How Can Companies Engage and Motivate Gen Z Employees?

Today’s organizations face a new challenge: understanding and harnessing the potential of the Gen Z workforce. According to the most recent data, Gen Z will exceed boomers in the workforce this year, leading to a significant cultural transformation. These younger workers bring a unique set of skills, perspectives and preferences to the workplace. And with this cultural transformation, businesses will need to adapt to accommodate and leverage the strengths of this dynamic generation. 

Who is Gen Z?

First, let’s define who Gen Z is. Approximately 32% of the global population, “Gen Z” is made up of people born between 1997 and 2012. They’re the first generation to grow up with the internet as a part of daily life; they prioritize work-life balance and require flexibility; and they spend a large portion of their days on social media. 

A McKinsey article states that 77% of Gen Z respondents consider work-life balance crucial when considering job opportunities. Another study reports more than half spend 4+ hours per day on social media. And an Ogilvy study says 70% prioritize their mental health.

Leverage Online Communication Tools

As the first generation of “digital natives,” Gen Z has a unique proficiency in and adoption of online communication tools. Born into the digital age and raised amid the rapid evolution of technology, they can seamlessly navigate and leverage various digital platforms, showcasing an innate understanding of the intricacies of online communication. The prevalence of online communication tools among Gen Z members translates into a preference for digital collaboration, where virtual meetings and real-time communication channels are not just preferred but considered essential components of their work environment. 

Internal data from data analytics platform, Prodoscore, indicates that activities involving audio or video communication contribute heavily to overall productivity. In fact, the more diverse interactions an employee has (the number of collaborators), the more productive they're likely to be (based on Prodoscore’s scoring unit and other inputs). 

Usage of different collaboration tools like chat, email and video is driven by how much someone wants to connect and work with others (their propensity towards collaboration). So, the higher interest in those collaboration tools may actually result in higher productivity among Gen Zers. To capitalize on this, organizations should invest in and actively encourage the use of those online communication tools, not only to cater to Gen Z preferences but also to foster a more inclusive and connected work environment in general.

Make Flexibility a Priority

Gen Z places a high priority on flexibility regarding their work location and schedule. They value having the freedom to manage their work hours and remote work opportunities and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Employers lacking flexible work policies may encounter challenges in both attracting and retaining Gen Z talent. In fact, a 2022 LinkedIn survey found that 72% of Gen Zers are most likely to have either left or would consider leaving a job because their employer did not offer flexibility - higher than millennials, Gen X and boomers. 

Favorably, Prodoscore data suggests that a hybrid work environment is the most productive. Although hybrid workers tend to be more productive on days that they’re in the office than at home, the freedom to work in a way that works for them likely pushes those employees to make the most of those hours on-site. 

Harness the Full Potential of Your Gen Zers

Gen Z is renowned for its creativity and innovative thinking. In fact, a 2020 poll found that 56% of Gen Zers consider themselves creative compared to 44% of millennials. Encouraging a culture of innovation and providing platforms for creative expression can yield massive benefits. This could involve brainstorming sessions, hackathons or other initiatives that empower Gen Z employees to contribute their ideas and solutions. Innovation fosters resourcefulness within a team as its members devise novel approaches to enhance productivity. A creatively inclined team harnesses its full spectrum of skills and abilities to attain objectives. 

Acknowledging and implementing the ideas of Gen Zers not only boosts morale but also brings diverse and innovative solutions to the forefront. This proactive approach to embracing new ideas aligns with the ethos of the future of work, where adaptability and innovation are essential for staying competitive in a rapidly changing business landscape. 

Research is mounting about how difficult Gen Z workers are to work with. But, if we make minor adjustments to create a more accepting work environment, they don’t have to be. Organizations must be willing to tailor strategies that align with the unique characteristics and preferences of this generation. And, with the help of various research and objective data, leaders can take stock of valuable insights into the patterns and trends that will guide businesses in optimizing their approach to productivity, creativity and employee morale.

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