Z is expected to make up 27% of the workforce in just 2 years. And with their arrival, HR professionals and team leaders have their work cut out for them.
Weaving another new generation into the fabric of our hybrid or fully remote work environment seems challenging, but with the right tools, setting this tech-savvy generation up for success is easier than you think. After all, it’s all about sparking a collaboration that blends the hands-on know-how of baby boomers, Gen X, and millennials with the digital prowess of Gen Z, setting the stage for real business growth.
So, the big question: Are you geared up with the right strategies to tackle these changes and get them up to speed?
How to Engage Gen Z in the Workplace
When you mix different generations together (at the workplace or otherwise), you’re expecting people with wildly different ideas, opinions, and even values to work together seamlessly. Yet as we all know, the results can range from messy to downright destructive. Striking the right balance is all about finding the sweet spot that keeps team members engaged and optimistic about their future with the business.
To find that balance, you must focus on engagement methods that curtail rapid turnover. Fortunately, we know that three specific perks keep Gen Z interested, engaged, and ultimately valuable to your business:
Flexible schedules: Many Gen Zers are juggling two or more jobs while preparing their professional portfolios. Flexible schedules allow them to give their best no matter where they are.
Solid pay: With soaring prices and an unattainable cost of living, it’s no wonder the youngest generations want competitive wages and often jump ship if they aren’t provided.
An all-are-welcome culture: Gen Z employees want a place where diversity and inclusion are mandatory, not just encouraged.
Gen Zers are stepping into the workspace with high expectations, and when the work environment vibes with them, it’s a win-win: They stay glued, and the productivity meter increases exponentially.
The challenge? Making the experience for those on the team who work remotely or in the bustling office feel seamless. To do that well, here’s a cheat sheet for HR professionals aiming to increase engagement among Gen Z in the workplace:
- Offer training and improvement opportunities: Continuous training, including training for distributed teams, offers the opportunity to learn new skills and improve tremendously on the job. This keeps them highly motivated.
- Prioritize their basic work needs: Offering job security and stability keeps them engaged, and they’re privy to entitlements like health benefits and career growth that come with the job.
- Go mobile: Embracing technological enhancement doesn’t only attract Gen Z but also keeps your business up to date. It means tasks get done faster and opens up more avenues of communication and knowledge to employees of all ages.
- Be open to new ideals: Initiatives like equal pay, hiring a diverse workforce, and offering equal opportunities to all employees irrespective of gender or race are highly motivating factors. It shows your organization is open to different perspectives and allows personal progression.
When embracing the digital natives, it’s about crafting a workspace that’s as dynamic and diverse as they are. And it doesn’t just make the workplace a better place; it’s also a smart business move.
How to Train Gen Z Employees
With a mixed bag of digital natives and millennials now dominating the workforce, creating a comfortable space for everyone to collaborate and communicate is essential to business longevity. Here are some insights on how HR professionals can traverse this landscape:
1. Spruce up soft skills with hands-on learning.
Getting Gen Z to smoothly blend into hybrid work setups isn’t a walk in the park, especially when it comes to working with different generations. The hitch often lies in the difference in soft skills like leadership and connecting with people. Because many Gen Z employees kick-start their careers in remote or hybrid settings, the traditional office environment might seem like uncharted territory. A good game plan? Roll out some hands-on learning experiences. Letting them shadow the seasoned pros and practice skills with peers, be it online or face-to-face, could go a long way toward brushing up their soft skills in a structured setting. This can also boost their confidence in mingling and working along with colleagues from different generational brackets.
2. Cultivate inclusivity and openness.
A sense of belonging and understanding within the team is key. During training, it’s crucial to create an environment where Gen Z employees can comfortably interact with other, more experienced employees and learn the processes they haven’t quite grasped yet. The easier they find it to interact with the higher-ups, the quicker they’ll find their footing in the organization.
3. Leverage technology for distributed team dynamics.
Training Gen Z employees can be a bit tricky with teams scattered here, there, and everywhere. Given their knack for technology, having the right tech tools in your corner can help overcome the distance hurdle in knowledge-sharing. For example, it’s wise to invest in a psychometric-based tool that helps teams better understand each other so they can collaborate and connect more meaningfully in meetings, on Slack, or via e-mail. Using technology doesn’t only bridge the generation gap but also makes the younger generation feel valued and needed in the workplace.
4. Tailor training to taste.
When it comes to training for distributed teams, the old one-size-fits-all tactic just doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, it’s important to create training programs that are as unique as the individuals. With Gen Z’s tech-savvy nature, online learning platforms are a big hit. Some organizations are even rethinking training content altogether and how they can better cater to diverse learning appetites, ensuring greater effectiveness in the long run.
Fortunately, it’s easy to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to kick your training and internal communication up a notch. Say you have a new Gen Z hire who needs to e-mail the head of sales, John, every week with reported leads. The problem is, the new hire hardly knows John and has no idea how John likes to consume information. With an AI tool that uses your company’s previously recorded psychometric data, the new hire can use pre-supplemented suggestions to ensure their e-mails are comprehensive and useful for John, despite having never interacted with him before. This AI-fueled approach to on-the-fly training can extend beyond e-mails to all communications, ultimately helping Gen Z employees learn new skills and making their contributions to the business more impactful.
The Future of Gen Z in the Workplace
Building a diverse workforce is a bit like piecing together a puzzle, with each demographic group being a piece of the bigger picture. In this complex environment, tools like psychometric testing and AI can be your much-needed guidance in understanding varied learning styles and enabling a tailored training approach.
The aim is bigger than just playing to Gen Z’s tune. It’s about morphing the workspace into a growth-centric hub that has its eyes set on retaining talent, ensuring profitability, and engaging the current workforce today for future stability tomorrow—that’s the future of work.
Juan Betancourt, CEO of Humantelligence, is a visionary leader with a lifelong commitment to technology and AI’s impact on the human experience in the future of work. Having observed the limitations of conventional human capital management systems during his time at large F500 organizations and in the software industry, he recognized a need for innovation. It was this realization that led him to launch Humantelligence, where he saw the potential to transform productivity, team performance, collaboration, and employee engagement while making psychometric insights accessible to all. With a track record of revitalizing global brands like Puma and overseeing the U.S. division of Décathlon, his executive-level operational leadership is unmatched. A Harvard economics graduate with an MBA from The Wharton School, he’s committed to making the future of work accessible and better for all.