Millennials and Gen Z
We recently started talking about the unusual situation that many businesses find themselves in as they juggle workers of four different generations (and their corresponding culture and motivations). What tends to work for employees in one generation might have the opposite effect with another, so many of the old school rules are falling by the wayside and one-size-fits-all management styles are no longer effective.
Last time, we touched on the key personality traits of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Today, we focus on what makes those in the Millennial and Gen Z generation tick, and how you can use their differences to boost your business.
You might think of millennials as kids, but the oldest are pushing 40 and the youngest in the cohort have been done with their undergrad education for several years. In fact, millennials currently make up the majority of the workforce.
Millennials are comfortable with technology and constantly use it to engage in multiple forms of communication, so they expect the same from their workplace, with open and frequent feedback being a top priority. Like their predecessors in Gen X, millennials also prefer less face-to-face interaction.
Millennials have grown up to be multitaskers, so keep this in mind when delegating duties. They are more likely to have switched jobs or even entire career fields, so although many millennials may not have the same level of expertise as Baby Boomers or Gen Xers, they often come with a far broader frame of reference for looking at the world. Their unique transferable skills are often a boon to solving problems.
Just like diversity in the workforce is essential to expand your business or market your products in new and better ways, employees with a more varied work history can be an asset, if their talents are channeled correctly.
Millennials long to work for a business with a strong culture that fits their own ethics and ethos. A genuine work-life balance, consistent feedback (perhaps in the form of mentoring), professional development opportunities, and a job with meaning is what drives them. Top performers in the millennial generation are often very motivated to work for companies that give back in some way, whether through community service or a product they feel improves the world.
As tech savvy as millennials might be, chances are that Gen Z blows them out of the water. They’ve had access to a multitude of modern devices, the internet, and social media for the majority of their lives, so if you’re looking for someone to help take charge of your online presence, then one of your youngest employees may be your ideal point person.
Surprisingly, as completely accustomed to communication via technology as Gen Zs are, the majority actually prefer face-to-face interactions in a work setting. But don’t wait to sit them down to talk about their performance until an annual review—they prefer frequent feedback.
What makes Gen Z so different from some of the previous generations is that they came of age as many of their parents struggled during the recession and this has deeply impacted how they view money and careers. Although they crave recognition and reward, especially anything that will elevate social status, they know they have to work hard for it. They’re resilient and tend to have an impressive work ethic for their age, so don’t underestimate them.
Employees in Gen Z are eager to increase their knowledge and skills, though many are disillusioned by the traditional college path after watching millennials struggle. So, look into providing online tutorials to help them develop even more on-the-job skills.
Gen Zs tend to be a bit more skeptical of authority and higher institutions, so provide them with an open, honest, and stable work environment where they feel supported and encouraged to grow.
You shouldn’t think of the differences between your employees’ generations as a problem, but rather a solution. Put your Baby Boomer employees into mentorship positions, hand off the independent projects to Gen Xers, task millennials with creative problem-solving, and supplement the knowledge of your Gen Z employees to take advantage of their eagerness to learn and succeed on their own merits, especially with anything tech-related.