With Generation Z taking over the workplace, managers have to understand how to best communicate with them. Although the generation grew up with Instagram, Tiktok and Twitch, their communication preferences at work may surprise you.
The Millennials used to be the core components of the workforce, but now, they are old news as a new generation is gradually taking over the workforce, Generation Z.
Given the environment Gen Z-ers were raised in, they've developed generation-specific traits and it is reflected in their expectations and attitude to jobs and so you must understand this new workforce if you hope to get the best out of them.
Who are Gen Z employees?
A mistake you shouldn't make is to treat generation Z like millennials because they are much different from one another.
Born during the mid-90s and mid-2000s, Generation Z is the first generation to witness the birth and development of digital technology. Tagged as digital natives, Generation Z's communication preferences are via text messages and video calls on social media platforms. If that makes you think they'd prefer online communications at work, recent research has shown that you thought wrong.
In this article, we have prepared for you the best way to communicate with these young workers.
5 ways to communicate with Gen Z in the workplace
1. Daily face-to-face communication
Don't be surprised. It is a well-known fact that 98% of Generation Z owns a smartphone and the typical Gen Z-er spends an average of 10 hours every day online. Instant messaging is glorified among this generation but when it comes to the work environment, statistics show that 72% of Gen Z prefers in-person communication with their boss and colleagues.
In fact, 40% of Gen Z employees expect daily feedback from their boss on their performance. Lack of constant interaction with the higher-ups might make them feel something is wrong, which will negatively impact the quality of their work.
Another reason why Gen Z-ers prefer in-person communication in the workplace is that they want to be taken seriously by Baby Boomers and Millennials alike. Instant messaging has made Gen Z communication extremely informal with abbreviations like lol, brb, ttyl, and their frequent use of emojis to convey emotions. They fear that if they use such with Baby Boomers, it might be seen as childish.
2. Be honest & transparent
Having honest, transparent conversations with generation Z employees is important in winning their trust and dedication. This is also another reason why they prefer in-person communication, as it is easier to detect whether someone is being straightforward with them.
When dealing with Gen Z-ers, do not butter them up unnecessarily and you shouldn't also gloss over facts with them. Let them know that they can trust you to be honest with them, as this will lead them to have faith in your leadership.
80% of Gen Z employees believe that being made aware of their shortcomings and subsequently embracing their failures will help them to develop themselves better and improve in that particular area.
More than all other generations, Gen Z-ers value transparency. Do not hide wrongdoings and mismanagement issues and embrace open and transparent discussions at all levels by:
- Having a monthly company meeting to keep everyone post and address company-wide issues
- Opening a company social channel to boost interactions between employees.
- Setting up a centralized place for instant access to the company's documents and policies
3. Treat them as equals
Generation Z advocates equal treatment, so they don't expect the age gap between them and the previous generation to cause even the slightest form of disrespect or condescension. They want to be able to give their opinions and be respected for them.
To treat Gen Z employees as equals at work, you should;
- Provide adequate training for them to learn new skills
- Consider them for promotion along with other qualified employees
- Pave a clear career path to enable development in their career
- Don't invalidate their complaints and/or suggestions
- Listen to them and pay attention to what they're offering to the company.
4. Maximize online communication channels
No matter how much they value in-person communication, digital communication is still a prominent part of their lives. By having a blend of in-person and digital communication with Gen Z employees, you can establish a physical bond with them in person and connect with them in their comfort zone digitally.
Don’t just use emails. Integrate popular tools like Slack, Skype or Facebook Workplace to boost communication and collaboration.
Particularly, since the Covid-19, new work models such as remote work, hybrid work from home or workation emerged, online video tools like Zoom, Google Meet are necessary to communicate with Gen Z employees.
5. Bottom-up approach
The bottom-up approach is a means of communication that involves the entire staff by providing them with a voice in decision-making matters. The bottom-up approach gives a voice to all employees including Gen Z.
This form of inclusivity will foster a good relationship between you and the Gen Z-ers. By providing them with an active role in the company's process, they'd feel free to communicate their ideas and concerns to you.
Many companies have implemented an open-door policy in their work environment to encourage employee feedback and prevent organizational hierarchy from limiting effective communication. Together, you can make the most informed decision to increase the productivity and efficiency level in the company.
It is up to you now
Managing Gen Z employees will be demanding due to the change in dynamic you're experiencing with Gen Z. However, with effective communication and motivation, you will be able to bring the best out of them.
Their productivity levels will justify why they currently the most sought after generation to take over the workforce if you can:
- Pay close attention to them with daily interactions and feedback
- Promote honesty and transparency in the workplace
- Treat Gen-Zers as equals
- Leverage online communication channels
- Allow bottom-up communication