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How to Get Employee Engagement Right with Gen Z Employees

April 16, 2024
By Cynthia Chan

Our team has come across this question from our clients frequently, “How should we engage with Gen Z employees?”

As Gen Z continues to grow in today’s workforce, managers are finding they need to adjust their strategies to effectively engage this generation. Digital natives and pragmatists with greater cultural intelligence, today’s Gen Z workers have different ideals, priorities and expectations from their baby boomer counterparts – one of the oldest generations still working today. They prioritize purpose, collaboration, personal growth and recognition over more traditional metrics.

The pandemic caused lasting disruption to work patterns worldwide, and younger employees are seen to be more detached from their work than other generations. With distractions galore, maintaining focus and passion in their roles presents unique challenges for organizations. However, getting these dynamics right can pay dividends in performance and retention.

Tips for Engaging Gen Z in the Workplace

Create a purpose-driven working environment – Entrust employees with meaningful work that plays to their strengths. Orchestrate inputs on strategic decisions and innovations that shape the future and give autonomy where possible over work schedules and project elements. Make them feel inspired and motivated to contribute to the company’s success so they can see how it benefits them and their career. Engagement often improves when people feel ownership over their roles.

Support connections that fuel engagement – Provide training to managers to empower them to manage a multi-generational workforce. Explore new touchpoints to younger colleagues through digital channels, optimizing your content for a mobile-first experience. This is essential to effectively reaching this audience. Use creative, short video content and graphics to drive easier accessibility. Gamifying content can also create participation, which is effective with some types of internal campaign launches to retain attention beyond the first impressions and limit bounce rates.

Enable collaboration and recognition to boost motivation – Networking comes naturally for the younger generation, which prefers to interact through instant messaging or online collaboration, rather than lengthy emails or in-person meetings. Create a collaborative environment where they can feel recognized for their contributions, both big and small. Apart from traditional hall-of-fame awards, ask them for ideas and opinions that can show how you value their participation and contributions. Then celebrate the ideas (and the employees responsible) that are put into action and generate positive results.

Managing and engaging the younger portion of talent requires updating approaches to match Gen Z values. By connecting work to meaningful causes, encouraging digital teamwork and celebrating contributions, managers can ignite passion and increase engagement. When combined with other strategic initiatives to improve the employee experience, the payoff has potential to be immense — an energized, loyal team that drives innovation and growth in the years ahead.