Generation Z is the name that has been given to the age group coming up after the Millennials. With the oldest of this group born in the mid-1990s, many are just starting to enter the workforce. One trait that is universally bestowed on Gen-Z is their relationship with technology — they are the first generation to have grown up with cellphones and laptops and social media. This has translated into their expert proficiency with all things digital, according to Thomas Epperson, president of the nonprofit InnerWill Leadership Institute. “We can all recognize this, but as leaders we need to do more than just acknowledge this fact. We needed to consider how these skills can be leveraged, prioritized and shared with others,” he said.
The effects are already rippling out into workplaces, getting forward thinking organizations to make some changes. For the last few years the California Employee Rights Legal Group, a labor law and employment law firm, has been steadily moving towards becoming a paperless office. Most of its communication is digital now too, said Jesse Harrison, founder and CEO. There are some good financial reasons for these moves but demographics was a major driver as well. “As younger generations begin to populate the workplace, I’ve had to adapt my business accordingly,” Harrison said. “Those in Generation Z are very concerned with their time and efficiency, so businesses need to take a step back and reconsider what will attract younger workers.”
First, though, you’ve got to recruit them and the best way to do that is make sure your online presence and technology footprint meets their exacting standards. This means having a paperless office and digital communication channels, but there are other technologies as well that Gen Z has come to see as essential and expected.
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Show Them, Don’t Tell Them
Another technology that cannot be overlooked in this pursuit is video — it is essential for communicating with Gen Z, whose de facto motto is "show me, don’t tell me," said Ashira Prossack, a Millennial and Gen Z engagement expert. “Companies need to have mobile friendly, content heavy sites. Their websites should give candidates a feel for what working their would be like,” she said. Prossack also suggested companies include videos of their current employees and a virtual tour of the office.
Her best advice is for organizations to be authentic and consistent across all of their online channels and platforms. “If your social media shows Gen Z contributing and working, you should not have a website that is antiquated,” Epperson said. He also pointed to video as an essential technology and said companies should use them wherever possible. “For example, instead of long job descriptions, put together a short video showcasing the role. Research shows that the average attention span of Gen Z is only 8 seconds so keep it short and stay on message.”
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Because Gen Z has never existed without a screen in every part of their lives, they actually crave more and more facetime — much more than Millennials, said Pushpa Gowda, the Global Technology Engagement Director for Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated or JLL. So bring on the screens — in whatever form factor they may have morphed into as technology continues to advance. “Companies need to embrace new technologies, whether that’s augmented technology that allows employers to join meetings via holograms or telepresence instead of Skype as well as video walls that allow for data visualization,” Gowda said.
Engaging Through Gamification
Gamification is another technology that can drive Gen Z engagement at work, said Aviad Abiri, VP of portfolio sales enablement at NICE. “Gamification is the application of big data and video game mechanics to workplace activities,” he said. “With many companies already using contests and competitions to engage their employees, gamification technology can help formalize a performance-driven culture.” It can also teach new skills and increase transparency with real-time feedback, he added — all traits that appeal to those in Gen Z.