Managing Gen Z in the workplace: 5 tips to communicate effectively

Published on 21/10/2020 by Sonia Navarrete

Gen Z (also known as Generation Z or Centennials) was born after 1997 when technological innovation was at its peak, so they are digital natives who have never existed without smartphones. They shop using AR and VR, and social networks are their backyards—and that means they tend to seek out information on every decision they make. They have plenty of strength and social awareness to offer their employers, but what can you, as a business leader, do to earn that?  In this article, we provide 5 tips to effectively communicate with Gen Z in the workplace. 

tips to communicate with gen z in the workplace

Two-way communication in a digital world

This generation has an innate talent for digital communication. They can absorb information through several platforms at once, and that affects every industry and business department they engage with. They’re content-driven, so they expect to be informed by the people who employ them. Gone are the days when team-building exercises and monetary commissions were enough. The digital generation needs more substance than that.

They want to be educated, not just motivated. Gen Z in the workplace want their employers to invest in their improvement, so one-way discussions won’t cut it. Collaborative tools must encourage two-way connections across several mediums between team leaders and followers alike. Digital transformation has never been this profitable or important. With that in mind, what communication strategies should you be leveraging?

1. Accommodate shortened attention spans

Research shows that Gen Z has a  short attention span at eight seconds to Millennials’ twelve. That doesn’t necessarily mean business leaders need to say less in a shorter time frame. If you can control engagement, you can control attention. Immersive video conferencing technology is undergoing a resurgence as second-generation tools enter the workplace. The TikTok generation uses video the way Gen X once used Filofaxes, so communications leaders must maximise engagement through collaborative video-based tools like live chat software or video conferencing software.

2. Harness the new influencer model

Gen Z has grown up in the shadow of social media influencers. Businesses are starting to capture Gen Z’s attention through performative professionals. Experienced, prominent leaders can mentor hundreds of new employees at once through video-first integration. Your best in-house leaders can become your brand’s own influencers if you have video conferencing software at your side.

3. Focus on feedback and mentorship 

Gen Z’s business values revolve around a genuine interest in achieving their best work. Half say they need constructive criticism in order to succeed, but one in three claims they are more likely to continue working for a supportive manager. 

Fulfilling both of those needs simultaneously demands a delicate balance, and a mentorship model achieves it perfectly. Employee recognition software, 360 degree feedback software and feedback and reviews software are a good way for staff and leaders to provide feedback. It can communicate baseline expectations and raise feedback frequency in a supportive ecosystem. 

4. Utilise communication media

According to a survey, 65% of Gen Z prefers text-based communication over real-world conversation, but other surveys paint a different picture. A Yello study found that half of the digital generation prefers face-to-face connections. Gen Z needs to build relationships with its leaders, and face-to-face communication is as valuable as it’s always been. With Gen Z in the workplace, real-world channels need an open-door policy that encourages feedback, particularly about distressing situations like workplace harassment.

A Workforce Institute survey found that almost half of Gen Z employees want their leaders to hear their ideas and value their views. They are, in other words, not shy to share — a tendency that business leaders need to harness. Your communications technology should open up your channels of communication to ensure that the new generation has plenty of opportunities to share its skills.

5. Recognise the importance of social values

Gen Z’s values have been shaped by the Millennials who came before them, so they are socially aware and have strong principles so, in a sense, the easiest way to inspire Gen Z in the workplace is to give them the power to do their jobs well. 

They need authentic connections with brands and managers. Their loyalty is at a premium, as is work-life balance. It’s no wonder, then, that remote work schedules are becoming increasingly common. As the pandemic marches on, that trend is racing forward even faster. Businesses with remote workers have a 25% lower staff turnover rate. 

75% of employees would be more likely to stay with their current employer if they were allowed to work flexible hours. Collaboration tools are rising to that challenge, with performance monitoring tools following closely behind. That comes with new security demands. 

The youngest generation is looking for work that contributes to its desire to excel so discipline-focused boomer tactics just won’t do. Today’s employers must provide an opportunity for self-actualisation. Give them the power to raise your profits, and you give them work satisfaction. Your business is Gen Z’s opportunity to excel, and that can have a profound effect on your bottom line.

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This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

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About the author

Senior Content Analyst at Capterra, helping SMEs choose the best software. Published in Raconteur, Computer Weekly and IT Pro. Journalist and PR. Nature, bike and dog lover.

Senior Content Analyst at Capterra, helping SMEs choose the best software. Published in Raconteur, Computer Weekly and IT Pro. Journalist and PR. Nature, bike and dog lover.