Following the oft-maligned millennials, Generation Z — those born between 1997 and 2012 — are now taking on roles in your business.
Whether you have a good or bad attitude toward Gen Z, sometimes called Zoomers, likely depends on your own generation. Regardless of what your expectations are, the important thing to know is they’re not carbon copies of millennials.
Each generation had its own experiences growing up — millennials went from arcades to iPhones, while Gen Z grew up with smart tech. Those experiences shaped who they are and what they expect from employers.
You’ll have unique challenges getting Gen Z to buy into your organization and your processes, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic pulling the rug out from under them right as they started to enter the job market.
Many Gen Zers already working lost their jobs as businesses shut down. Meanwhile, Zoomers still in school had their entire education routine turned upside down as they shifted to home and online learning. How that will affect them long term remains to be seen, but we know from earlier studies that Gen Z was already pragmatic and cautious and skeptical of corporations, businesses, and mass media.
Those are characteristics you’ll want to keep in mind as you start to bring more and more Gen Z employees into your organization. Here are some tips for training them and encouraging them to buy into your processes and goals.
Use Engaging, High-Tech Training
If your onboarding consists of a stack of training documents or lengthy training videos, it’s past time to rethink your approach. Just as with teaching anyone of any age, you need to capture their attention, but that can be tricky for a generation that was raised in today’s digital environment. You need to provide engaging and high-tech training that gives them hands-on experience. Consider working with vendors that provide live online training and flexible schedules to help get your young employees off to a strong start.
Play to Their Media Consumption Habits
As mentioned above, keeping Zoomers’ attention can be difficult, especially since they’re used to consuming media in small quantities. From the short videos of TikTok to the brief articles on Buzzfeed, they take in content in quick, small doses. Adapt to these tendencies by focusing your training on key areas, getting to the point, and being flexible. Lengthy videos that drone for hours might do more harm than good if your employees stop absorbing information before you touch on the most important aspects of your processes. Get them bought in one piece at a time.
Encourage In-Person Collaboration
Gen Z was already used to an online lifestyle before COVID shook up their world. However, in-person interactions will eventually return when your staff begins working together in close proximity again. Encourage your young employees to work together and build interpersonal skills that will pay off down the line. The more comfortable they are online and offline, the more they can contribute to your business.
Be Clear About Expectations
Whether it’s what you need from them in their daily job roles or how you want them to use a new piece of hardware, be sure your Gen Z employees understand exactly what you expect. Also make it clear how they can get more training or information about particular tasks or devices required to perform their jobs. Zoomers want to feel invested in their work and be given purpose. That doesn’t mean holding their hands every step of the way. It means pointing them in the right direction and making sure they know what the goal is.
Keeping employees engaged and working toward the same goals is important no matter what generation they’re from. But you will see that your Gen Zers need some different approaches. The faster you adapt to Gen Z, the better prepared they’ll be to help your business succeed.