Managing Generation Z

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By Dr. Sabrina Brandon Ricks, SBR Leadership Services

The study of differences among generations has become quite popular over the past decade.  The up-and-coming generation that will soon dominate the workforce is Generation Z, also known by Dr. Jean Twenge as iGen.   The “i” in iGen stands for a number of words such as individualistic, income inequality, internet, insecure, inclusive, independent, and in no hurry.  These descriptions provide an overview of what you will tend to find in the individuals that make up this generation.

According to Robin Paggi and Kay Clowes, the iGen group was born between 1995 and 2012.  At this point, the oldest of this generation is turning 28 years old in 2023.  When it comes to focusing the workplace on the future, this group has to be at the forefront of the conversation.  Although Generation Y, or the Millennial generation (born between 1977 and 1994), currently dominates the workforce at approximately 35%, the iGen will quickly take its place within the next seven to ten years.  It is time to best determine how to select, hire, manage, and maintain this group that will soon lead our workforce. Here are a few tips to help organizations best meet the needs of iGen:

Ensure They Feel Welcome

The iGen highly values inclusivity.  Your organization should go above and beyond to make new hires feel welcome from the first day, throughout orientation, and beyond. You may want to have balloons on their desk on day one, a hand-signed card, or any other welcome celebration to exemplify that you are happy they are there. Once individuals from this generation feel they are not a part of the team, they will very quickly quit your organization.  Any business owner or manager knows that turnover is expensive, so once you hire someone you surely want to keep them.  Inclusivity is the way to go.

Training

Many individuals from the iGen group did not work while in high school, so your job may be the first experience they have in the workplace, although they may be 19 or 20 years old.  Do not assume they know expected dress code or how you would expect them to answer the phone.  You will need to teach them everything that you expect of them and make no assumptions about anything.  Allow time for demonstrations and questions.  Provide them with a teammate to shadow.  Do not allow them to feel that they are in this alone.

Trust Them and Allow Innovation

Once the individual from iGen has been properly trained, believe in them and trust them.  They want to show you that they can be independent and come up with ideas on their own.  They are the most technically savvy group ever and can help your organization grow in areas of social media, graphic design, web design, and more.  Trust their abilities and instincts and you may be pleasantly surprised at all they have to offer once they feel connected and valued.

Avoid Problems

The iGen group is least likely to seek and participate in confrontation.  They avoid problems and like to keep things as peaceful as possible.  They have already seen enough problems through politics, school shootings, possibly issues at home and otherwise, and they tend to stray as far away from problems as possible.  Problems can cause great anxiety for them and lead to depression and reduced performance in the workplace.  Be sure to provide them with resources from human resources, your employee assistance program, an anonymous tip line, a union, or otherwise and assure them they are safe in your organization and that you care about their well-being.

Check In and Communicate

The iGen group loves to talk to management, share ideas, learn about you, learn about the organization, and truly values an open-door policy.  Due to their comfort with inclusivity, they tend to view everyone on the same level and prefer a flat structure in the organizational chart where they are few to no levels between them and upper management.  The best thing to do is talk to them periodically about how they feel in the organization, what you can do to make the environment more comfortable for them and show them your efforts in meeting their needs.

The importance of learning how to invite and work with the iGen group that will soon dominate the workforce cannot be stressed enough.  For more details and training for working with this generation and other generations, contact SBR Workplace Leadership Services.  Feel free to subscribe to the page to stay up to date on offerings and events.   Visit the website for details.

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