Two businessmen using laptop and discussing new technology choices for their workplace
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Historically, technology decision-making has been a top-down process. Behind closed doors, IT leaders crunched numbers and conducted cost-benefit analyses to determine which tools or services provided the greatest value.

The problem with this approach was that it lacked opportunities for employee feedback and buy-in until after decisions were made. So over time, the structure evolved to include department leads who were keyed into their teams’ pain points and more knowledgeable about the tools they needed to solve them. By democratizing the decision-making process, leaders discovered they could select better tech and encourage earlier employee buy-in.

Now, company leaders face another important challenge. What happens when your youngest employees are the most knowledgeable about technology and best equipped to offer insights about the selection of tools to solve organizational problems? How can they be part of the decision-making process?

Gen Z Enters the Workforce

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a gradual shift in workplaces as the first generation of digital natives enters the workforce. As of this year, Gen Zers outnumber millennials, which means if they haven’t already, employers must prepare to welcome and leverage the insights of their newest generation of employees.

Unlike previous generations, Gen Z grew up developing tech aptitude, pragmatism and a collaborative spirit as the technological landscape unfolded around them. Hardwired for efficiency, Gen Z are adept at problem solving and proactively finding tools best suited for any given task.

As a result, companies sometimes encounter problems when implementing tools that young employees see as outdated or inefficient. A recent Nintex study on Gen Z employees found that when given the choice between using an app that’s recommended by their company or an app they know will get the job done more effectively, 79% of Gen Z will always choose the latter.

Rather than writing this practice off as “shadow IT” and enforcing strict policies around app usage, agile IT leaders should invite their young techies to the conversation, and empower them to fuel innovation and digital transformation.

Related Article: How the Impact of Gen Z Will Improve the Workplace for the Rest of Us

Embracing Advice From Gen Z Employees

Gen Zers enter the job market armed with a wealth of technological knowledge that wasn’t available when older employees filled the same entry-level positions. Managers and older peers already recognize Gen Z as tech leaders. In fact, 72% of managers surveyed by Nintex agreed that Gen Z workers are more tech savvy than they are. 

Based on the faith informally bestowed on the newest class of workers, giving Gen Z employees a more formal platform to voice suggestions is the natural next step. Here are the top reasons your youngest employees may be hidden assets when it comes to technology decision-making.

  • Involving Gen Z workers in decision-making improves buy-in and retention. Gen Z is motivated by meaningful work that has a lasting impact on their organizations. Giving them a voice in decision-making and offering opportunities to provide feedback on process improvements or automation improves retention by helping them feel more invested in the organization.
  • Gen Z improves efficiency in IT. Most of us are quick to request support from IT when something goes wrong with our tech, but not Gen Z employees. Not only are they more likely to troubleshoot their own issues before seeking third-party help (according to the Nintex study, less than half report submitting formal IT tickets), they’re also quick to offer technical support to their teammates. The same Nintex study found that more than eight in 10 Gen Z employees said they have been asked by a manager to help fix a tech problem, with nearly 30% saying it happens “extremely frequently.”
  • Younger employees know which tools promote collaboration. Young employees fresh out of university settings are used to group work — they’ve been guinea pigs for apps and tools to collaborate with classmates and complete course work. By using Gen Zers as a tech resource, you can gain insight on the newest and most effective collaboration tools on the market.
  • Gen Z workers increase cross-company tech compliance. When you empower your employees with flexible app policies or give them agency in choosing new tech, you’re much more likely to find tools your whole company is excited to use. Already, business leaders have recognized the value of Gen Z’s input: Nintex found that 80% of decision-makers surveyed said their company had adopted a piece of technology specifically because it was requested by a Gen Z employee.

Savvy leaders equip employees with tech that helps them perform at the highest level. But too often, we assume we know what these tools are without soliciting input from the people who use them most. This creates discord and can cause talented employees to pursue other opportunities.

Young employees are well-versed in today’s digital landscape and your organization is poised to benefit from Gen Zers’ knowledge. It’s time to look beyond the generation gap and recognize the value this tech-savvy generation brings to your organization.