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The Evolving Workplace: Getting Native with Generation Y & Z

As Generation Y assumes their place in the workforce, Generation Z is just a few years behind.  Many Gen Y-ers, also known as the Millennials, are climbing the corporate ladder by taking on managerial and executive roles. The first wave of Gen Z, or the Net Generation, is graduating college as the second wave enters various stages of grade school. While Gen Y garners buzz for their web-savviness and ability to manipulate an iPhone to its full potential, Gen Z is growing up with little knowledge of life before Prodigy and AOL. This new level of high-tech prowess brings with it a unique set of considerations for the workplace. At the recent 15th Annual HR Tech Conference and Expo, Steve Miranda, SVP of Applications at Oracle, observed that, “Technology might now be a second language to us, but it is a native language to the next generation of the workforce.”

What was once seen as alien is now native to incoming employees, which means big changes for the workplace. Depending on its average employee age as well as organizational size, and scope, employer-side preparation for this change runs the gamut from slow and subtle to rapid and monumental. In any event, here are few ways to get with Gens Y & Z:

  • Learn the Language – Provide special training for those employees who wish to be brought up to speed on programs and technologies. Knowing Excel doesn’t necessarily mean having command of pivot tables. Fluency in this new language comes with practice and experience.
  • Stay Connected – Keep the office technologies up-to-date. Make sure to hire the right IT support to update systems, software, and make suggestions. New programs and apps pop up every day that can improve business processes and bridge the generation gap.
  • Stick TogetherStudies show that the younger generations tend to be highly networked and globally aware online but not as much so offline.  Bring employees together for face time with each other, customers, and the community. Gens Y & Z will benefit from IRL learning.
  • Teams Work – Another characteristic of these up-and-coming Generations is their shared interest in teamwork. Rather than employing the “sink or swim” and “every man for himself” mentality, they work best collaboratively. Conduct weekly team check-ins to be sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Think Outside the Cubicle – Many workplaces are trending toward more relaxed atmospheres to accommodate employees. Giving Gens Y & Z room to be creative can promote their productivity. Plus with so many hours spent in the office, it doesn’t hurt to get a little comfortable.

After all, you may have more in common with Gens Y & Z than you realize (take the quiz to find out!).