While Gen Z may still be a tad young to have work environment preferences, much can be inferred based on the technologies available to them. By the time they reach the workplace, Gen Y and Gen Z will have grown up learning a significant amount of information online. Schools today are always implementing new ways to utilize technology into lesson plans and most colleges today keep conversations and collaboration online.
Through systems such as Blackboard, classes can be taught online and discussions between teachers and students can still take place without ever actually meeting. You can answer questions that the entire class can see virtually and others can comment on them. Similar to creating a workplace goal or project, these online discussions are built to provide a more collaborative class experience when a physical classroom is not possible. It is not uncommon to see professors implement online discussions if they face large lectures with hundred of students. An online discussion gives the professor a chance to monitor who is participating and the quality of the discussion they lead.
Aside from social media, online collaboration has taken over a large part of a young Gen Z’s life. Everything from grades, feedback, financials and interaction with professors are handled via e-mail or through online university portals for college students today. Instead of going to class to receive feedback for a paper or test, most college students today check their scores online and may even be able to see comments and feedback on projects and assignments. Some high schools are also loosely implementing such resources. With this amount of online collaboration leading up to their work careers, Gen Y appreciates collaborative work spaces that build off ideas from colleagues and teams.
So what can your workplace do to facilitate the preferences of the new workforce?
It’s clear that the Millenials are used to collaborating online. A way to implement goal setting and monitoring is to make it a collaborative experience. Similar to participating in an online discussion, setting a goal or a work plan through a company portal and having the chance to let others view and comment on it is a good way to make sure you are on track at work. Instead of having formal weekly plans that are sent to managers, putting goals in the hands of workers will drive healthy competition and hopefully collaboration online.
Since collaborating online with managers and colleagues is quite easy, workers expect continuous feedback for their work. Instead of only waiting for formal and annual performance reviews, utilize technology and recognize great work as it comes through. Use the company’s performance management platform to give feedback to workers that need it, whether it is good or bad. This can be done by employees in addition to managers. If they did exemplary, send a quick note showing that you recognize and appreciate the work. If they need improvement, share with them what you think went wrong and be open to talking things over if need be.
Similar to feedback, recognizing and rewarding good work is important for tech-savvy workers. They are used to everything being fast-paced and therefore want to be rewarded for great work. Whether it is a recommendation on LinkedIn that will stay with them throughout their career, or an e-mail to the entire team recognizing the member’s efforts, rewards that paced with the amount of great work will be appreciated.
As much as younger workers enjoy conducting every aspect of their lives online, they still appreciate a humanized work environment. Sometimes, feedback via e-mail or telephone may not cut it. Be prepared to take time out of your day to address issues with workers that are struggling with certain projects or just need to talk about something in general. Blocking them off by conveying that you do not have enough time to chat will turn them off from you and the office very quickly.
How has Gen Y impacted your workplace?