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How to Engage Gen Z Employees

Since the popularity of the internet in the 1990s, a new generation has emerged that is utterly unique - Generation Z. As the first true digital natives, they have a distinct perspective and set of expectations when it comes to the workplace. For business owners seeking to engage this dynamic cohort of employees, understanding their values and motivations is critical.

In this blog, we at People Management Partners will provide you with practical strategies to attract, engage, and retain Gen Z employees effectively.

Understanding Gen Z: Who They Are and What They Want

Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, pertains to individuals born between 1997 and 2012. As the youngest members of the workforce, they introduce a unique set of values, expectations, and work styles. Here are key insights about them:

  • Digital Natives: Gen Z employees are digital natives who anticipate utilising modern technology in their workplaces. They value in-person interactions but also adapt seamlessly to mobile-first habits.

  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: Gen Zs are inherently entrepreneurial. While they are motivated by stability, they prefer working individually.

  • Salary Views: Interestingly, although salary is essential to them, Gen Z values it less than other generations. They seek a holistic approach to work where they are acknowledged and valued as multifaceted individuals, not merely employees.

  • Workplace Preferences: Gen Zers are particularly interested in financial security, flexible work hours, supportive management, inclusivity, and work-life balance.

  • Influences: A company's ethics and social awareness significantly influence Gen Z. They appreciate and are more likely to be attracted to workplaces that prioritise diversity, equity, inclusion, mental health, purpose-driven work, flexibility, and instant gratification.

The Importance of Engaging Gen Z Employees

Engaging Gen Z workers in the workplace goes far beyond merely boosting retention rates and productivity. While these are undeniably valuable outcomes, the real magic happens when these new skills and fresh perspectives are harnessed, leading to innovative business solutions.

Clearly, in an era where employees expect personal development and growth opportunities, such an inclusive and nurturing environment is not just beneficial - it's essential.

7 Challenges HR Teams May Face When Engaging Gen Z Employees

What exactly makes engaging Gen Z employees so challenging? Here are seven common challenges that HR teams may face:

1. Short Attention Span

Gen Zers are prone to shorter attention spans due to the rapid-fire information flow they're accustomed to in the digital world.

A study by Microsoft found that the average attention span has decreased to eight seconds. For employers, this means traditional long form training and communication methods might not be as effective. It's crucial to incorporate concise, engaging content to hold their attention effectively.

2. High Expectations

Motivating Gen Z in the workplace goes beyond simply offering competitive salaries. This generation has high expectations for technology, demanding swift responses, efficient systems, and a seamless digital experience.

According to a 2018 study conducted by Dell, a staggering 91% of individuals stated that the technology provided by an employer would significantly influence their decision when choosing between similar job offers.

Moreover, 80% believe that technology and automation will create a fairer work environment. Equally impressive, 80% expressed a desire to work with cutting-edge technology, with over a third interested in IT careers, including cybersecurity.

These figures underline the critical role of technological advancements in professional development and meeting the core values of young workers.

3. Social Media Pressure

Living in the digital era, Gen Zers face unique challenges that older generations may not fully grasp. One such challenge is the pressure exerted by social media, often shaping their career aspirations and personal values while sometimes leading to feelings of inadequacy or fear of missing out (FOMO).

A study by the American Psychological Association reveals that a notable 45% of Gen Zers feel stressed by social media. Recognising and addressing these pressures are key to understanding this generation's needs, ensuring they feel valued and supported in the workplace.

4. Diverse Backgrounds

Gen Z employees, the most diverse generation to enter the workforce, bring a wealth of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to the table. Glanbia Nutritionals recently highlighted that Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation we've seen.

This fact underlines the importance of fostering an inclusive work environment that values and respects this diversity, emphasising the critical role of employee engagement strategies tailored specifically for engaging the Gen Z workforce.

5. Lack of Experience

As many Gen Zers step into the professional world for the first time, they may lack the extensive work experience that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers or earlier generations possess. This presents HR teams with a unique challenge but also an exciting opportunity.

The perceived lack of experience can be transformed into a platform for continuous learning and growth. Comprehensive onboarding programs and ongoing skill development initiatives become essential, enhancing the overall employee experience.

6. Multitasking

As part of the digital age, Gen Zers have become adept at multitasking and managing multiple digital platforms at once. This unique skill set, inherent to a substantial portion of the global population, can sometimes lead to a lack of focus and challenges in prioritising tasks, especially when faced with repetitive tasks.

However, this presents an opportunity for employers to guide and help Gen Zers hone their focus and task prioritisation skills. A Stanford study indicates that unchecked multitasking can diminish productivity, underlining the importance of fostering these skills.

7. Job-hopping Tendencies

Gen Zers tend to switch jobs frequently, driven by their entrepreneurial spirit and high expectations. According to a Deloitte report, 43% of Gen Zers envisage leaving their jobs within two years, making it challenging for HR teams to retain talent and maintain stability. Employers need to engage Gen Z employees in meaningful ways to foster loyalty and decrease turnover rates.

5 Gap-Closing Engagement Strategies for Gen Z Employees

The challenge of engaging with Gen Z employees is no small feat, but with the right strategies in place, it can be achieved. Here are five gap-closing engagement strategies for Gen Z employees:

1. Leverage Technology to Foster Connectivity

As digital natives, Gen Z employees are highly adept at using technology for collaboration and communication. Integrating digital tools into your business processes helps foster connectivity and boost productivity.

For instance, project management software like Trello or Asana can streamline workflow, while communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams can facilitate instant information sharing. Virtual reality (VR) can make training programs more engaging and immersive, with a PWC study revealing VR learners to be 275% more confident in applying the skills learned after training.

2. Foster Reverse Mentoring Programmes

Reverse mentoring initiatives can create a bridge of understanding and respect between older and younger employees. A LinkedIn article by Crescendo Global highlights that these programs can boost employee retention and job performance.

A recent survey found that 68% of executives felt reverse mentoring enhanced their tech knowledge, while 66% reported it improved their understanding of younger generations. This underscores the power of reverse mentoring in fostering cross-generational collaboration.

Through this approach, Gen Z workers can learn from the wisdom of experienced colleagues, while older employees can stay updated on new technologies and trends by learning from their younger peers.

3. Create a Continuous Learning Environment

Gen Z employees value continuous learning and development opportunities. A study by LinkedIn found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. Providing regular training workshops, industry expert talks, and resources for self-paced learning not only caters to Gen Z's desire for growth but also keeps them engaged and makes them feel valued.

4. Promote Inclusivity and Purpose-Driven Work

Gen Z employees are more likely to be engaged and committed when they feel their work contributes to a larger purpose. According to a 2023 report conducted by the Oliver Wyman Forum, it was discovered that 70% of Gen Z employees who claim to be loyal to their current employer are still actively or passively searching for new job opportunities.

In addition, a staggering 78% of these employees perceive a lack of transparency as the most significant challenge in the recruitment process. These findings highlight the importance of fostering transparency and addressing the concerns of Gen Z employees to attract and retain top talent in today's competitive job market.

5. Provide Autonomy and Ownership

Gen Z workers have a strong desire for autonomy and flexibility, setting them apart from previous generations. As highlighted in a Forbes article, their competitive spirit drives them to seize opportunities that allow their individual talents to shine.

Unlike their predecessors, many Gen Zers thrive in dedicated workspaces rather than open, collaborative ones. They excel when given the freedom to manage their own projects, letting their unique skills stand out. This independence, coupled with their competitive nature, enables them to deliver standout results, taking full ownership of their work without dependence on others.

Take the First Step Towards Engaging Your Gen Z Employees with People Management Partners

At People Management Partners, we understand the unique challenges of engaging Gen Z employees. That's why we offer our Staff Engagement Survey Software. With over two decades of experience in human resource consulting, we have the expertise to help you bridge the gap between your business and Gen Z employees.

Don't let a generational gap stand in the way of employee engagement and retention. Chat with us today to learn more about how People Management Partners can help.

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