If you’ve been tuned into the mass media over the last few years, you might be surprised to learn that the youngest people in the workplace today aren’t Millennials. No, the oldest Millennials turned 40 this year, which means many are thoroughly settled in the workplace and have even risen to leadership positions.
Today’s youngest professionals are actually members of Gen Z and, even compared to Millennials, this group of workers has a very different relationship to technology and communication than those who came before them.
The question, then, is how will your workplace adapt to this new generation of workers?
Gen Z workers grew up entirely online, even more so than younger Millennials. The internet was a fully developed space by the time they were old enough to log on, and it has made them exceedingly adaptable. They know how to use just about any tech tool you throw their way, or can learn it quickly. That being said, they also have a lot of opinions about that technology.
Take the recent shift to remote work as an example. Millennial and Gen Z workers were well-equipped for this shift from a technical perspective, with many familiar with platforms like Slack and Zoom, or at least other video chat tools. That doesn’t mean these workers like those tools, though, and one reason for that is that younger workers have a better grasp of what technology is suitable for different types of communication. And, if you listen to these workers, your office may learn to use the available tools more wisely, too.
Think Mobile First
Of all the many tools available to workplaces and particularly to Gen Z workers, one obvious conclusion is that mobile tools are the most important. This is true for a number of reasons, but it’s an important factor to account for when designing training programs and, of course, communicating about key issues like benefits. If you want your younger employees plugged into the goings-on in your office, choosing mobile approaches will help.
The Text Edge
Text messages may seem oddly retro compared to some of the new platforms available to businesses today, but unlike a lot of other technology, they’ve stood the test of time, and more business should be using them. There are even targeted workplace SMS tools that can help make mass communications easier. People read and respond to text messages faster and more consistently than any other format, and the younger your workforce, the more effective this tool will be.
The Return Of Boundaries
Over the last decade or two, especially with the increased use of smartphones with email access, work-life boundaries have eroded. Many professionals function as though they’re on the clock 24/7, even in industries where that really isn’t necessary. Well, Gen Z seeks to reverse this new norm. Expect younger workers to set digital communications boundaries, even as they’re constantly connected to their devices. Contrary to popular belief, Gen Z workers are also more likely to find in-meeting device use disrespectful after a lifetime of having their devices banned from the classroom.
While every workplace is different and every worker has their own style, generational norms can still go a long way towards helping leadership make sense of what works and what doesn’t.
Still, as we all continue to adjust to new workplace setups, including more remote or hybrid work, taking the tech preferences and knowledge of younger workers into account can benefit everyone.