Very soon Gen Y employees are going to outnumber the baby boomers. As the baby boomers are being phased out of our organizations, we are at the cusp of some great turmoil and change. Across the globe organizations have started to transform how they work. This is not only to cater to the needs of Gen Y but also to make the organizations future ready, to handle the Gen Z kid, who will soon be on board.
In a lot of ways Gen Z kid is an enigma. While the other generations have been pulled into a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, & Ambiguity) world, the Gen Z is growing up in one. A Gen Z kid is able to handle VUCA better as a fact of life. They do not want to minimize the effects but they plan to thrive in it.
Before we try to design a new work place for the Gen Z, we have to wear their shoes and try experiencing the world the same way they do:
1. Volatility: The Gen Z sees volatility not as a disadvantage but as an opportunity. They want their lives to be a series of adventures and this volatility keeps the excitement up for them. A recent research by CMO.com shows that Gen Z doesn’t worry a lot about future. Only 58 per cent of them are concerned about it. They are less likely to opt for stable long term careers.
Uncertainty: Fortunately the Gen Z has been gifted with tools to understand and minimize the effects of uncertainty. They leverage SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) based tools to ensure that they are buffered from uncertainty!
Complexity: Having been born and brought up in a complex world, this feature doesn’t bother them too much. They are inherently tuned to collaborate with each other and divide complex issues into simpler ones and solve them. They are more open to help each other and talk over social media to handle this better. The same research by CMO.com substantiates this with a stat that 32 per cent of Gen Z work with their classmates online and one-fifth of them educate themselves through online lessons!
Ambiguity: Gen Z is the most entrepreneurial yet! The CMO.com research says that 72 per cent of current high-schoolers want to own their own businesses. For these kids ambiguity is only a boon. They like to test many things and do not shy away from dirtying their hands. They resolve the questions of ambiguity of doing something and finding out if it works or not.
Now that we have understood how a Gen Z employee is likely to see this world, let us dwell on a few guidelines on how to prepare for Gen Z joining the workforce. We have to fall back on technology to deal with tech-savvy Gen Z. Given below are two crucial aspects that your work culture should have to absorb Gen Z and tech trends that will help you achieve it.
1. Allow them to dream big & help them achieve it
The new age employees have plenty of options. Their dreams are boundless and they have no intention of giving it up. A leader should understand that a new age employee aspires much more than his predecessor. It is wise to acknowledge that and encourage their dream. The organization succeeds when its employees succeed. The culture and processes we design should align the aspirations of the employee with the strategic goals of the organization. Unless we do that, the employee will find other greener pastures. People who complain about lack of loyalty in the millennial employees are people who have failed to do this. Remember, today employees cannot be taken for granted. Like customers, they have to be acquired & retained.
Tech trend to be leveraged: Big Data Analytics.
Organizations should create collaborative networks that will breakdown the hierarchy to ensure that the dreams of Gen Z are enabled. Organizations should adopt internal social networks and nominate social network champions or mentor to moderate discussions in these forums. By doing this, we are also creating a huge data bank, from which they draw actionable analytics.
Be open to entrepreneurial attitude
This generation is independent and innovative. The booming number of start-ups is a strong proof of it. Now is the time for us to reflect on factors regarding entrepreneurship that inspires this generation. Mostly, it is the ownership, opportunity to take accountability, the opportunity to take risk and the thrills of fast growth. If our new age work practices can take this into account, will we not be able to retain a top performer? Many organizations have embraced this practice, creating smaller business units which are autonomous and headed by youngsters. We should remember to create this agility.
Tech trend to be leveraged: Social Media
To understand the entrepreneurial attitude of Gen Z we again have to fall back on Social Media. We need to establish virtual spaces where your employees will speak up without fear of repercussions. Such a transparent platform will act as an incubator for ideas, which then can be executed and spun off into individual startups.
Create room for passion
Currently the market is such that a skilled person can and will earn to fulfill his physiological needs. This means in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, an employee is seeking to meet his higher needs. The differentiator for organizations would be the way we enable the employee to meet these higher needs. Simply put, today they don’t work for money; they work because they are passionate about what they do. This aspect needs to permeate all aspects of HR practices.
Tech Trend to be leveraged: Gamification
Organizations should not just focus on skill enhancement trainings, but also on passion enhancement or engagement enhancement for the Gen Z. This can be achieved by adopting new age training trends like gamification of learning. This approach is more effective because it will enable organizations to impart not only technical or functional trainings but also behavioral trainings which continue to be a challenge using the traditional training methods.
4. Design practices with Flexibility
Flexibility is often the most misunderstood term in this context. It clearly doesn’t mean flexible work timings. It is devolving the authority to decide the working style to the employee himself. A Gen Z employee wants to have a say in deciding:
- What to work on?
- Which domain to work in?
- How to work?
- When to work?
Futuristic work practices hence should be flexible enough for the employee to explore and shift. This is to say, they may not only change their roles but also their function. Hence, we should prepare to cross skill and not just up skill. We should always bear one critical point in mind: if we will not do it; there is always another player in the market who will do it. The world is waiting to welcome them with open arms.
Tech trend to be leveraged: Virtual Work Stations
Tomorrow it will no longer be necessary for an employee to walk in to your office and punch his entry. Instead organizations should adopt virtual workstations and allow employees to work from wherever they want and whenever they want. Gen Z will use WebEx, Skype and other interactive media to virtually work with their teams and achieve the desired goals.