We’re living at a time when technology and digital are enabling evolutionary leaps. This evolution has caused generational a divide that holds both promises and perils for the business. After years of discussing millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers at work, leaders and HR are bracing themselves to embrace a new group of young people poised to make their mark on the world, Gen Z.
Thomas Koulopoulos and Dan Keldsen, in their book, “The Gen Z effect” characterize ‘Gen Z’ as individuals who are tech-savvy, hyper-connected, educated, and unified.
The book highlights that the difference between this generation and the earlier generations is their seamless alliance with technology and related beliefs and attitudes.
But the truth is no one generation is homogenous. Each one shares general traits and individual exceptions are commonplace. Interests and personalities transcend generations.
Eliminating the generational divides will help in accelerating the benefits to the organization and the society as a whole. The authors of the book, The Gen Z say that "Creative destruction is often necessary to construct a better future. Reaching across generational gulfs will enable us to not only better understand the human condition overall, but also better our professional relationships and business prospects."
Here are a few tips for HR and business leaders:
- Embrace Transparency:
Hyper-connectivity is here. Technology has enabled employees to accomplish work regardless of their physical location. Hyper-connectivity has also equipped transparency in the system. Embrace technologies that open the lines of communication to facilitate trust. Trust is no longer a given, and it’s certainly no longer based on one’s status as an elder or an authority figure.
- Reverse Mentoring:
Reverse mentoring can be a great way to engage the younger workforce to mentor their senior counterparts. The goal here is to build a basic comfort level across the organization. While implementing this program, managers must safeguard the reverse mentors’ inherent value, as they can, at times, feel defeated by their superiors.
Slingshotting occurs when those who have abstained from adopting certain technologies, whether by choice or involuntary circumstances, suddenly find themselves in the midst of immersive technology.
Create a baseline. Adopt or implement technology that everyone can be a part of. This method provides a foundation across the organization and engages and puts everyone on the same page. The ultimate deciding factor whether each generation will adopt technology is based on the tech being easy-to-understand, convenient, well-engineered, and optimized around people and their habits.
- Outside the box solution:
The authors explain that Gen Z has a propensity to “life-hack” the system, i.e., they question convention, and seek to work around customary ways of doing things. To Gen Z, life-hacking could entail finding cheaper or faster means of accomplishing goals or tackling grander goals from a new perspective.
This attitude should be exercised by each generation for promoting innovation at work. Promote a culture that allows all employees to analyze situation and challenges through a different lens. Employees should be willing to change potentially old routines, attitudes, and worldviews.
- Education for all:
Koulopoulos and Keldsen assert that “education is the single most important factor in separating or uniting us.” The disparity in the level of education divides generations. In the developed world, each living generation is, on average, more educated than its predecessors. Adopt newer methods and technologies to upskill employees to bridge the skill gap.
While implementing any program, make sure the aim is to develop new skills and ideologies, while nurturing personal relationships. The initiative should be bi-directional, allowing the different generations to learn from one another. Investing in bridging generational gaps will result in less conflict and a much stronger work culture.