Introducing the new workforce: Gen Z (aka iGeneration)! By the year 2020, this youngest generation of workers, Gen Z employees, will account for 20 percent of the workforce. Born during or after 1995, the eldest are 23 years old and are already working side-by-side with four other generations: millennials (Gen Y), Gen X, baby boomers and the silent generation. The oldest millennials are 38 years old, so Gen Z has multigenerational leaders, challenging your organization to develop effective and productive communication systems, leadership skills, and training and development programs.
Every generation has different perspectives about employment and careers, so it’s time for you to dive into understanding Gen Z employees in order to maintain successful HR practices that engage the whole workforce.
Just when you’ve finally learned how to successfully engage millennials, along comes Gen Z. As the first digital-native generation, millennials have driven significant changes in the workplace, from workplace design to embracing social responsibility. Gen Z employees are entering the workforce as employees who are even more comfortable with technology, but their perspective on and experience with technology tools are much different from earlier generations.
A Deloitte study created an informative picture of these young people. Gen Z is skilled with technology. Unlike millennials, they grew up moving rapidly across a variety of technologies — smartphones, tablets and laptops — and social media programs – Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc. They are entering their careers at higher levels as most “typical” entry-level work is now automated.
Gen Z is very concerned about their ability to communicate and forge strong interpersonal relationships. This may be due to the fact that technology has negatively impacted their cognitive skill development, and they recognize that their social skills, like critical thinking and communication, are weak.
Gen Z absorbs information in small bites and is visually oriented. This has implications for your training and communication systems. Learning programs that deliver information in easily digested, intuitive modules are attractive to Gen Z employees. Adding soft skills development, such as problem-solving and leadership skills, to training and development can close technology-created gaps in communication skills. This begins with your onboarding program, which should initiate the education process for developing cognitive and communication skills — and continue through all your training programs.
You should use mixed training media that is visually stimulating, easy to access and use, flexible and available 24/7. Providing mobile access is critical to successful Gen Z training, and enables you to deliver continuous learning opportunities. Your managers will also need to hold in-person meetings to supplement the technology-based training and encourage Gen Zers to collaborate on designing work environments that enable people to work as teams, in person or through collaborative technologies.
Gen Z employees also value diversity and are attracted to employers who have similar values and will provide learning and experiential opportunities to work with people who have diverse backgrounds, origins and preferences. In this regard, they are quite similar to younger millennials. The Ernst & Young survey of Gen Z interns found that they prefer millennial managers over Gen X or Baby Boomer managers, likely because some of their perspectives intersect. Since it’s estimated that millennials and Gen Z employees will make up approximately 75 percent of the workforce by the year 2025, this will become a fact of life anyway.
Your leaders need skills that enable them to create a cohesive, collaborative workforce within the context of a culture that embraces diversity and innovation. Could anything seem more challenging from an HR perspective?
Managing and motivating a four- or even five-generation workforce that is growing younger and older at the same time requires leaders who can build respect and trust among them. With top-down support, it’s the front-line leaders who maintain a positive corporate culture and engage employees. You want to develop leaders who can identify and promote shared values across the generations, creating a bond. A good leader is accessible, helps each employee understand the importance of their role, holds people accountable, challenges employees to perform at their highest level and meets their unique needs. An effective leader understands generational differences and leverages that knowledge to engage employees.
For example, baby boomers prefer face-to-face communication and Gen Z needs to develop interpersonal communication skills. Millennials and Gen Z are deeply interested in working for organizations that are socially responsible. Millennials use social media to collaborate. Gen Z employees are natural collaborators and use social media to facilitate real world connections. Both baby boomers and Gen Z desire face-to-face meeting opportunities.
Do your leaders develop mixed-age collaborative teams? Are younger and older workers given opportunities to interact with knowledge sharing from both directions? Do your managers know how to leverage the differing generational motivations to engage all employees? Do your leaders understand the importance of personalized communication skills? Do they have inclusive skills that strengthen employee engagement among all employee generations? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking about your organization’s leadership skills now to develop positive employee relations in a multigenerational workforce.
Finding common ground to bring people together based on their preferences and needs in a productive manner promotes cohesiveness and creates a foundation for leading a multigenerational team. You can develop customized employee videos, web training and eLearning programs that deliver information in a desired format and leadership training programs that address connecting with and managing a multigenerational workforce.
A multigenerational workforce will be a fact of life for decades to come. Consider this: In 16 years, the oldest of Gen Alpha, the next generation, will be 21 years old and entering the workforce. Learning how to connect with a multigenerational workforce now will prepare your organization to engage all employees well into the future.
Employee engagement is a persistent problem for organizations around the world for many reasons. They include increasing use of remote workers, technology that makes interpersonal communication less personal, generational differences in work expectations and communication styles, the inability to clearly separate work and personal lives, poor leadership skills and employees feeling undervalued.
Engagement exists when empowered employees feel connected to their work and the organization, but each person in your organization experiences engagement in a different way. For this reason, developing high engagement levels begins with developing an organizational “social mindset” in which a sense of community is created. Unions have mastered this concept, making their members feel like they’re in an exclusive club with leaders who really listen, and will champion their causes and go to bat for them when issues arise. Unions regularly communicate with their members, using social media tools and personal meetings, to keep the connection strong and inspire feelings of empowerment. The union social mindset is a bond that unites everyone around a common cause.
Social factors are important to all employees but especially to millennials. They’re always connected via social media, but social media by itself isn’t guaranteed to engage people or promote optimal communication. Too many employers miss the link between a social mindset and engagement. Social media is an engagement tool, but if your organization doesn’t develop a social mindset, your employees won’t utilize the social tools to their greatest advantage. Your employees’ behaviors are indicative of a lack of social mindset. For example, low utilization of an enterprise-wide social media system or lack of response to a manager’s feedback on a project in progress or failure to participate on coworker teams, are a few indications that your employees don’t view themselves as important contributors to a cohesive team of workers.
An organization with a social mindset focuses on its people and is key to creating a culture of inclusion in which people thrive. Creating an organization with a social mindset requires giving people the right tools, but the tools must empower people to learn what they need and want to learn to achieve the highest performance level and to learn when they want to learn. It must be a collaborative learning journey in which people learn from each other, and have access to on-demand learning and access to internal and external communities that enable continuous learning. A social mindset means employees utilize all online and offline social systems to autonomously manage their jobs with a clear understanding of how their work contributes to organizational goals. They see themselves as proactive team members doing important work.
Engagement actually emanates from the ability of employees to self-empower. Your organization is unique from all others. It’s why you’ve achieved competitive success. The uniqueness drives the need for the development of an internal communication system that specifically resonates with your employees. The communication system consists of tools that are available to the entire workforce; consistent, tailored messaging; regular management feedback; and leaders with effective communication skills. Engaging your workforce in a meaningful way also requires providing content that adds value to their work and is easily understood.
Millennials prefer information delivered quickly and with visual aids, and user-friendly communication platforms that include video, web, and eLearning communication tools. Of course, mobile platforms are a necessity in the eyes of your younger employees. This creates the seamless communication system that accommodates the ‘where and when’ learning and communication needs. Engaging employees requires you to encourage all people to participate in the business, including remote workers, and to provide opportunities for improving processes. Meetings can encourage people to ask questions rather than expecting people to passively learn the material. Technology-based training programs are interactive. Leader feedback encourages stretch thinking. This is how you develop a social learning organization.
Various researchers have determined that employee engagement recognizes an employee’s psychological state, behaviors, and linkages between engagement and employee satisfaction. Satisfaction is not enough though. Engaged employees are committed to the organization’s mission, self-motivated and passionate about their work. Your organization’s communication system is an essential element in the engagement process, but only if it stimulates constructive conversations and positive behaviors.
Southwest Airlines is an example of a company that has created a social mindset. Employees are encouraged to collaborate, participate in decision-making and explore work activities outside their regular jobs. Employees across the organization were encouraged to share new ideas for uniforms, and one of the flight attendants chosen to participate on a final design committee called it an “unforgettable experience.” Southwest Airlines considers social media as a means for relationship building with and between employees and customers because it gives the company the ability to connect people across teams and cultures.
Airbnb creates an employee experience which considers physical, emotional, aspirational, intellectual and virtual (collaborative technologies) aspects. The collaborative technologies are used to communicate the company culture and hold an online live-streamed weekly meeting, and employees are encouraged to use WhatsApp to share learning, photos, and insights. This enables the company to create a social mindset by opening communication up to all employees around the world.
Previously a labor organizer, author Jane McAlevey shared her experiences and perspectives on union organizing in “Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)” and proposed a union-building operational model in “No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age.” She points out that mobilizing may bring large numbers of people into the battle for employee rights but these are people already committed. To build a strong union, its leaders must expand its base to include ordinary people who were never involved in organizing. They do this by helping ordinary people understand they hold the power and can achieve desired outcomes.
Her basic operating model has several major elements that include: deep organizing in which indifferent people are attracted; full-worker organizing in which all working people are made to understand they are members of a community and have untapped potential; building unity across classes of people; developing organic leaders who create a social force capable of exercising power; and tracking every worker’s participation in the workplace and the community to better engage them in the union learning and development processes.
McAlevey’s model is an engagement model. As an employer, you must understand an engaging communication system in your organization makes it possible for all employees to participate, exercise their power to contribute to organizational success and create a social force. The social mindset encourages people to fully participate in the communication process by providing context.
It’s not a passive system. It proactively embraces the disengaged, drawing them into the community of the already engaged. The communication skills of your leaders are crucial to the development of a social mindset. You want your employees to join your organizational efforts to remain innovative, competitive and successful, instead of joining a union. It’s the path to union proofing your business.
Facebook Live is already being utilized as a powerful marketing tool that connects customers with brands and services. But as people become comfortable with it, more and more businesses are now using the live video streaming service for their internal communications.
Rather than hold extensive meetings that take staff away from their duties, these companies are using Facebook Live to get their message out to employee teams quickly and efficiently.
As most people are comfortable with Facebook already, a Live can be very effective at improving employee relations — particularly in the case of union organizing activity. Answering questions, dispelling myths and educating employees all take on a additional degree of credibility and honesty when they’re addressed Live.
If your employees are engaged and valued, they’re less likely to turn to a union – or any outside, third party – to solve internal issues.
We have some great ways you can use Facebook Live to maintain healthy and productive relationships with your entire workforce. Throughout, we’ll also provide you with some great tips (that savvy marketers know) that also apply to connecting with employees – starting with the idea of promoting your own online event!
PRO TIP: About a day in advance, let employees know you’ll be hosting the Live. Tease the content without giving it away, and be sure to make them feel like they’re IN on the company’s latest news!
Your managers can create intimate impromptu meetings at any time with Facebook Live — regardless of where they or your employees are! This can be an effective way to solicit ideas, deliver positive feedback and quickly update the team on business goals. Remember too that these meetings take on a whole different feel when they’re done as a Live. No more awkward conference calls that drag on for what seems like forever! Employees can post questions in the comments, which can be addressed live or even individually after the broadcast is over.
PRO TIP: Keep it short! Don’t expect employees to stick around forever – keeping your broadcast in the 2-3 minute range is ideal.
If you’re used to making big company announcements to employees via email, consider the impact of making that announcement live. Make an event of it for employees who are able to be there, and broadcast Live for those who aren’t. Gathering employees together for a Facebook Live broadcast ensures nothing is lost in translation, everyone hears the same message, and it can help improve morale and engagement.
Atlanta-based Jackson Healthcare used Facebook Live in May of last year to share their ground breaking ceremony with employees. They learned that many more employees viewed the Live after it was over than tuned in while it was happening!
PRO TIP: Expand your audience when the news is good – you can use internal company announcements to make customers and the public feel like part of your success story. Facebook will allow you to “boost” your Live post to an audience of your choosing to make an even bigger splash after the event.
All too often, employees in large companies know nothing of what happens in other departments or locations. By broadcasting tours of various departments and interviewing key personnel, you can give everyone a flavor of what goes on in seemingly remote areas of the business.
PRO TIP: Even if you’re mobile during your live, be sure to use the highest production values possible. Use a gimbal and an external mic, also be sure your internet connection is strong no matter where you’ll be – and of course, be sure your battery is fully charged!
People often feel more emboldened to ask awkward questions when there is safety in numbers. You can give your employees an open forum to get their questions answered by holding Q&A sessions via Facebook Live.
Sometimes it’s even more effective to give them the opportunity to submit questions a day (or at most, two) prior to your Live. Allow them to submit via email, suggestion box or anonymous online form. This gives you the opportunity to review the questions and craft your answer, particularly helpful during a union organizing drive!
This format also has the secondary benefit of bringing in a larger audience, as people often want to hear the answer to the question they’ve submitted!
PRO TIP: When you do a Live meeting, have someone assist by manning the comments. That person doesn’t have to be in the same room as you, but they can post relevant links as well as make sure questions get answered in real-time.
Whether you’re holding a meeting or a Q&A session, there are a few practical tips that should make your next internal Facebook Live broadcast engaging and informative.
Even if you’re not doing a Q&A format, use the hours before your broadcast to gather questions, ideas and discussion topics from your employees. To keep things organized, join companies like Walmart, Dominos and Starbucks by using the new Facebook Workplace app for the entire process.
There are also several other technical tips to bear in mind when communicating with employees via Facebook Live. For example, you should test your lighting levels with other Facebook users in advance. If you’re using your phone’s forward-facing camera, things may be backward! If you’re holding up any documents or demonstrating anything, remember that it’s a mirror image your audience sees. Finally choose a location that is conducive to the type of broadcast you’ll be creating, including external noise, and attractive (and non-distracting) backgrounds.
It’s important to use Facebook Live as an interactive tool. Be ready to respond to comments as and when they’re written, and address commenters by name when you reply.
The way the world’s largest companies communicate with their employees is changing, and this was demonstrated recently by Delta Air Lines. The company wanted to thank all of its 80,000 employees for a great year, and did so with a 50-hour Facebook Live broadcast.
Marie Osmond, Jeff Foxworthy, Naya Rivera and other celebrities took turns to thank each and every one of Delta’s employees by name. The mammoth broadcast also featured world record attempts, entertainers and coverage of art creation. Delta’s so-called “Big Thank You” was communicated to business partners, customers and employees using the #DeltaProud Twitter hashtag — thus maximizing viewing figures.
Whether you’ve got big news, regular updates, or you’re just keen to keep your organization union-free, communicating with your workforce via Facebook Live can help you to maintain an open, honest and mutually respectful working environment.
Forging meaningful connections via social media is a goal of most people. It’s not just individuals though; about 50 percent of large companies and 75 percent of small businesses use social media.
Companies use social media largely to increase brand awareness or as marketing and sales tools. However, it can also be an excellent way to engage your workers meaningfully.
In the past, monitoring the reputation of your company was more of a word-of-mouth process. In addition, you could look at your BBB rating, scan the newspapers, and, more recently, run a Google search for the company name. However, none of these actions can give you an accurate picture of how the public and other business owners perceive your company. You need to actively use technology to keep an eye on your business’s reputation. Here are three simple but highly effective strategies you can implement today.
Subscribing to an RSS (Rich Site Summary), rather than checking individual websites on your own can save you hours of investigation. First, you will need to choose an RSS Reader such as Newsgator, Amphetadesk and My Yahoo. Then, when you visit a favorite Web page, you can choose the RSS icon. In the future, the site’s content will be delivered to your reader automatically, saving you time and serving as a constant reminder to read pertinent articles about your company.
Setting up Google alerts for your company is another simple and effective way to monitor your company’s online presence. Google will send you an email each time the keywords you choose show up in Google content. For instance, you can simply put a name in quotation marks (“Your Business”) and that exact phrase will trigger a Google alert. However, you need to do more than set a Google alert for the company name. You should also set Google alerts for the names of your company’s leaders, top customers, and any products you manufacture.
Unfortunately, websites are hacked daily. Google Alerts can help you guard against unpleasant public fallout if you set certain keywords. You can set up a string of words like “sex” followed by your website name. If improper content shows up on the site, you will be instantly alerted and can take steps to correct the situation.
Glassdoor.com is a website that promotes transparency in the workplace. Employees, current and potential, can sign up for the website to look for jobs, find proper salary ranges, and check employer reviews. If you want to recruit the best employees, staying abreast of your company’s reviews is particularly important.
Employers need to know how their employees perceive them and to take corrective action if company morale is low. You are unlikely to get the full truth by interviewing your own staff, but employees will be blunt when they can voice their opinions anonymously. Remember to check Glassdoor once a week and keep an open mind about what you find there. Truthful feedback is the best way to cultivate positive employee relations.
When you are union-free, staying abreast of your employees’ feelings is crucial. If you want to be UnionProof, your company must provide a healthy, happy workplace with high employee satisfaction. In addition, you must be fully aware of public perception of your company to stay competitive. Monitoring your company’s online reputation protects the business and employees by enabling you to adjust your practices and do damage control by advancing good press relations.
Your human resources department can save the company much grief by being alert to the online content out there, both positive and negative. These simple actions can give you the information you need to protect your company’s online presence and stay ahead of both competitors and union organizers.