Generation Z—comprised of individuals born between 1995 and the early 2000s—is entering the workforce in great numbers. In fact, according to ManpowerGroup research, by 2020, Gen Z will comprise 24 percent of the global workforce. Like the generations before them, Gen Z employees have characteristics that make them unique. More specifically, Gen Zers’ preferences for how they communicate and work with others have important implications when it comes to engaging them in the workplace.
Knowing how to engage employees—including those in Generation Z—can be a challenge. However, companies that recognize the differences between Gen Z and other employees will find success in engaging this newest generation of talent.
Leverage Modern Technology
Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion
Support Employee Growth and Advancement
Provide Regular Feedback
Highlight the Company Mission
Gen Z is the first generation to have never known a world without the internet or social media. As such, Gen Zers are true digital natives and thrive on social media and other forms of digital communication. To keep them engaged in the workplace, it makes sense to incorporate modern technology that helps them communicate, collaborate, and build relationships with others. Some examples of employee engagement tools that will support Gen Z employees include:
An interactive org chart that allows employees to populate their profile, learn about one another, and collaborate via integrations with email, contacts, and calendars
Collaboration platforms such as Slack
Virtual onboarding resources that help new hires quickly ramp up and familiarize themselves with the processes and people they will interact with in their new role
Digital learning libraries that allow Gen Zers to personalize their learning and do so at their own pace
Even before they come on board, Generation Zers know how to use technology to find just about anything they want to know about a company. As employees, they will be further engaged by a company culture that encourages and embraces transparency. You can build transparency by allowing employees to see and interact with the company org chart; by encouraging direct, honest communication from company leaders; and by providing employees with various ways to get to know one another.
According to the Pew Research Center, Gen Z is the most ethnically diverse generation yet. To engage Gen Zers, it’s important to highlight efforts the company is making to celebrate the many kinds of diversity that comprise the workforce. You can do this by showcasing the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts on social media platforms and the company intranet, and also through profiles that allow employees to share their interests, special skills, and fun facts that make them unique.
Generation Z employees are ambitious and value opportunities for career advancement. In one study, two-thirds of Gen Zers said that their goal in life was to make it to the top of their profession. You can engage Gen Z employees by showing a commitment to their growth and development, and by providing opportunities for them to advance. Examples of ways to do this include:
Ensuring internal candidates are strongly considered as part of the company’s workforce planning activities
Providing employees with full visibility into the career path options that exist for them within the company
Offering leadership training and stretch assignments that prepare employees for positions of greater responsibility
Perhaps because of the real-time immediacy that digital platforms provide, Gen Zers have come to expect more frequent feedback. They also appreciate getting regular updates that let them know if they’re on the right track in the workplace. According to one study, 66 percent of Generation Z employees said they needed feedback from their supervisor every few weeks or more to stay at their job. In addition to regular performance reviews, Generation Z can be engaged by regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings, opportunities to interact with senior leaders and employees from other teams, and ongoing coaching from managers.
Research shows that when employees feel aligned with the company mission, they tend to be more engaged and stay with the company longer. Generation Zers are no exception. They have a range of passions and interests, and when the company aligns with those passions, Gen Z is likely to be engaged and motivated at work. You can highlight your company mission through storytelling on the company intranet, through company-wide and departmental meetings, and in smaller team discussions that help Gen Zers see how their interests align with the work of the company.
Gen Z employees are just beginning to make their mark in the workplace. As they continue to comprise a larger share of your employees, it will be important to utilize these strategies to keep them engaged and challenged. Once you’ve done so, it’s a good idea to see how your efforts are paying off with an employee engagement survey. Survey results will help you better understand Gen Z employee engagement levels, and regularly scheduled surveys will also deliver insights about how to continue to engage all employees.