GenZ are the digital generation

The GenZ generation has become known as the digital generation or ‘digital natives’. They’ve grown up with devices and through that have had access to more information, support, resources and people than any other generation. With them being so tech savvy it could be argued they are very well placed to cope and perhaps thrive in our new hybrid way of working. Furthermore, in terms of numbers,  those born after 1995 are set to make up a third of employees by 2025 so GenZ are set to have a very significant influence on the workplace. However, they also will face their challenges. 

So, how can we support them to succeed in the coming years?

Perhaps it would be useful to explore their opportunities and threats as a starting point.

Well, aside from their digital skills and knowledge, GenZ are also known to be very values-driven. Therefore, the workplace has to be aligned to their own personal morals and ethics. For previous generations a well paid job in a successful industry would have been the dream. However, for GenZ the sector or organisation’s values must be in alignment with their own or they will be unlikely to apply for jobs.

In addition, when it comes to supporting good causes GenZ are slightly different. Previous generations may have been more likely to make donations or volunteer, whereas GenZ have a stronger interest in rectifying the underlying causes of challenges. They want to get under the skin of them and be involved in establishing solutions. Within any organisation, having individuals with such a strong moral compass and desire to be involved in finding positive solutions to challenges could be a real asset.

Furthermore, diversity, equity and inclusion are also highly valued by the GenZ workforce. They have very strong views and are more likely to be campaigners or activists than other generations. It was incredibly inspiring to see the young people at the recent Cop 26 climate change conference in my home city of Glasgow taking such a strong stance in very large numbers. A Tallo survey highlighted that eighty eight percent of GenZs felt a recruiter or potential employer should solicit their gender pronouns. They want to see workplaces reflect their values and the diversity they see around them. All that brings higher standards and provides an opportunity for organisations to live and breath their values, which is something that previously many organisations really struggled with. Again, surely a great asset for organisations! 

So, my question is within your organisation how can you ensure that you are leveraging the wonderful strengths our GenZ workforce bring?

Here are some additional insights from research carried out on GenZ workers that you may be interested in:

Challenges faced by our GenZ workforce 

There are threats or challenges in the coming years that we need to be aware of when it comes to our GenZ workforce. Ironically, I’m going to loop back to the original point I made about GenZ being digital natives to highlight the biggest challenges.

Technology appears to be a double-edged sword. It has helped GenZ to have limitless communication with their peers. Therefore, it could be said that tech gives them connectedness. However, the same technology can lead to isolation without human contact. Remember GenZ said that they  do want human contact in the working environment. The potential impact of that can be lack of empathy, belonging, relationship building and feeling loved or cared for. All of those are important human needs that we all have.

Closely linked to those human needs are our human skills (also commonly known as ‘people skills’, ‘core skills’ or ‘soft skills’). Another significant challenge linked to technology is developing those so important human skills. Research has shown frustrations between generations in the workplace as GenZ prefer to communicate through technology. That can present difficulties when it comes to interpreting written communication and the potential for misunderstanding what is being said.

It is vitally important that we support our GenZ population to develop strong people skills to support them personally and professionally. We need to be aware of over-reliance on technology.

So, how can you help them develop their human skills?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Encourage them to go to events and socialise with peers
  • When appropriate ask them to phone, video call or meet up rather than text or email to have more human contact
  • Provide learning interventions that will develop their soft skills
  • Plan social events, retreats and team building activities
  • Encourage them to be curious, seeking to understand their colleagues and show empathy
  • Work with them on their communication skills, in particular, their active listening skills
  • Teach them the power of humility and vulnerability
  • Set time aside to coach and mentor them, and protect that time
  • Lead by example

What steps can you take to support the development of soft skills in your organisation?

At Potential In Me, our ‘Young Workforce Optimiser’ programme is specifically designed to develop the soft skills of young people. We would love to discuss how we can support your young people and managers. Click here for more information.