In our white paper “Are You Ready for Generation Z?” you will discover the impacts this new generation will have on the way we recruit, train and retain employees. In this article, we’ll discuss the generation’s strengths and weaknesses which may require you to make some changes in your training protocols.
Generation Z (born 1998 – 2005) is both more independent and more in need of skill-building than previous generations. Here are some of the factors you’re likely to encounter.
BE ready to help them build their soft skills
As the first generation of true digital natives, Generation Z brings the technological skills that are in high demand, even in entry-level positions. At the same time, 92% of HR leaders believe that having emotional and social skills is increasingly important. However, a side-effect of their constant online interaction is that many of them are deficient in soft skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and interpersonal relationships. Most of them (92%) acknowledge that this lack is a concern, while a third of managers surveyed believe they’ll be more difficult to train and manage.
Thus, their on-the-job training may have to include the development of these soft skills. A coaching or shadowing approach, borrowed from high-risk fields such as medicine, is recommended by some experts. Mentoring by an experienced staff member has the additional advantage of passing on tacit knowledge about the profession and the company.
Regular debriefings are well-suited to the Generation Z employee. This gives them the chance to practice their soft skills, such as delivering a presentation, analyzing a situation or collective learning. They also see how leadership thinks about company issues.
Increase your face-to-face feedback
Perhaps because they spend so much of their time in digital communications, Generation Z hungers for human contact. In fact, 72% of them prefer face-to-face communication at work.
Training and retaining Generation Z employees will probably require more frequent interaction from their direct supervisors. According to a Generational Kinetics survey, 60% of Generation Z want multiple check-ins from their manager during the week; of those, 40% want the interaction with their boss to be daily or several times each day.
Adjust to short attention spans
Marketing researchers have already discovered that Generation Z’s average attention span is the shortest ever: 8 seconds, as compared to 12 seconds for Millennials.
Formal training programs will be more successful if they’re developed and delivered with this in mind. Consider “snack-size” videos and digital interactive questionnaires as opposed to long lectures or reading materials.
Allow for self-directed learning
Generation Zers are used to doing their own online research, and 43% of them would prefer a fully independent approach to learning. Microlearning platforms such as 21mill.com may provide an ideal training solution.
Entrepreneurial in nature, 56% of Gen Zers would rather write their own job description and 72% want to start their own business. Thus, they’re looking to acquire a wide range of skill sets. Offering opportunities to “cross-train” in different company departments can be a significant strategy in recruiting and retaining the Generation Z employee.
5. It’s worth it: 61% say they will stay with employers 10+ years
It seems that training Generation Z will require a unique combination of high technology and human touch. Most important: the ROI is there when Gen Z already reports they are open to staying with an employer 10+ years. As this 61 million-strong generation comes on board, how we train and manage them will help us maximize our ROI on this valuable human capital.
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