Gen Z: Agents of Change

15 years ago the first of the Millennials burst out of college and into our workplaces carrying what seemed then to be an unbelievably foreign and complex set of expectations for what work ought to be. Companies that failed to recognize and adjust to the changing reality paid a hefty toll in turnover.

What if you had the ability to send a message back in time to your former self to deliver a word of advice of how you could begin preemptively evolving and preparing your entire HR service delivery model. Imagine the competitive advantage you’d have!

Well, it’s happening again. Only this time, it’s not the Millennials… it’s Gen Z. 2019 is the first year they begin entering the workforce en masse. They carry their own view of the world and their expectations for work are unique and new as well. Don’t be caught flat-footed; begin preparing today!

Who are Gen Z?

Generation Z (Gen Z), is the generation that follows Millennials (aka Gen Y) and is made up of people born from 1995 through 2010. Gen Z is an even larger age cohort than Gen Y, with over 60 million people; this group is expected to comprise over 20% of the workforce by 2021. Members of Gen Z are widely considered to be “digital natives” in that they have been immersed in technology and devices their entire lives.

gen z stages infographSource: Instagram (chartipedia)

What makes Gen Z “tick” and what are practical steps to prepare for them?

In order to attract Gen Z employees, it is crucial to leverage technology intelligently right from the beginning of the recruitment process. 80% of Gen Z aspire to work with cutting edge technology, and 91% of Gen Z say technology would influence job choice among similar employment offers.

gen z facts infographSource: Instagram (agencysparks)

Organizations that embrace bold new approaches will stand out from the crowd, increasing their chances of beating the competition for the best talent. Given these new realities, organizations would be well advised to rethink their recruitment and onboarding strategies, paying attention to things like:

  • Developing and promoting a strong employer brand online
  • Moving beyond transactions to create engaging experiences – crafting an impactful digital candidate experience
  • Engaging new hires even before their first day and retaining a strong online connection
  • Delivering a personalized new hire experience day 1 and beyond;

Once Gen Z employees are part of the team, it is crucial to leverage agile technologies to help them hone their “soft” skills. A few examples include:

Next Generation Mobile Experience

With Gen Z’s degree of tech-savvy, they are used to being connected across multiple devices and social channels. That is how they share and get information. In reality, it’s not mobile first anymore but fast becoming mobile only.

Look for applications that are built with progressive web app (PWA) technology, delivering a website that looks and behaves as if it is a mobile app, but without limits to functionality or high drop-off rates. PWA are an enhancement of existing web technology and are typically a shortcut that lives on the home screen (no requirement to download or visit an app store).

Gen Z employees value connections and relationships. Traditional platforms, with their focus on data and process automation are ill-equipped to support this. PWA moves the social enterprise forward, providing the vehicle to support broad-based adoption and social connection – no matter the device. PWA offer Gen Z employees the flexibility to work where they want to work.

Feedback & Sentiment

Gen Z wants to feel their voices are heard. Agile feedback capabilities are a vital component of engaging employees; frontline talent is often in the best position to provide feedback on what could be improved. Once a year engagement surveys are not an effective approach for an agile workforce:

  • They only take a snapshot view of engagement at a particular point in time
  • Can be influenced by what is going on at the time of year it is distributed and completed by employee
  • Results are delayed (often 3 months or more) before leadership sees them
  • Companies run “blind” for an entire year until the next survey

A Talent Engagement Platform deploys real-time employee feedback tools measuring engagement and employee sentiment on a continuous basis. Given its connection to the organization’s engagement platform, feedback can be collected and directed to specific teams and work units. In addition, it can drive automated action planning to address priority topics.

Informal Learning

Gen Z is confident in their skills in technology but not as confident in their non-tech or “soft” skills. 75% of Gen Z employees expect to learn from peers on the job.

Traditional learning management systems follow the pattern of large, complex, process driven enterprise software. The vast majority of features go unused and employees do not know how to find the most relevant training from libraries of courses/information. In the agile learning technology world, it is easy for teams to create training materials on the fly. Informal videos, not unlike what Gen Z has grown up watching on YouTube, can be published to teams to support best practice sharing. Personal networks and project communities can be quickly created to enable collaboration. Find and live chat with an expert enables teams to leverage internal expertise they might not have otherwise known existed. System intelligence presents relevant recommended training to an employee versus hoping they can find it on their own.

Gen Z: Agents of Change

Organizations are presented with not only an imperative to cater to the needs of Gen Z, but an opportunity to take advantage of their technical skills. This aptitude, paired with the proper technology tools empowers Gen Z employees to quickly become advocates and connectors within the organization.

Connectors, as the term implies, are people who have a large number of social connections. They are individuals in the organization who seem to know everyone. In management jargon, they are well-networked individuals who have contacts with people from a variety of backgrounds. In an organization, connectors wield enormous influence and clout because of their contacts – both within and outside it. This is what makes connectors crucial in change management. If connectors become convinced about the change effort and are enthusiastic about it, they will pass on their enthusiasm to all their contacts, thus spreading the message of change very effectively. Therefore, an organization needs to identify its connectors first, and enlist their support for change.

Gen Z is the perfect cohort to help facilitate the adoption of technology (77% of Gen Z employees are willing to be technology mentors to others at work), and thus help unlock the desired outcomes of the technology. With the right approach, Gen Z can help drive more productivity, higher customer metrics, increased sales and profitability. That is something all generations can appreciate!

 

Devin Harris, Senior Marketing Manager at Vibe HCM has worked closely with the strategic benefits of employee-focused workforce technology for over 14 years. Most recently, he is examining the business outcomes that organizations achieve by deploying HCM Engagement platforms.

For additional information, check out the resource section of Vibe HCM’s website.


Blog Post Sources:

Dell Technologies Perspectives: Gen Z is here. Are you Ready?

LinkedIn Learning Blog: Gen Z is Shaping a New Era of Learning: Here’s What you Should Know

Forbes: How Much Financial Influence Does Gen Z Have?

Forbes: How to Make Your Workplace Ready for Gen Z

Change Management: Altering Mindsets in a Global Context, V. Nilakant and S. Ramnarayan, Response Books, 2006

The Tipping Point: How Little Things can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell, Hachette Book Group, 2000, 2002.

Instagram: agencysparks, chartipedia

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