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Generation Z Is Entering Your Workforce: Do You Understand How to Harness Their Unique Skills?


By Jon Forknell, AllBusiness.com

Generation Z is no longer on its way into the workplace—it’s already arrived. The members of Gen Z have their own style and characteristics, already influencing one-fourth of the work world this year. If you want your business to be competitive, you’ll need to adapt your training methods to Gen Zers’ style.

This class of employees was born into a world of dynamic and rapidly changing technology. They know nothing different and blithely switch between various media. Saturated in technology, they have evolved into high-access, multimedia users. They can watch a video and check social media while texting a friend and having a conversation, too—all at the same time.

Multitasking and information accessibility are hallmarks of the generation. They excel at juggling multiple tasks seamlessly, and they prefer to do it with others. Collective projects, real-time communication, and open-style work spaces appeal to them as cooperative, communicative, and productive.


Make training real and personal

As a group, Generation Z desires challenging and meaningful work. Unlike the millennials’ reputation for expecting an award for everything, Gen Zers are willing to work hard for less. They do expect companies to be loyal to them, but they also want immediate feedback on their performance. This fits naturally into a training program.

However, they initially must share some mutually agreed-upon goal with the company. A socially-responsible and technologically-rich organization will engage Gen Zers on both a personal and technological level. Buying into an organization’s plans and causes is elemental in getting Gen Zers on board and dedicated. Guide your training to reflect this dual need.

First and foremost, give these employees a good reason for the training you provide. Because collaboration is valued, for example, providing that legally-required training course on sexual harassment shouldn’t be only about checking a box on your list of HR tasks to deal with. Instead, explain the “why” in the training to Gen Z new hires To work well together, recognize the value of a harassment-free work environment, and take personal responsibility for creating a safer society. These goals will resonate.

If a training course is more skills-oriented, successfully trained employees will benefit both themselves and the company. When training is presented as a personal and a collaborative win, Gen Z employees will participate readily. As they become advocates for a shared goal, the training is more relative and meaningful to them, and their productivity and cooperation will increase.

Collective face-to-face social interaction is also important to Gen Zers, so conduct training sessions in groups, if possible. Create interactive portions to develop relationships and learn at the same time.

Unfortunately, one drawback of this generation’s tech dependency can be less-developed verbal communication. Yet, they are a social group and prefer working with others, so even if they are a bit stunted in verbal communication, the interaction they crave will advance their ability to clearly communicate ideas and concepts. This improvement will serve them and the company.


Move fast or get out of the way

Exposure to rapid-fire information is the norm for Generation Z. Because of this, they are highly stimulated, socially aware, but a bit less focused, averaging only 8 seconds’ worth of attention on any advertisement, meme, or message. That is 50% less time than millennials spend focused, so employers must continue to pick up the pace and style of training formats to get the attention of this newer generation’s high expectations for fast, yet relevant, information.

Micro-learning, short bursts of information in various styles, is the best way to effectively train Generation Z employees. These small, digestible bites of information are visually engaging, fun to hear, and are more memorable than pages of guidelines and facts. Good methods to incorporate are:

High-tech presentations—This generation is tech-dependent—they simply absorb information faster when presented with appropriate technology. Lectures and pages of training manuals will not train them at the best and highest levels.

Mobile access—This is probably one of the most critical elements for Gen Zers. They are truly born with mobility as an expectation. A company that does not provide mobile access to training and progress will not be desired by this talented group of individuals. Develop mobile access to training modules, advancement, and feedback. Speedy feedback and availability to real-time training progress is expected.

Hands-on opportunities—Role-playing or on-the-job coaching is relevant and authentic, characteristics highly valued by Gen Zers. This old-style coaching fills the need for personal interaction while delivering valuable real-time information to the employee. But keep it short. Model a process, and let them jump in to replicate skills. It may not be tech-based, but it is personal and immediately valuable, both learning-style preferences for this generation.

Videos and mixed media—Visual images appeal to a group so accustomed to quick information. Memes, infographics, and videos under five minutes are the most effective. Even if the training topic is dry material, make it visually appealing, and keep it brief.

Mini games—Utilize game-playing to teach training concepts and create collaborative environments. Gen Z wants to learn from others, and short role-playing and games are good methods that demand only a few minutes of attention.

Push training reminders—After a training session, send out mobile, topical reminders of one-answer questions that will keep training topics fresh. For older generations, this quick training moment on a mobile device might be an interruption, but Generation Z easily flows from one information burst to the next and will appreciate the technology and fast format.

Immediate feedback—As a generation of game players and tech users, these employees expect feedback right away. An immediate response to their efforts matters to them and is highly effective for faster learning.  App-based training can provide this, so incorporate it in training modules.

To train Generation Z effectively, training methods clearly must be customized to accommodate these collaborative and tech-savvy employees. With shared and realistic goals, this dynamic and fast-moving group will demonstrate successful skills that will contribute to both their success and your company’s success.

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News: Generation Z Is Entering Your Workforce: Do You Understand How to Harness Their Unique Skills?
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