Just as we’ve started to get a handle on Gen Z in the workplace, a new wave of talent is already on the horizon. But before we tackle this next generation, managers and leaders need to get a better understanding of what it is that keeps Gen Z engaged.
By 2020, the Gen Z population will reach 2.56 billion. For companies to capitalize on the valuable skillsets within this group, they need to first understand the unique characteristics behind those skillsets—make no mistake, this can be a complex undertaking.
So, Who is Generation Z?
Despite common beliefs, Gen Z isn’t just a next-level Millennial.
This group is actually inclined to be much more private and reserved—making them harder to engage than their Millennial counterparts. In fact, 70% of Generation Z would rather talk to just about anyone other than their boss about their problems.
Additionally, where Millennials are eager to job-hop, Gen Z-ers seek career safety. Not only are 77% of the younger generation willing to work harder than their predecessors, but they’ll actively seek out advancement too.
Generation Z looks for an environment where they can be independent and showcase their true potential, and their competitive attitude, desire to speak out and commitment to their careers make them incredible attributes to your advocacy team.
Of course, before you can recruit these social warriors, you’re going to need a strategy to earn their loyalty and bring them out of their shell.
Gen Z in the Workplace: They Have a Voice, Let Them Use It
Despite the complexity that comes with welcoming Gen Z in the workplace, leaders need to recognize that these professionals can be a powerful addition to branding and the company’s voice.
Generation Z grew up alongside a political climate that was pretty unstable and rocky at times. Their experiences have shaped them into one of the most important demographics responsible for encouraging a more inclusive outlook on life. As a result, they expect to be included in important initiatives at work.
Gen Z doesn’t just want to work for a salary, they want to feel engaged in the office, and know how their efforts are impacting the bottom line. That means that executive leaders can be clear about the value of things like employee advocacy campaigns, they can rest assured that Gen Z will be the first to get on board.
Additionally, while Generation Z might be a private group, they’re also willing to offer feedback when it matters. In fact, around half of Gen Z shoppers say that they give reviews frequently.
So, how do you take advantage of Gen Z’s desire for inclusion, while overcoming the issues that might hold them back from advocacy?
Step 1: Support Your True Digital Natives
Millennials have traditionally been described as the “digital natives” of our community. However, with Gen Z in the workplace, we’re starting to see what a digital nomad really looks like. These employees have been living in a world of connectivity and smartphones for as long as they can remember, so it’s not surprising that 92% of them have a digital footprint.
The fact that Gen Z can comfortably embrace new technologies means that they could even lead the wave of adoption as you introduce employee advocacy software into your business. These professionals pick up software easily, and move seamlessly between platforms, inspiring and educating other staff members along the way.
Give Gen Z a chance to be the first-adopters in your digital transformation strategy, and you’ll find that they motivate your workers across the board.
Step 2: Embrace the Omnichannel
With most demographics, it’s important to introduce employee advocacy programs one step at a time, allowing your workforce to get comfortable with the motion. However, an immediate omnichannel approach might be more conducive with Gen Z in the workplace.
Research shows that 85% of this demographic learn about products and services on social media, and they’re 59% more likely to engage with their favorite brands on these channels too. Though older employees might be more comfortable with platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, Gen Z approach sharing from a visual perspective, sharing moments on SnapChat and pictures on Instagram.
Employers could even recruit Generation Z for YouTube marketing strategies, as this group is 2x more likely to turn to video for help than their Millennial peers. If you want to really get the most out of your Gen Z staff, don’t just assume they want to use the same platforms as their coworkers. Ask them which channels they work best in.
Step 3: Take Advantage of Gen Z’s Competitive Nature
As a group, Millennials are often described as teamwork-oriented and collaborative. They’re quick to work in an environment where inclusion is the standard, and where everyone comes together to advance brand goals. While Gen Z gravitate towards inclusion, they’re also defined by their competitive nature and are keen to advance on their own merits and skills.
The competitive nature of Gen Z makes them the ideal additions to an advocacy strategy that’s all about results and brand reach. The trick is making sure that you support healthy rivalry within your team, without making it hard for staff members to get along.
Gamification in the employee advocacy strategy could be the key to inspiring Gen Z. As long as you measure the right metrics and give everyone a chance to shine, then the promise of rewards for high-performers are sure to drive incredible results from Generation Z.
Try offering prizes for employees with the greatest engagement on posts, or the largest number of new conversions.
Step 4: Let Them be Independent
Not only are Gen Z a more competitive group than their predecessors, but they value their independence too. This demographic prefers office space to themselves, and that demonstrates some of their private nature. They’re also incredibly entrepreneurial, and ready to do whatever it takes to rise through the ranks at a firm.
Interestingly, some Gen Z staff will even skip higher education if they think it will support them better in the workforce. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t want constant opportunities to develop their skills. Just like the millennials that came before them, they expect plenty of opportunities for training on the job.
Rather than micro-managing your Gen Z advocates, make sure that they have the training they need to implement your program, then leave them to explore their independence.
Step 5: Provide Praise & Recognition
Remember, this generation is ready to work hard, but they expect to be rewarded for it. Recognition is something that’s growing increasingly important in the average business, for every demographic. With Gen Z in the workplace, it’s not enough for brands to only offer feedback once a year.
Importantly, while your staff might be willing to share their thoughts and feelings about your brand on social media, they expect a face-to-face approach from coworkers and managers. If you want to praise your Gen Z workers, then you need to be willing to look them in the eye when you’re thanking them for a job well done.
Gen Z is all about establishing real connections in the workforce. While this might mean that managers need to take more time out of their busy schedule, it also builds an affinity with employees that they’re unlikely to forget. Since the best employee advocacy comes from team members who truly love the company they work for, it makes sense to go the extra mile.
Step 6: Don’t Underestimate Them
While the private and independent nature of Generation Z might make them seem less appealing for an employee advocacy strategy, the truth is that this demographic just needs a different approach to their peers. For instance, Gen Z are more likely to use Snapchat thanks to its time-bound content. This means that your younger demographic might be perfect for connecting with a brand-new audience.
Additionally, while other employees in your space might feel overwhelmed adding the task of employee advocacy to their already-busy schedules, Gen Z are ready to embrace the challenge. These younger employees are used to constantly switching between apps to keep with notifications, making them great at multitasking and time-management.
If you’re looking for employee advocates that are ready to manage brand reputation quickly, respond to customer queries, and connect on new channels, then Gen Z in the workplace could be the answer to your problems.
Making the Most of Gen Z in the Workplace
Every generation is complicated in its own way. Managers need to come to terms with the preferences and expectations of each employee to ensure the best long-term results.
Gen Z benefits from being the most-connected generation we’ve seen up until this point, which means that they’re perfect for a digitally-focused employee advocacy program. What’s more, the financial challenges of their parents have pushed Gen Z to search for a company they can show true loyalty to in their career.
If you can combine the competitiveness and connectedness of Gen Z, with their desire for security and inclusion at work, then you’ll have a team of advocates ready to take your brand strategy to the next level.