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Just as you got used to embracing and engaging Millennials, the latest workforce, Gen Z, is changing the game yet again. It’s a common misconception that members of Gen Z are merely younger versions of Millennials.
In reality, they’re even more tech-savvy, and they’re hungrier and more demanding of leaders and companies. More importantly, they’re expected to make up 20% of the U.S. workforce within the next two years.
It’s time to realize that Gen Z, not winter, is coming. You need to know how this group is going to impact your company in the near future. With that in mind, here are five ways that Gen Z will influence your business — and what you can do to lead them to success.
2. Rethink your approach to recruiting.
Gen Z is a unique and diverse group. It’s known for doing research, particularly on social media and other peer-driven networks, before purchasing a product or service. That means the way you recruit them will have to completely change.
“Organizations can’t expect to recruit by the old means and attract this generation with old policies,” write Patricia M. Buhler and Nicole Evans write on HR Executive. “Organizations must be flexible and creative to successfully recruit Gen Z employees.”
What does this mean for your company? For starters, if you want to attract top Gen Z talent, you’re going to need to post openings online, as well as maintain a consistent digital presence — 70% of prospective employees read company reviews on sites like Glassdoor. You need to highlight your culture, purpose, and opportunities for development. One way to do this is by sharing behind-the-scenes footage of your team solving a problem or volunteering.
Additionally, you need to make the application process frictionless. Candidates should be able to quickly apply for a job and upload a résumé directly from their phone. You may want to embrace technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to assist in the recruiting process.
3. Schedule frequent face-to-face time.
“As employees, Gen Z’ers want frequent interactions with supervisors and organizational leaders,” explains Janice Gassam in a piece for Forbes. “They value regular feedback about their performance, and contrary to popular perceptions, this group values face-to-face interactions.”
I’ve found, as a leader, that an effective way to achieve this is by changing the “I don’t have time” mentality. I understand that you have a lot on your plate. But take a look at your calendar: No matter how busy you are, I bet you can spare five minutes here and there to meet individually with members of your team. During these chats, you could ask what you can do to improve their performance and productivity. You could also talk about their interests, both inside and outside the office — really get to know them. They may want to pick your brain on everything from finances to long-term career planning.
Also, schedule times for your teammates to mingle and collaborate on projects together. This could center on having lunch together, even if it’s just once a month to celebrate milestones as a team. Other options could include taking a development course together or brainstorming ways for your company to become more socially responsible.
4. Create a more fluid organization.
It’s been found that 75% of Generation Z would be interested in a situation in which they could hold multiple roles within one place of employment. That means that your company needs to become more fluid.
Employees used to apply for a specific job and remain in that position until retirement. Now, you need to provide opportunities for Gen Zers to take on new responsibilities and roles. They may want to draw on interests or skills they’re not using in their current position. Without that outlet, they may shift from employer to employer frequently.
It may sound chaotic, but shifting tasks and duties encourages creativity and helps team members feel more engaged — and more influential when it comes to the big picture. If you provide them with continuous opportunities to learn and grow, you can rest assured that they’re more than capable of getting the job (or multiple jobs) done.
4. Embrace individuality.
McKinsey & Company explains that “for Gen Zers, the key point is not to define themselves through only one stereotype but rather for individuals to experiment with different ways of being themselves and to shape their individual identities over time.”
This can get tricky because you have to implement some structure and guidelines. You don’t want new hires to post inappropriate content on the company’s social channels. You also don’t want them to spend all day on their personal social media accounts. But you can become a little less rigid.
Employees who use social media are more engaged. You can block out specific periods of your teammates’ schedules to exchange ideas with colleagues on Twitter or establish new professional connections on LinkedIn.
Furthermore, you may want to launch an internal blog so they can share their advice and discuss how they’ve overcome challenges. This can boost productivity and strengthen bonds between employees. It encourages them to share their opinions and feedback. And if you offer an external blog, their insights will further establish them as experts in your customers’ eyes.
Don’t restrict this to digital outlets; encourage your team to speak up in meetings. Set aside a few minutes at the end for people to ask questions or provide input.
5. Focus on diversity and inclusion.
Around 63% of Gen Z feels it’s important to work with people with diverse educational backgrounds and skill levels. An additional 20% believes that having people from various cultures is the most important element of a team.
This generation is on to something. Diversity and inclusion encourage more innovation and employee satisfaction, and they improve both recruiting and retention. It’s also good for your company’s bottom line.
Ryan Jenkins suggests in Inc. that you can create a more inclusive culture by knowing how each generation defines diversity and inclusion. For example, Gen X has a traditional view, focusing on areas like gender and ethnicity. Millennials, however, also take into account cognitive diversity.
Jenkins also recommends recruiting without bias. Tools like Pymetrics rely on bias-free artificial intelligence to connect the right people to the right job. Providing inclusion training that addresses awareness and removes bias, as well as being transparent and open about inclusion, can go a long way. Deloitte, for instance, uses “inclusion councils,” where employees can share their thoughts, struggles, and priorities.
Gen Z is here, and it’s changing the workplace. Rather than ignore this fact, recognize how Gen Z is impacting your business and what actions you can take to make it a seamless transition. Gen Z will push your company into new territory — and that’s a good thing.
John is the co-founder of Calendar, author of the best-selling book “Top of Mind,” and a keynote speaker. You can sign up for early access to Calendar here!
By John Hall
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